Thomas D. Cook

Joan and Sarepta Harrison Chair of Ethics and Justice | Professor of Sociology, Psychology, and Education and Social Policy (on leave)


Thomas Cook is interested in social science research methodology, program evaluation, whole school reform, and contextual factors that influence adolescent development, particularly for urban minorities.

Cook has written or edited 10 books and published numerous articles and book chapters. He received the Myrdal Prize for Science from the Evaluation Research Society in 1982, the Donald Campbell Prize for Innovative Methodology from the Policy Sciences Organization in 1988, the Distinguished Scientist Award of Division 5 of the American Psychological Association in 1997, and the Sells Award for Lifetime Achievement, Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology in 2008, and the Rossi Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management in 2012. He was chair of the board of the Russell Sage Foundation from 2006 to 2008. Cook was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000 and was inducted as the Margaret Mead Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2003. He was part of the congressionally appointed committee evaluating Title I (No Child Left Behind) from 2006 to 2008.

Selected Publications

See Curriculum Vitae for downloadable copies of papers (pdf)

On Theory of Method:

Wong, V. C., P. Steiner, and T. D. Cook. 2012. Analyzing regression-discontinuity designs with multiple assignment variables: A comparative study of four estimation methods. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics.

Steiner, P., T. D. Cook, W. Shadish. 2011. On the importance of reliable covariate measurement in selection bias adjustments using propensity scores. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics 36(2): 213–36.

Steiner, P., T. D. Cook, W. Shadish, and M. H. Clark. 2010. The importance of covariate selection in controlling for selection bias in observational studies. Psychological Methods 15(3): 250–67.

Cook, T. D., P. Steiner, and S. Pohl. 2010. Assessing how bias reduction is influenced by covariate choice, unreliability and data analytic mode: An analysis of different kinds of within-study comparisons in different substantive domains. Multivariate Behavioral Research 44(6): 828-47.

Cook, T. D., and P. Steiner. 2010. Case matching and the reduction of selection bias in quasi-experiments: The relative importance of covariate choice, unreliable measurement, and mode of data analysis. Psychological Methods 15(1): 56-68.

Pohl, S., P. Steiner, J. Eisermann, R. Soellner, R. and T. D. Cook. 2009. Unbiased causal inference from an observational study: Results of a within-study comparison. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 31(4): 463-79.

Cook, T. D., and V. C. Wong. Forthcoming. Empirical tests of the validity of the regression discontinuity design (pdf). Annales d'Economie et de Statistique.

Matt, G., and T. D. Cook. 2009. Threats to the validity of research syntheses. In Handbook of Research Synthesis, 2nd ed., ed. H. Cooper and L. V. Hedges, 503–20. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Shadish, W., and T. D. Cook. 2009. The renaissance of experiments. Annual Review of Psychology 60:607–29.

Cook, T. D., W. Shadish, and V. C. Wong. 2008. Three conditions under which observational studies produce the same results as experiments. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 274:724–50.

Cook, T. D. 2008. "Waiting for life to arrive": A history of the regression-discontinuity design in psychology, statistics and economics. Journal of Econometrics 1422:636–54.

Cook, T. D. 2005. Emergent principles for the design, implementation and analysis of cluster-based experiments in social science. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 599:176–98.

Cook, T. D. 2004. Causal generalization: How Campbell and Cronbach influenced my theoretical thinking on this topic, including in Shadish, Cook, and Campbell. In Evaluation Roots: Tracing Theorists' Views and Influences, ed. M. Alkin, 88–113. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Educational Reform and Evaluation:

Cook, T. D., and P. J. Hirschfield. 2008. Comer’s School Development Program in Chicago, Effects on Involvement with the Juvenile Justice System from the Late Elementary through the High School Years. American Educational Research Journal 45(1): 38–67.

Wong, V. C., T. D. Cook, S. W. Barnett, and K. Jung. 2008. An effectiveness-based evaluation of five state pre-kindergarten programs. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 27(1): 122–54.

