Adkins, Dorothy Christina, 1912-1975

Alternative names
Birth 1912-04-06
Death 1975-12-19

Biographical notes:

Dorothy Adkins was born on April 6, 1912 in Atlanta Georgia. She attended The Ohio State University for her B.S. (1931) and PhD (1937). Her dissertation under Herbert Toops was entitled A Comparative Study of Methods of Selecting Test Items .

Beginning in 1936, Adkins worked as a psychometrics assistant examiner under L.L. Thurstone at the University of Chicago. In 1938 she was promoted to research associate. From 1940-1944, Adkins took a position as chief research and test constructor for the United States Social Security Board. From 1944-48 she moved on to work for the United States Civil Service Commission as chief of social sciences administration testing, policy consultant, and chief test developer.

In 1948, Adkins entered the academic sphere as a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She remained there until 1965 and was Department Chair from 1950-1961. At the time, she was the only female department head at the university, and only one of a few coeducational departments throughout the United States. In 1966, Adkins took a position as an educational psychology professor and researcher at the University of Hawaii's Center for Research in Early Childhood Education until her retirement in 1973.

Adkins' training at Ohio State under Thurstone made her a measurement expert publishing many articles on the subject. She utilized the new statistical technique of factor analysis to study educational curriculum, program evaluation, and affect in children. With Bonnie Baliff, she published the "Gumpgookies" method of assessing child motivation to achieve in school. In this method, a child had to choose which of two imaginary Gumpgooky characters he or she identified with. Her well known book is: Test Construction: Development and Interpretation of Achievement Tests (1960).

Adkins was a member of the American Psychological Association as well as the Psychometric Society, of which she was President in 1949. Dorothy Adkins passed away in 1976.

From the guide to the Dorothy C. Adkins papers, 1925-1975, (Center for the History of Psychology)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Psychology
  • Psychologist, American
  • Psychology--History
  • Head Start program (U.S.)
  • Psychological tests for children
  • Psychologists
  • Achievement motivation
  • Educational psychology
  • History of psychology
  • Psychological tests, design and construction
  • Psychology--History--20th century
  • Testing
  • Psychological tests, statistics
  • Psychologists--United States
  • Psychological tests


not available for this record


not available for this record