Lee Shulman

LEE SHULMAN is President Emeritus of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (1997-2008) and Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University. Before becoming president of the Carnegie Foundation, he was the first Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education and Professor of Psychology (by courtesy) at Stanford University. Dr. Shulman was previously Professor of Educational Psychology and Medical Education, and he also served as the founding co-director of the Institute for Research on Teaching both at Michigan State University.

Shulman (with Arthur Elstein) pioneered the investigation of medical reasoning, producing the most comprehensive study of the cognitive processes of medical problem solving of its time. Dr. Shulman’s research and writing focus on the study of teaching and teacher education, the importance of pedagogical content knowledge, and the quality of teaching in higher education. Also a past president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and of the National Academy of Education, he received the AERA’s highest honor, the career award for Distinguished Contributions to Educational Research. The recipient of numerous awards including the E. L. Thorndike Award for Distinguished Psychological Contributions to Education (1995), the Grawemeyer Award in 2006 for his collected writings in The Wisdom of Practice (by Jossey-Bass), and the AERA Division K Legacy Award (2011) for his exemplary contributions through research, teaching, and professional service, Dr. Shulman continues to advocate for the importance of teaching at all levels.

To learn more about Lee Shulman from his family and friends, visit his Reflections. To view photographs from Lee Shulman’s personal collection, visit his Photo Gallery.


Visit the video below to watch a short overview of the interview with Lee Shulman. Otherwise, see all five of the full interviews with Lee Shulman below.

Video Interviews with Lee Shulman:

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Born in Chicago, Illinois as the only son of Jewish immigrants, Dr. Lee Shulman fondly recalls his early years spent in a yeshiva high school and at his parent’s delicatessen. “Forming his academic identity” while studying at the University of Chicago, Shulman honed his analytical skills by “wrestling” with classical Greek literature and Jewish texts. Insisting that “nothing worth reading can be skimmed,” Shulman studied philosophy and educational psychology, earning his doctorate by age 24. Watch this clip to learn how Dr. Shulman became a philosopher by “making distinctions.”

Noting that “he who can does, and he who understands teaches,” Dr. Lee Shulman has adapted George Bernard Shaw’s old adage to reflect the critical role of teachers in student achievement. Propelling Michigan State University to national prominence through his research on cognitive processing, Shulman also led pioneering efforts to professionalize teaching. Likening the art of teaching to a seemingly ordinary game of golf, Shulman explains the importance of a “pedagogical swing” that must change to fit current needs and conditions. In this clip, learn more about the missing paradigm—pedagogical content knowledge—as the “essence of great teaching.”

Believing his work on content pedagogy to be the “most generative work [he] will ever do,” Dr. Lee Shulman also inspired the creation of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) with his vision for teacher assessment. Careful to differentiate between student achievement and learning, Shulman also advocates for greater public trust in teacher judgment. When asked to reflect on his tenure as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Shulman uses the Hebrew word naches to explain that he derives great pleasure from the achievements of others, especially his colleagues and students. In this clip, hear Dr. Shulman’s prescription for excellence in teacher preparation programs.

Regarding “teaching as community property,” Dr. Lee Shulman readily explains the importance of graduate studies that allow educators to engage in “the highest level of professional practice”—teaching in the classroom. Describing teaching “as a form of scholarship,” Shulman profoundly shaped the development of the educational doctorate through his work at the Carnegie Foundation. Also advocating research that recognizes the role of religious traditions in learning, Shulman notes that “more students world-wide attend religious schools than secular ones.” View this clip to hear Dr. Shulman’s description of pastrami as a metaphor for “a well marbled life.”

Crediting renowned scholars Joseph Schwab and Benjamin Bloom for his early professional success, Dr. Lee Shulman remains inspired by “really good questions,” adding that “teaching and research should be fun.” Citing pedagogy, teaching, and naches among his favorite words, Shulman admits he would also have enjoyed a career writing for Seinfeld or Saturday Night Live! Described as wise and patient by his own students, Shulman cautions young researchers to use footnotes and references to acknowledge the importance of others’ work in the field. Watch this clip to hear from Dr. Shulman about the continuous need to share the gift of research beyond academia.

Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2011, May 10). Inside the Academy video interviews with Dr. Lee Shulman [Video files]. Retrieved from http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/lee-shulman