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Department ofPsychology


Meet Professor Tim Urdan!

Professor Tim Urdan, Ph.D., teaches classes on statistics, educational psychology, developmental psychology, and identity. If you have taken Psyc 51, 52, or 53, you were probably forced to (err, got to) read his textbook, Statistics in Plain English. After majoring in Psychology at U.C. Berkeley, he became interested in education. While working as a math teacher in a middle school for a year, Urdan learned that many students who were able to do the work simply chose not to. This engendered a fascination with student motivation, and how factors in the environment (e.g., teachers, parents, peers, society) either promote or inhibit motivation. 

His current research projects include a study of teacher identity, a study of how students from under-represented groups think about and plan for college, and a study of ethnic and academic identity among Hispanic high school and college students. What these studies have in common is that they all examine how people think about themselves and their roles (as teachers, as students, as members of a particular group of people) and how these aspects of identity influence their motivation to achieve, perform their jobs, or go to college. 

When he is not teaching or engaged in research, Urdan may be working on tasks for the University Coordinating Committee. At SCU we have a system of collaborative governance where policies are created through collaborative work between the administration and various policy committees. There is a committee for student-related policies, staff-related policies, faculty-related policies, and academic policies, among others. The University Coordinating Committee coordinates the work of the other committees and tries to make the process of governance at SCU more efficient. Urdan is the chair of that committee this year. 

And when he is not doing anything related to SCU, Urdan is either playing tennis, getting crushed by his 11th-grade son in video-game baseball, eating something high in salt, fat, or sugar, or sleeping. 

Feel free to contact him if you have questions about his research, classes, governance at SCU, tennis, or your future. He did not really have a clear career path until he was 30 years old, so he can be a particularly good source of advice (or just a shoulder to cry on) if you are not sure yet what you want to do with your life. Even if you know exactly what you want to do, he's happy to talk with you.