Kurt W. Fischer

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Kurt W. Fischer
Born(1943-06-09)June 9, 1943
DiedMarch 30, 2020(2020-03-30) (aged 76)[1]
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Alma materB.A., Yale University
Ph.D., Harvard University
Known fordynamic skill theory, a neo-Piagetian theory of cognitive development; founder of Mind Brain and Education program at Harvard and International Mind, Brain and Education Society
Scientific career
Cognitive Psychology
Developmental psychology
InstitutionsUniversity of Denver
Harvard University
InfluencesJean Piaget

Kurt W. Fischer (June 9, 1943 – March 30, 2020) was an educator, author, and researcher in the field of neuroscience and education. Until his retirement in 2015, he was the Charles Bigelow Professor of Education and Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education.[2][3] Fischer studied cognitive and emotional development and learning.[4] His work, called dynamic skill theory,[5] is considered to be one of the Neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development. It offers an explanation for both consistency and variability in developmental patterns.[6]

In later years, his focus was on the interdisciplinary field of Mind, Brain and Education. In the 1990s, Fischer with Howard Gardner and David Rose developed the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which was the leading program in its area.[1] A leader in his field, he was the founding president of the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society[7] and founding editor of the journal Mind, Brain, and Education.[8]

Notable publications[edit]

  • Fischer, K. W. (1980). A theory of cognitive development: The control and construction of hierarchies of skills. Psychological Review, 87, 477-531.
  • Fischer, K. W., Shaver, P., & Carnchan, P. (1989). A skill approach to emotional development: From basic- to subordinate-category emotions. In W. Damon (Ed.), Child development today and tomorrow (pp. 107–136). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Fischer, K. W., & Rose, S. P. (1994). Dynamic development of coordination of components in brain and behavior: A framework for theory and research. In G. Dawson & K. W. Fischer (Eds.), Human behavior and the developing brain. (pp. 3–66). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Fischer, K. W., Ayoub, C., Singh, I., Noam, G., Maraganore, A., & Raya, P. (1997). Psychopathology as adaptive development along distinctive pathways. Development & Psychopathology, 9, 749-779.
  • Fischer, K. W., & Bidell, T. R. (2006). Dynamic development of action, thought, and emotion. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology. Vol 1: Theoretical models of human development(6th ed., pp. 313–399 ). New York: Wiley.
  • Fischer, K. W., Daniel, D., Immordino-Yang, M. H., Stern, E., Battro, A., & Koizumi, H. (2007) Why Mind, Brain, and Education? Why Now? Mind, Brain, and Education, 1(1), 1-2.
  • Fischer, K. W., & Fusaro, M. (2007). Using student interests to motivate learning. In R. P. Fink & J. Samuels (Eds.), Inspiring success: Reading interest and motivation in an age of high-stakes testing (pp. 62–74). Newark DE: International Reading Association.
  • Fischer, K. W., Bernstein, J. H., & Immordino-Yang, M. H. (Eds.). (2007) Mind, brain, and education in reading disorders. Cambridge U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
  • Battro, A.M., Fischer, K.W., & Lena, P. (2008). (Eds.) Visual learning and the brain: Lessons from dyslexia. Mind, Brain, and Education, 1(3), 127-137.
  • Fischer, K.W., & Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2008) The fundamental importance of the brain and learning for education. In Jossey-Bass reader on the brain and learning (pp. xvii-xi). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Stein, Z., Dawson, T., & Fischer, K. W. (2010 ). Redesigning testing: Operationalizing the new science of learning. In M. S. Khine & I. M. Saleh (Eds.), New Science of Learning: Cognition, Computers and Collaboration in Education (pp. 207–224). New York: Springer.
  • Fischer, K. W., & Heikkinen, K. (2010). The future of educational neuroscience. In D. A. Sousa (Ed.), Mind, brain, and education: Neuroscience implications for the classroom (pp. 248–269). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.


  1. ^ a b "HGSE Remembers Kurt Fischer". Harvard Graduate School of Education.
  2. ^ Bucuvalas, Abigail (October 1, 2003). "The Developing Child: An Interview with Bigelow Professor Kurt Fischer". HGSE News. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  3. ^ "A Salute to Kurt Fischer". Usable Knowledge, Harvard Graduate School of Education. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  4. ^ Kurt W. Fischer; Katie Heikkinen (July 28, 2010). Sousa, David A. (ed.). Mind, Brain, & Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press. p. 249.
  5. ^ Dynamic Development Laboratory. "About Dr. Kurt Fischer". Archived from the original on July 18, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  6. ^ Source?
  7. ^ Harvard Graduate School of Education. "Faculty biography". Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  8. ^ "Website for Mind, Brain, Education journal". Mind, Brain, and Education. doi:10.1111/(ISSN)1751-228X. Retrieved January 5, 2012.