Most of the papers in this special issue were presented at an invitational symposium held during an AERA annual meeting. The symposium papers represent a range of different types of study within a coherent theme. An additional paper representsMoreMost of the papers in this special issue were presented at an invitational symposium held during an AERA annual meeting. The symposium papers represent a range of different types of study within a coherent theme. An additional paper represents another strand in European research on learning and instruction. All five papers summarize research programs rather than individual studies, and can be seen as progress reports on programmatic research which is developing theory and empirical evidence on a continuing basis.
The first four papers consider the influence of schooling on intellectual development and educational achievement. They follow a progression from studies which concentrate more on formal testing of intellectual abilities to those which pay more attention to a description of the contexts of schooling in which students learn. The final paper extends those analyses of learning in context by looking at the experiences of students in higher education, and also at students ways of coping with particular types of studying they have to undertake.
Taken together, the papers represent a European research attempt to give equal weight to the important contributions of relatively stable, but still changing, individual differences, and of the various components of learning context that interact in complex ways with those personal characteristics in determining learning outcomes.