Biographies


William Boyd

– from University of Glasgow Archives

William Boyd was born in Riccarton, Ayrshire on 18 March 1874, the son of David Boyd, a journeyman pattern-maker and Janet Smith, a farmer’s daughter and servant maid. He married Isa Burt in 1905 and had one daughter and then married Dorothy Wilson in 1919, with whom he had two sons and one daughter.

He was educated at Kilmarnock Academy and the University of Glasgow. At the University he took an Honours Philosophy degree and won the John Clark scholarship four years in a row. He graduated MA in 1896. He attended the Free Church College from 1895-1897, intending to enter the Ministry, but decided to pursue a teaching career instead. Advised by his old teacher David Murray to first get a Science degree and was awarded the Ewing Fellowship of £100 per annum to pursue his studies. He graduated BSc in 1900 and started teaching at Blairgowrie Secondary School the following year.

He moved to North Kelvinside School in 1902 where he rekindled his interest in the Glasgow University Settlement. He became Headmaster of Colston Public School in 1907 and then was appointed Lecturer in Education at the University the same year. He graduated DPhil in 1911 for his thesis “The educational theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau”, later published by Longmans. This was one of many educational publications.

He remained Lecturer and then Reader in Education at the University of Glasgow until 1946, being awarded an LLD for his services to Education. He was President of the Educational Institute of Scotland in 1920-1921, Warden of Glasgow University Student Settlement and afterwards President. He was visiting Professor of Education at Columbia University, New York, USA. He acted as consultant on the Third Statistical Account of Scotland from 1947.

He remained Emeritus Reader in Education at the University of Glasgow until his death in Newton Abbott, Devon, on 28th August 1962.

William Boyd was a great proponent of the teacher-researcher model, encouraging his fellow teachers to conduct research in their own classroom during his time in the EIS Research Committee. Boyd also founded the child guidance clinics in Glasgow and gave regular series of lectures for teachers and parents on aspects of child development.

James Drever

A pioneer in the field of experimental psychology and child guidance, James Drever was an Orcadian who, after completing his undergraduate education at Heriot-Watt College and Edinburgh University, entered the teaching profession. In 1906, the same year that the George Combe Lectureship was founded, he was invited by Professor Darroch to be his Assistant and was able to avail himself of the psychological laboratory facilities present at the time. In 1912 Drever was given control of a laboratory of experimental education and later that decade was appointed to the post of Combe Lecturer. Drever’s contributions to the area of experimental psychology soon established him as an authority in the field and he was awarded the Presidentship of the British Psychological Society and in 1938 received the honour of a Knighthood. An even greater honour was bestowed on Drever, however, in 1931, when he became the first Professor of Psychology in a Scottish University. He held the post of Chair of Psychology at Edinburgh University until 1944 when he was succeeded by his son, and a few years later was appointed the President of the Twelfth International Congress of Psychology in 1948. Drever was instrumental in establishing the degree of Psychology at Edinburgh University and was heavily involved with SCRE and both Scottish Mental Surveys.

William B. Emmett

William Emmett was a statistician and lecturer on the BEd course working with Godfrey Thomson and Derrick Lawley in Room 70 at Moray House. During the Second World War Emmett worked in a government research facility, where he met the young Albert Pilliner, with whom he remained in correspondence until the late 1940s, when Pilliner took up a post within Room 70. After Thomson retired, Emmett was appointed to the newly-created post of Reader in Educational Research, and was responsible for the general supervision for the research department of Moray House.

Emmett was proposed as a Fellow of the Royal Society by Thomson and Lawley in 1953-54. At that time he held the post of Lecturer/Reader in Experimental Education in Edinburgh University from 1935. He was elected to the RSE in 1954. The days working with Sir Godfrey Thomson he described as ‘one of the happiest and most productive times of his life’ (from obituary notice in the RSE Year book 1986).

