Sandra L. Christenson

Outstanding Achievement Award Recipient

College of Education and Human Development, February 1, 2023

Sandra L. Christenson is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, graduating with a bachelor of arts in child psychology (1968) and a PhD (1988) in educational psychology. Christenson subsequently joined the faculty of the department of educational psychology and served within the school psychology program. Christenson’s research focuses on programs that enhance engagement at school and learning for marginalized students with and without disabilities. Notably, she created Check & Connect, an intervention used with K-12 students who show warning signs of disengagement with school and who are at risk of dropping out. Check & Connect is recognized by the National Dropout Prevention Center as a model program and its demonstrated outcomes include decreased truancy and increased school persistence, and has been implemented in schools and other settings across the U.S. and in five international locations. Christenson also had a 30+ year record of chairing task forces and committees for national school psychology groups and editorial work (e.g., section editor, associate editor, co-editor of major journals and book series). She has received numerous honors, including the Lightner Witmer Award and the Senior Scientist Award from the School Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association; the Ysseldyke Best Practices Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota School Psychologists Association; and the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Excellence in Research Award from the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. In retirement, Christenson remains active, continuing to consult with organizations interested in implementing Check & Connect, and also volunteering her time mentoring middle school students, as well as serving on committees focused on affordable housing to address homelessness. She consistently exemplifies high quality, integrity, and passion in all she does, and is committed to not only being a leader in her field, but to also being a collaborator and mentor.  

Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.