Cook, T. D. 2007. School-based management, A concept of modest entitivity with modest results. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education 20:129–45.

Cook, T. D. 2007. Randomized experiments in education: Assessing the objections to doing them. Economics of Innovation and New Technology 16(5): 331–55.

Cook, T. D., and V. C. Wong. 2007. The warrant for universal pre-K: Can several thin reeds make a strong policy boat? Social Policy Report XXI (3): 14–15.

Cook, T. D. 2006. Describing what is special about the role of experiments in contemporary educational research. Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation, 6 November.

Cook, T. D. 2003. Why have educational evaluators chosen not to do randomized experiments? Annals of American Academy of Political and Social Science 589: 114–49.

Cook, T. D. 2002. Randomized experiments in educational policy research: A critical examination of the reasons the educational evaluation community has offered for not doing them. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 24(3):175–99.

Cook, T. D., H. D. Hunt, and R. F. Murphy. 2000. Comer’s school development program in Chicago: A theory-based evaluation. American Educational Research Journal 37(2): 535–97.

Cook, T. D., F. Habib, M. Phillips, R. A. Settersten, S. C. Shagle, and S. M. Degirmencioglu. 1999. Comer's school development program in Prince George’s County: A theory-based evaluation. American Educational Research Journal 36(3, 543–597.

Program Evaluation Theory:

Cook, T. D., M. Scriven, C. L. S. Coryn, and S. D. H. Evergreen. 2009. Contemporary thinking about causation in evaluation: A dialogue with Tom Cook and Michael Scriven. American Journal of Evaluation. Published online on December 4, 2009 as doi:10.1177/1098214009354918.

Cook, T. D., and S. Gorard. 2007. Where does good evidence come from? International Journal of Research and Method in Education 30(3): 307–323.

Cook, T. D., and D. Foray. 2007. Building the capacity to experiment in schools: A case study of the Institute of Educational Sciences in the U. S. Department of Education. Economics of Innovation and New Technology 16(5): 385–402.

Cook, T. D. 2000. Towards a practical theory of external validity. In Validity and Social Experimentation: Donald Campbell’s Legacy, vol. I, ed. L. Bickman, 3–43. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Cook, T. D. 2000. The false choice between theory-based evaluation and experimentation. New Directions in Evaluation: Challenges and Opportunities in Program Theory Evaluation 87:27–34.

On Youth and Social Contexts:

Cook, T. D., Deng, Y., & Morgano, E. 2007. Friendship influences during early adolescence: The special role of friends’ grade point average. Journal of Research on Adolescence 17(2): 325–56.

Ghaziani, A., and T. D. Cook. 2005. Reducing HIV infections at circuit parties: From description to explanation and principles of intervention design. Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care 4(2): 32–46.

Cook, T. D. 2003. The rationale for studying multiple contexts simultaneously. Addiction 98(supp 1): 151–55.

Cook, T. D. 2002. Committee on Community-Level Programs for Youth. Community Programs to Promote Youth Development, ed. J. Eccles and J. Appleton Gootman, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Cook, T. D., M. Herman, M. Phillips, and R. J. Setterston, Jr. 2002. Some ways in which neighborhoods, nuclear families, friendship groups and schools jointly affect changes in early adolescent development. Child Development 73(4): 1283–309.

Fleming, J. E., T. D. Cook, and C. A. Stone. 2002. Interactive influences of perceived social contexts on the reading achievement of urban middle schoolers with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice 17(1): 47–64.

Cook, T. D., and F. F. Furstenberg, Jr. 2002. Explaining the transition to adulthood: A multi-disciplinary, case study synthesis for Italy, Sweden, Germany, and the USA. Annals of American Academy of Political and Social Science 580: 257–87.

Under Review

Wong, M., T. D. Cook, and P. M. Steiner. No Child Left Behind: An interim evaluation of its effects on learning using two interrupted time series each with its own non-equivalent comparison series. (Under review.)