William A.F.Hepburn

Born towards the end of the 19th Century, Hepburn was a native of Castle Douglas and educated at Kirkcudbright Academy and Edinburgh University, graduating with an MA Honours in English and Literature and then a Bachelor of Education with First Class Honours & Special Distinction in Education and Psychology. Hepburn’s teaching career spanned just a few years, from 1919 to 1924, at which point he was appointed Director of Education for his native Kirkcudbright. Hepburn excelled in the field of educational administration and was soon promoted to Director of Education for the County of Ayrshire, a post which he held until 1944, when he transferred to Lanarkshire. In the wider field of education Hepburn played a notable part – a prominent figure in SCRE, Hepburn was Chairman of the Mental Survey Committee from 1931-1937, and was invited to chair an Educational Commission to survey the Protestant School System of the Province of Quebec. It was this work that earned him honour on both sides of the Atlantic, the degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on him by McGill University. A pleasant and amiable man, Hepburn was much loved by his colleagues both in Scotland and beyond and his work in administration was very much admired.

Derrick Lawley

Derrick Lawley is a statistician who worked with Godfrey Thomson in Room 70 on the Moray House Test construction and standardisation. Beginning his career at Cambridge, Lawley was an excellent statistician and his work on factor analysis, much of which was done during his time working on the Moray House Tests, is often quoted in statistical textbooks to this day.

The Acknowledgements section in Frank Baker’s book entitled ‘The Basics of Item Response Theory’ from 2001 reads as follows: ‘Over the past century, many people have contributed to the development of item response theory. Three persons deserve special recognition. D.N. Lawley of the University of Edinburgh published a paper in 1943 showing that many of the constructs of classical test theory classical test theory could be expressed in terms of parameters of the item characteristic curve. This paper marks the beginning of item response theory as a measurement theory.

Antony Fielding, Professor of Social and Educational Statistics in the Department of Economics at the University of Birmingham worked with Lawley in Edinburgh and described him as a fairly shy effacing man. He thought his work with Maxwell and Joreskog helped to make factor analysis something that statisticians could think seriously about in the early years and said that some say that his book with Maxwell, Factor Analysis as a Statistical Method helped make FA statistically respectable. He wrote that he had a lot of respect for Lawley and thought that he did not have the high profile he deserved when working on what was in those far off days an unfashionable subject amongst statisticians.

John Nisbet recalls Lawley teaching the B.Ed class of 1948-49 analysis of variance which was novel at the time. He described Lawley as introvert and shy and he made no eye contact with the class but concentrated on writing on the blackboard as he walked constantly back and forth on the dias. He said that he probably contributed a lot to the Moray House Test organisation at the theoretical level.

William McClelland

A native of Newton Stewart in Dumfriesshire, McClelland was born in 1889 and educated in the area before receiving an MA (Hons), BSc & BEd.

After completing a stint as Additional Lecturer in Education in Aberdeen University and Assistant Lecturer in Education at Aberdeen Provincial Training College, McClelland submitted an application for the post of Principal Lecturer in Education at Moray House in 1923, which he was offered. However, he turned this post down and instead was appointed Director of Studies at St Andrews and Dundee Training Centre, the post being associated with that of the Bell Chair of Education at St Andrews University. McClelland took up this post at St Andrews from 01/10/25.

(Both from Edinburgh Provincial Committee for Training of Teachers Minutes of Meetings 1921-1955).

While at Dundee, McClelland headed up the internationally-acclaimed study of selection for secondary education, which resulted both in a 1942 book of the same title and wide-ranging changes in policy. After this, it appears that McClelland moved into educational administration, at which he excelled.

John Gamble Morris wrote in his PhD thesis that he never heard anyone speak ill of McClelland. However, John A Smith and Hugh Fairlie, both of whom served in the Navy in WW2 told Morris that McClelland had been considered suspect in some educational quarters because he had not been in the Services in WW1.

He died in 1968.

