In planning the contents of this volume, we selected three fields that are exemplars of how research is informing practice in contexts that are challenged and of social significance: education, clinical practice, and social policy. Within each of these areas we sought authors who, because of their involvement with practice over time, could speak to their decision-making as researchers using basic research to address issues of practice.
For this volume, we specifically invited authors working in a wide variety of practice contexts to write a chapter that included a selective review of the literature and a description of their own research program as an exemplar. Summaries of prior research were considered to be informative, but not sufficient since the aim of this volume of the Handbook is to support use-inspired basic research. Similarly, while theoretical models can provide a language with which to think about practice, they typically do not map the particulars of use and how its study might be undertaken.
We encouraged the authors to include case material in order to provide (a) readers with a context for thinking about the study of change and development and (b) a basis for discussing points raised in the empirical literature and the ways in which these do (or do not) inform practice. We also asked authors to consider a number of questions:
• What are the working assumptions in the research questions being asked? What are the competing hypotheses?
• What are the methods or interventions? On what are they based? What types of adjustments or iterations have they required?
• What principles for practice are suggested by the findings; and what are the caveats about their gener-alizability? Are there considerations of culture, individual and group needs, gender, and so forth that need to be acknowledged? Was the implementation mandated? What are the ethical issues that need to be addressed?
• What types of decisions get made all of the time in practice even when there is no research to inform practice? What kind of formative assessments can be used in these instances?
• What are the questions with which you and/or the field are still wrestling or still need to wrestle? What are the open questions that are suggested by practice that researchers need to address?
The inclusion of case material, a selected review of the literature, and discussions of decision making were intended to enhance the readability and the utility of chapter contents. These features should also distinguish this volume from others.
Importantly, a volume such as this is expected to hold different meanings for each reader. In fact, each reader is expected to find his or her own favorite or most useful chapters, and these can be expected to differ from those of the next reader.
Together, these chapters showcase the thinking that informs use-inspired research on change and development. The chapters provide a basis for thinking about both the ways in which theory and methods inform child psychology research in practice. This volume also addresses the way in which research can inform those working together in practice and mediate decisionmaking that influences children, their families and/or caretakers, and the professionals who work with them.