About the Author

Professional Biography

Frederick F. Lighthall is Professor Emeritus of Educational, Social, and Organizational Psychology, The University of Chicago. He holds a BA in History from Oberlin College and an MA and PhD in Educational Psychology from Yale University with a concentration in statistical analysis. His early studies concerned measurement issues of assessing test anxiety in elementary school children. Subsequent experience teaching fifth grade in a public school was followed by a career with two themes at The University of Chicago.

The first was educating teachers in the psychology of teaching, and conducting studies of his own teaching process. Those studies culminated in an integrative review of the burgeoning field of Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices (S-STEP; Lighthall, 2004). The second theme was studying how people succeeded or failed to work together in schools and other organizations (Lighthall, 1989, 1991; Lighthall & Allan, 1989).

After a program of training at the National Training Laboratories (Bethel, ME and Aspen, CO), he directed a six-year (1968-1974) NIMH-sponsored program of training social psychologists for school systems at the University of Chicago (Lighthall, 1969, 1973a, 1973b, 1978, 1988; Lighthall & Braun, 1976, Lighthall & Zientek, 1977). Concurrently he facilitated the organizational functioning and/or instructional effectiveness of a variety of organizations (e.g., , Skokie, IL school district, the Sisters of Mercy, Vail, Colorado Ski School, Mother McCauley Liberal Arts High School). The latter, reported in Lighthall and Allan (1989) led to the present study (Lighthall, 2015) of the high-tech dangers of human functioning in the Challenger accident.

The present study of disastrous decision making (Lighthall, 2015) turned out also to provide an extended internship for Lighthall in the study of engineering, of engineers, and of engineering managers where key engineers and engineering managers – Marshall’s Larry Mulloy, Jim Smith and Luther Ben Powers, and Thiokol’s Allan McDonald, Arnie Thompson, and Roger Boisjoly (1938 – 2012) – became his tutors. Mulloy and McDonald provided over many years their own knowledge and perspectives on the pre-launch deliberations and booster joint dynamics as well as informative and critical comments on Lighthall’s interpretations of those dynamics.

Publications Cited

Lighthall, F. F. 2015. Disastrous High-Tech Decision Making: From Disasters to Safety. Indianapolis, IN: Kilburn Sackett Press.

Lighthall, F. F. 2004. Fundamental features and approaches of the s-step enterprise. In Loughran, J. J., Hamilton, M. L., LaBoskey, V. K., & Russell, T. (Eds.), International Handbook of Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices (pp.193-246). Dordrecht: The Netherlands, Part One.

Lighthall, F. F. 1991. Launching the space shuttle Challenger: Disciplinary deficiencies in the analysis of engineering data. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management 38, 63–74.

Lighthall, F. F. & Allan, S. D. 1989. Local Realities, Local Adaptations: Problem, Process, and Person in a School’s Governance. London, UK: The Falmer Press.

Lighthall, F. F. 1989. Making and transcending local adaptations: A pragmatic constructivist perspective on “participation.” In Magjuka, R. J. & Bacharach, S. B. (Eds.) 1989. Structuring participation in organizations (pp. 1-26). Research in the Sociology of Organizations. 7.

Lighthall, F. F. 1988. An organization watcher's view of classroom questioning and discussion: Multiple realities and sequential dependencies. In J.T. Dillon (Ed.), Classroom Questioning and Discussion (pp. 135-153). Norwood, N.J.: Ablex.

Lighthall, F. F. 1973a. Social psychologists in schools: Some concepts and interventions. School Psychology Digest, 2, 10-15.

Lighthall, F. F. 1973b. Multiple realities and organizational non-solutions: An essay on Anatomy of Educational Innovation. School Review, 81, 255-294.

Lighthall, F. F. 1978. Equity, consequentiality, and the structure of exchange between social psychologists and educators. In D. Bar-Tal & L. Saxe (Eds.), Social Psychology and Education: Theory and Research (pp. 25-51). New York: Hemisphere.

Lighthall, F. F. 1969. A social psychologist for school systems. Psychology in the Schools, 6, 3-12.

Lighthall, F. F. & J. W. Braun. 1976. The Twenty-Second Case: Social Psychologists for School Systems -- Contrasting Methods of Role Training and Development. Final Report, NIMH Grant T51 11217.

Lighthall, F. F. & J. Zientek. 1977. Organizational behavior: A basis for relevant interchange between psychologists and educators in schools. In J.C. Glidewell (Ed.), The Social Context of Learning and Development (pp.65-85). New York: Gardner Press.

Professional Memberships

American Anthropological Association
American Association for the Advancement of Science (Life Member)
American Psychological Association
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
American Sociological Association
Association for Psychological Science
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Organization of American Historians