Theo Dawson photoI'm a cognitive developmental psychologist and test developer. When I say I develop tests, I mean that I develop tools that help students learn while helping teachers identify what students are most likely to benefit from learning next. Since 1996, my colleagues and I have been developing methods and technologies that make this kind of testing possible.

I received my Ph.D at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Education. My dissertation, entitled, "A good education is…," was a lifespan study of how people's conceptions of education develop between the ages of 4 and 84. It won two dissertation awards, one from Berkeley, and one from the APA. I went on to do a postdoctoral project in which I demonstrated the feasibility of an automated method for evaluating the developmental level of verbal performances.

Since then I have taught at Harvard and Hampshire College, and have published a (still) growing number of scholarly articles about assessment and learning. In 2006, I left the academy to work full-time on DiscoTest, an initiative that provides FREE tests (my kind) to public school students and their teachers, and the Developmental Testing Service, which focuses on adult assessment and research. Today, I work with a growing group of like-minded colleagues, studying how people learn specific concepts and skills over the course of the lifespan, and turning what we learn into curricula and assessments.

Why am I blogging?

There are a few reasons, but the main reason is to begin providing answers to the questions that fill my inbox each morning, starting with the most frequently asked questions. Entries will not be static; I will add to them over time with the intention of making them clearer, more accurate, and more comprehensive.

Please ask for clarification and share your knowledge and ideas

I'm depending on readers of this blog to provide me with requests for clarification and new knowledge or ideas.

Over time, I hope the answers and discussions on this blog will become a useful resource for people who work with assessments of all kinds.

Please respect my copyright on the posts on this site. If you would like to quote me in a public forum, please cite me appropriately—and please let me know.


7 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Theo,

    I would love to talk to you about coming over to Singapore to run a couple of Assessment workshops with me.

    Please do drop me an email if you are keen,

    Soon Aun
    +65 98527417

  2. Hi Theo,
    I am a colleague of Mike Jay’s, working here as a consultant at SACU

    I’d like to ask you to provide a simple definition of ‘meta-cognition’ and perhaps an example of what it might it look like at (Jacques’) Work levels 4 and 5 (your?) levels 11 and 12….Also, where might I look in all the refrence material you provide?

    Here at SACU we are continuing to use LDMA & find that this concept is a ‘moving target’.

    Thanks in advance.

  3. Hello Theo,
    You were my midwife in Ontario when I had Betony, who will be 30 on June 9th! I met another lady recently who had you as a midwife as well that year. Her daughter just had a home birth here in our small town. Ontario now has licensed midwives, hurrah.

    We always were wondering what turn your life took, and understood that you moved back to California. It sounds as if you left midwifery behind. You were a great one, We have great memories of our time with you. It was one of the best times of my life.
    I have several younger friends who have had home births.

    hope to chat online, if you care to.


  4. Hi Theo!
    You were my midwife in 81 and 84 for my first two. I too had wondered what turns your life took as you were such a part of ours at those momenteous times. Decided to try and look you up as our third daughter, also born at home, is about to give us our first grandchild. I get to be on the other end of a homebirth now lol. We also have a son, who was of course also born at home. I guess we were rebels in the day. 😉 Martin and I send our love and hugs, Susan

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