University of Rochester

Psychologist Richard Ryan Receives Community Education Award

May 25, 2005

The Rochester Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa has given Richard M. Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry, and education at the University of Rochester, one of its annual awards for community contributions in education.

The local chapter of the international association of education professionals praised Ryan’s research on the nature of goals and human motivation as well as its application to real-life situations in schools. Besides his research and writing in scholarly journals, Ryan speaks in Rochester and around the state about the dangers of high-stakes testing. His recent reviews suggest that the use of high-stakes standardized tests limits teacher flexibility in the classroom, diminishes meaningful learning, and leads to higher drop-out rates.

Ryan and Edward L. Deci, both members of the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology at the University, developed Self-Determination Theory and continue their research on how people are intrinsically motivated and self-determined under conditions in which their basic psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness are satisfied. This theory of human behavior by Deci and Ryan is used and studied by psychologists around the world.