University of ArizonaNorton School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Dianne D. Horgan, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, Graduate College
John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences
(520) 621-9223

I’ve been an administrator for well over 10 years now. After 20 years as a faculty member, I felt it was time for a change and that administration would also offer me an opportunity to bring about significant changes in the lives of students and other faculty. I was right. The job of administration is extremely varied — I never know from day to day what will await me — and administration is just as challenging and intellectually stimulating as research and teaching.
Making a university run is a huge undertaking. In the Graduate College, we are involved in every aspect of graduate education, across all disciplines and across all functions. So it is a real microcosym of the whole university, yet small enough to actually get to know individual students.

I work with upper administration, staff at all levels: politicians, people in professional organizations, faculty, and students—that’s about as varied a clientele as you can imagine! I especially enjoy working with staff. As a faculty member, I had no idea how much behind-the-scenes work was necessary or who did it all. We have an incredibly dedicated staff that keeps the whole enterprise afloat.

While administration has its downs, there are a surprising number of ups. It’s amazing to me how many students and faculty get caught in the bureaucracy and how, usually, it’s pretty easy to rescue them. If you want to be in a helping profession, administration is a good choice! It’s also interesting to work at the policy level, where careful thinking and analysis can bring about very significant improvements. A change in policy affects thousands of students.

Areas of expertise: 
  • Development of expertise
  • Motivation
  • Decision making
  • Gender differences
Research Focus: 

My research and teaching interests are in two main areas: motivation and expert/novice differences. The study of expert/novice differences examines how people acquire high levels of skill—how they get to be really good at what they do.
The development of expertise involves not only motivation and skill acquisition, but also decision-making, which I've studied in a number of different contexts Mentoring and other kinds of coaching and training are also important in understanding how expertise develops, and some of my work focuses on this.
Other work examines how adult and child chess players develop their skills. Expert chess-playing represents some of the most sophisticated problem-solving skills of which people are capable. It is also one of the most male-dominated of all human intellectual activities.
Although little of the expert/novice literature and none of the chess-cognition literature has focused on gender, I believe that research is rich with potential applications for improving performance for everyone, but especially for groups which have experienced discrimination or fewer opportunities to develop high levels of skills.
Some of my work is more theoretical, but I am committed to applying research findings to real-world problems. Many of the factors that contribute to expertise are now understood, and we can apply some of the lessons from this research to real world situations. Hence, I have developed several training programs — including programs to improve decision making skills — aimed at enhancing performance.

Current Projects: 

Among many other things, I work on large projects such as the National Research Council study of Ph.D. programs and the Mosaic project. I enjoy the organizational and motivational challenges of such projects — the tasks are complex and introduce me to new people around campus and around the country.

Select Publications: 

Please contact Dianne Horgan if you are unable to locate one of the publications listed below.

Valesky, T., Horgan, D., Etheridge, C., & Smith, D. (2003). Training for Quality School-Based Decision Making: The Total Teamwork System. Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press.

Hacker, D. J., Bol, L., Horgan, D. D., & Rakow, E. A. (2000). Test prediction and performance in a classroom context. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 160-170.

Horgan, D. (1995). Achieving gender equity: Strategies for the classroom. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Horgan, D. (1992). Children and chess expertise: The role of calibration. Psychological Research, 54, 44-50.

Horgan, D., & Simeon, R., (1990). Gender, mentoring, and tacit knowledge. in J.W. Neuliep (Ed.) Handbook of replication research in the behavioral and social sciences [Special Issue.] Journal of Social Behavior and Personality. 5, 453-471.

Horgan, D. & Morgan, D., (1990). Chess expertise in children, Applied Cognitive Psychology., 4, 109-128.

Horgan, D., Millis, K., Horgan, T., & Neimeyer, R. (1989). Predecision processes in chess: Masters, experts, and novices. In D. Topping, D. Crowell, & V. Kobayashi, (Eds.), Thinking Across Cultures. Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum Associates, 309-321.

Tel: Main Office 520.621.1075 Norton School Student Services 520.621.1295
Mailing Address: 650 N. Park Ave Tucson, Arizona 85721-0078 (Map to McClelland Park)
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