Peter Doolittle, a leader in educational research and best practices both nationally and internationally, has been named director of the Virginia Tech School of Education.
Doolittle most recently served as executive director of the university’s Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) for nine years and as assistant provost for teaching and learning at Virginia Tech for four years.
“Peter Doolittle’s significant experience as both a scholar and a high-level administrator will benefit the school tremendously,” said Rosemary Blieszner, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “His work in the Office of the Provost in particular gives him a depth of institutional knowledge and a strategic perspective that will serve the school well.”
Doolittle, who joined the School of Education as an assistant professor in 1997, achieved the rank of professor in 2012. He has been a well-recognized scholar in his field, authoring more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, providing more than 50 keynote and invited addresses, and presenting at more than 100 conferences. He is the founding editor of the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
Doolittle’s principal research focus is on learning efficacy in multimedia environments, with specific emphasis on the role of working memory. His TEDGlobal 2013 talk, “How your ‘working memory’ makes sense of the world,” has been viewed more than 2 million times.
He has worked extensively with graduate students across a range of disciplines, from education to architecture to mathematics, serving as chair of more than 20 doctoral dissertations and a member of more than 50 doctoral committees. He is a past recipient of the University Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching from Virginia Tech, the Certificate of Teaching Excellence and Graduate Student Advising Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and the Outstanding Teaching Award from the School of Education.
Doolittle holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Southern Methodist University, a master’s degree in education from Baylor University, and a doctoral degree in educational psychology from The Catholic University of America.
“In leading Virginia Tech’s School of Education, I have been given the opportunity to work with outstanding faculty members who are creating the next generation of professional educators and leaders,” Doolittle said.
“Some of these faculty members are engaging young students in learning science and engineering principles through robotics competitions,” he added. “Others are immersing teachers in historical inquiries of Jim Crow–era school segregation and World War I trenches through augmented and virtual reality. Some faculty members are challenging teacher candidates to make the concepts of culture and place central elements of their practice, including supporting students with autism in rural communities. Still others are working with college and university educators to emphasize social justice and scholarly rigor in their research and practice. I’m proud to lead such a fine group of scholars and educators.”