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Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science Applied Research & Technology Institute

Applied Research & Technology

Human Motivation, Learning and Development Research Expertise

Additional research expertise includes the Human Motivation, Learning, and Development Center.  This area conducts "applications-driven" research, development, and evaluation in the areas of human motivation, learning, and development so that research-validated principles can be used to enhance human potential and performance.  The Center draws on the multi-disciplinary expertise of University of Denver faculty and other recognized experts and organizations working in the same areas.  Center activities are directed at teachers and learners of all ages, kindergarten through college and beyond.  Learner- and person-centered models for addressing human motivation, learning, and development needs are applied to research, development, and evaluation activities within a living systems framework.  Specific areas of focus in which the research-validated learner-centered principles and practices are applied include:

  • Professional Development
  • School Violence Prevention
  • Systemic Educational Reform
  • Personal and Organizational Change

The Center is involved in R&D projects with K-12 school systems, higher education teacher education programs, and organizations involved with evaluations of national educational reform models.  Projects recently completed include a national evaluation of one of the Title I Comprehensive School Reform Models (Community for Learning Program) and an international collaboration to define new e-learning models.  Current projects include collaborations with (a) international colleagues to use the Learner-Centered Model to promote lifelong learning skills and (b) national colleagues to define new educational paradigms and models to enhance innovation through the K-20 system.  Center staff are also working collaboratively with DU's College of Education to establish new teaching and learning models devoted to quality faculty development and research in learner-centered principles and practices.  In addition, Center staff are helping to define new learner-centered youth empowerment and violence prevention initiatives that build on the use of Internet technologies.  This work is a collaboration involving a multi-disciplinary group of local and national leaders. 

Center staff have expertise in theory and research applicable to the areas of human motivation, learning, and development. In addition, staff have expertise in research and evaluation methodologies including research models, statistics, and methodologies appropriate to quantitative and qualitative research designs. In addition to permanent Center staff with degrees in educational psychology and social work, the Center employs University faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students as appropriate to the needs of specific projects. Outside consultants are also used as appropriate as well as partner organizations with expertise that compliments and expands that of Center staff and matches client needs.


Citations for Barbara L. McCombs, Ph.D.

Book Chapters

McCombs, B. L. (2011, in press).  From credible research to policy for guiding educational reform.  In W. M. Reynolds and G. E. Miller (Eds.), Comprehensive Handbook of Psychology, Volume 7:  Educational Psychology (Rev. Edition).  New York:  John Wiley & Sons. McCombs, B. L. (2010, in press).  Learner-Centered Practices: Providing the Context for Positive Learner Development, Motivation, and Achievement (Chapter 7).  In J. Meece & J. Eccles (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development.  Mahwah, NJ:  Erlbaum. McCombs, B. L. (2009).  Commentary:  What can we learn from a synthesis of research on teaching, learning, and motivation?  (pp. 655-670).  In K. R. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school.  New York:  Routledge.

Web-based Publications McCombs, B. L. (2010, in press).  Developing responsible and autonomous learners:  A key to motivating learners.  An online web-based module for the APA Task Force on the Application of Psychological Science to Teaching and Learning (APS-TL).  Washington, DC:  American Psychological Association.

Presentations at Professional Conferences Vanchu-Orosco, M., McCombs, B.L., & Culpepper, S. A. (2010, April).  Understanding relationships between learner-centered practices and adolescent achievement:  Theory building with latent profile analysis.  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver.  McCombs, B. L. (2010, April).  Learner-centered practices as a comprehensive theoretical model for enhancing college student success: A longitudinal study from 2006 to 2009 at San Antonio College.  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver.

McCombs, B. L. (2009, August).  Training the Novice Educator to maximize Learner Motivation using empirically-based instructional strategies.  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association as part of the symposium, "From Research-anchored Learning Principles to Instructional Strategies to Guide Teacher Development and Practice," Toronto.