Albert Pilliner

Albert E.G.Pilliner was born in Glasgow in 1909 but spent the majority of his childhood in Shrewsbury where his father, a talented engineer, worked at the Sentinel works making specialist engines. Pilliner was educated at the Priory Grammar School in Shrewsbury and was the first in his family to go to university. Despite being accepted into Cambridge, Pilliner was unsuccessful in receiving a scholarship and instead attended Birmingham University, where he studied Chemistry. Upon graduation Pilliner was very fortunate in obtaining a teaching job, at a time when many of his fellow graduates were forced to take up menial jobs or face unemployment. During the War, Pilliner was selected to work in a government research facility near Wrexham by the Welsh border, using his statistical knowledge and experience to evaluate the effectiveness of explosives. It was here that Pilliner first came into contact with William Emmett, a fellow statistician, and the two men remained in contact after the War. Pilliner resumed his teaching career after the War, teaching Chemistry and Physics and later taking up a post as Head of Science, all the while keeping up his correspondence with Emmett. In 1949 Pilliner took up a post as lecturer in Moray House Training College in Edinburgh at the Godfrey Thomson Unit. It is unclear exactly how this came about, however it is likely that Pilliner’s involvement with William Emmett may have contributed to Godfrey Thomson’s knowledge of his work.

After Thomson’s retiral in 1951 and death in 1955, Pilliner and his colleagues worked hard to continue the legacy of Room 70. Elsie Taylor, a BEd graduate and mathematical assistant who joined the Room 70 staff at around the same time as Pilliner, describes how the two of them single-handedly gave all of Thomson’s lectures to students of Moray House for an entire academic year. Pilliner took over the running of Room 70 and continued lecturing on the Dip Ed and BEd courses at Moray House for a number of years. In 1961 he conducted his first tour abroad, in Israel, on behalf of UNESCO. This was very successful and he was invited to work for the National Foundation of Educational Research, the English equivalent of SCRE, who he turned down in favour of remaining in Scotland and continuing the work of Room 70. However, during the 1970s the new Professor of Education at the University, Liam Hudson, was philosophically opposed to the work of Room 70 and Pilliner once again entered into discussions with NFER. He spent the majority of the remainder of his career working as a consultant to the British Council, UNESCO and other bodies, conducting research into the educational and examination systems of countries throughout the world, including Mauritius, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Pilliner remained mentally active right up until his death at the age of 94 in 2003.

Robert Robertson Rusk

– with help from the SEJ

Originally from Ayr & educated at Ayr Grammar School and Ayr Academy, Rusk graduated in arts with first-class honours from Glasgow University in 1903, before gaining his PhD at Jena University 3 years later and a BA degree from Cambridge in 1910.

Rusk was a lecturer in education and psychology at the teacher training college at Dundee/ St Andrews before becoming principal lecturer in education at Jordanhill in 1923. Rusk was one of the educationists whose forceful arguments led to the setting up of the Scottish Council for Research in Education in 1928 and he was the Council’s first director, appointed in 1930 on an honorary and part-time basis. He presided over the Council’s affairs for the next 30 years – retaining the post event after his retirement. Rusk retired from Jordanhill in 1946 but then took up a post as an education lecturer at Glasgow University before retiring for a second time in 1951. A philosopher at heart, Rusk wrote a number of works on experimental education and the philosophy of education.

Rusk was offered but declined all academic honours; however the British Psychological Society got the better of him by conferring him an Honorary Fellowship without asking his permission. Rusk allowed the Honour to go through, but he never acknowledged it or used it publicly (from RR’s autobiography).

An extract from Rusk’s obituary in the Scottish Educational Journal:

“A correspondent writes: ‘Robert R Rusk was one of a group of prominent educators whose contribution to Scottish education gave this country an outstanding international reputation: they included William McClelland, Godfrey Thomson, James Drever and William Boyd. All had a special interest in the Scottish Council for Research in Education and devoted much of their time and energy to promoting its development. All accepted the leadership of Robert R Rusk. ‘To study with this group the planning of an educational investigation was an unforgettable experience. Rusk, basically a philosopher, was quite at home with statistical concepts: it was a measure of a remarkably high intelligence. He was kindly, humorous and generous and those who embarked on a Research Council project received encouragement and the generous offer of personal assistance. He was down-to-earth and intensely disliked any form of intellectual snobbery. A lecture by him, no matter how abstruse the topic, was delivered in a matter-of-fact style in a voice that never lost its trace of his West of Scotland origin. About the only time he showed hostility was towards those in authority who could not share his enthusiasm for research in education. ‘Like his outstanding contemporaries, he wrote clearly, and inevitably expressed his concern with the social effects of education. “Education stands in need of men and women of imaginative insight who look beyond the present and behold the vision splendid.”: Robert R Rusk was such a man.’”

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