Stephen Maxwell Corey

Stephen Corey was the co-author with Lloyd Messersmith of the 1931 paper The distance traversed by a basketball player. At that time, Stephen was a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at De Pauw University. He had received his PhD in 1928 at the University of Illinois.

Stephen and Lloyd were of similar ages, Stephen was born in 1904 and Lloyd in 1905. At the time of the publication of their paper (in volume 2 of the Research Quarterly) they were what we call today ‘early career’ university teachers.

The paper reports the distances traversed in a whole game by the De Pauw University floor guard in a game against Miami University. Lloyd’s pursuit apparatus for measuring distances traversed required an assistant to record sounds emanating from the tracing wheel used. I imagine Stephen provided that service and kept a record of change of possessions in the game (p.59).

I am keen to introduce Stephen as part of this story. I see the paper as a seminal moment in the start of the notational analysis of performance as a scholarly activity. Lloyd brought his basketball teaching and coaching insights and Stephen came from a different academic background. Their paper cited no earlier references.

Stephen was appointed professor of educational psychology and superintendent of laboratory schools at the University of Chicago in 1940. Eight years later he became a member of staff at the Teachers College as executive officer of its Horace Mann-Lincoln Institute of School Experimentation. 

Stephen developed an expertise in action research and published a number of papers and books on the subject. These include:

  • 1940. The teachers out-talk the pupils. The School Review, 48(10), 745-752.
  • 1949. Action research, fundamental research and educational practices. Teachers College Record, 50(8), 509-514.
  • 1953. Action research to improve school practices. Oxford: Bureau of Publications, Teachers Co.
  • 1954. Action research in education. The journal of educational research, 47(5), 375-380.

To my knowledge, Stephen did not write another paper with Lloyd. In 1954, Stephen wrote that “action research in education is research undertaken by practitioners in order that they may improve their practices” (p.375).

Back in 1931, Lloyd was developing his skills as a coach. I am hopeful that Stephen’s interest in action research gave them lots to discuss as they both started out on their coaching, teaching and research journeys.

Both of them spent their professional lives as educators. Lloyd died in 1977 and Stephen in 1984.

Photo Credits

Corey, Stephen M. (The University of Chicago Photographic Archive [apf1-01929], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library permission to use for educational and scholarly uses)

Apparatus for measuring distance travelled by basketball players

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