Amber Esping, Ph.D.

Amber Esping, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Program Area: Educational Psychology

(817) 257-6025  |

Texas Christian University
TCU Box 297900
Fort Worth, TX 76129


Amber Esping earned a degree in clarinet performance from California State University, Northridge, where she studied with Dr. Charles Bay. She also completed a program in music therapy while at CSUN. For twelve years she worked in the Los Angeles area as a private clarinet teacher. The opportunity to work with many students on an individual basis every week taught her to appreciate both the singular learning needs of particular students and some universal principles of successful pedagogy. Many students took lessons for multiple years, allowing Dr. Esping to watch them grow from elementary or middle school students into young adults ready for college. From this she learned the importance of developmental perspectives on learning. Most music lessons took place in students’ homes, which revealed the importance of family context in human development and learning. These early experiences with human learning and development piqued her interest in the field of educational psychology. In 2000 Dr. Esping published Sympathetic Vibrations: A Guide for Private Music Teachers, a book which aims to help performers who teach private lessons. The next year she left Los Angeles to earn Masters and Ph.D. degrees at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her doctoral degree in educational psychology specialized in learning, cognition and instruction, with double minors in inquiry methodology and neural science.

After her first book, Dr. Esping’s scholarship moved away from music and now follows two sustained strands: (1) the application of existential psychology (logotherapy) to academic contexts and (2) the history of intelligence theory and testing. Logotherapy is an existential psychotherapy that utilizes the human search for meaning as an avenue for mental health. Dr. Esping’s logotherapy research explores the ways in which teachers, faculty, and students use learning and teaching to discover meaning in personal adversity. She is discovering that many educators view themselves as wounded healers, and both learning and teaching can be logotherapeutic. A representative publication is From “At-risk” Youth to Wounded Healer: A Longitudinal Study of two Preservice Teachers. A forthcoming book to be published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2018 also explores these issues.

Dr. Esping’s human intelligence scholarship looks at the ways in which psychologists, educators, and others have approached the challenge of defining and measuring human intelligence. Far more than a psychometric puzzle, questions about human intelligence raise many philosophical, ethical, and sociological questions. This writing is usually done with Dr. Jonathan Plucker of Johns Hopkins. The most comprehensive of these publications is a book, Intelligence 101. This book is also available in a Korean translation.

Dr. Esping is a very happy wife and mom. Her son Dylan is also a proud TCU Horned Frog.


Ph.D., Educational Psychology
Indiana University

M.S., Educational Psychology
Indiana University

B.M., Clarinet Performance/Music Therapy
California State University, Northridge

Teaching Areas

  • Educational Psychology
  • Existential Psychology & Human Resilience
  • Human Development
  • Philosophical Underpinnings of Psychotherapy

Research Areas

  • Application of Existential Psychology (logotherapy) to Educational Contexts
  • History of Intelligence Theory and Testing

Selected Existential Psychology Publications

Esping, A. (2013). From “at-risk” youth to wounded Healer: A longitudinal study of two preservice teachers. International Journal for Qualitative Studies in Education, 26(5), DOI:10.1080/09518398.2013.775375.

Esping, A. (2012). Logotherapy in educational contexts: A survey of English-language literature. The International Forum for Logotherapy, 35(1), 1-11.

Esping, A. (2011). Autoethnography as logotherapy: An existential analysis of meaningful social science inquiry. Journal of Border Educational Research, 9(1), 59-68.

Esping, A. (2010). A longitudinal case study of graduate school as logotherapy for an international Ph.D. student studying in the United States. [Electronic version.] International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy 3(2), 83-109.

Esping, A. (2010). Motivation in doctoral programs: A logotherapeutic perspective. The International Forum for Logotherapy33(2), 72-78.

Esping, A. (2010). Autoethnography and existentialism: The conceptual contributions of Viktor Frankl.  Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 41(2), 201-215.

Esping, A. (2009). Frankl’s “platform” as a metaphor for unusually personal dissertation projects.  The International Forum for Logotherapy, 32(1), 37-43.

Selected Human Intelligence Publications

Esping, A., & Plucker, J. A. (2015). Alfred Binet and the children of Paris. In S. Goldstein & J. Naglieri (Eds.), Handbook of intelligence: Evolutionary theory, historical perspectives, and current concepts (pp. 153-161). New York: Springer.

Plucker, J.A., & Esping, A. (2015). Intelligence and creativity: A complex but important relationship.  Asia Pacific Education Review, 16(2), 153-159.

Plucker, J. A., Esping, A., Kaufman, J. C., & Avitia, M. J. (2015). Creativity and intelligence. In S. Goldsetin, & J. Naglieri (Eds.), Handbook of intelligence: Evolutionary theory, historical perspectives, and current concepts (pp. 283-291). New York:  Springer.

Plucker, J. A., & Esping, A. (2014). Intelligence 101. New York: Springer. (Also available in a Korean translation).

Plucker, J. A., & Esping, A. (2014). Developing and maintaining a website for teaching and learning about intelligence. Intelligence, 42(1), 171-175.

Esping, A., & Plucker, J. A., (2014). Intelligence measurement. In B. S. Steele (Ed.), Science and politics: An A to Z guide to issues and controversies (pp 315-320). Washington, DC:  CQ/Sage.

Esping, A., & Plucker, J. A. (2013). Intelligence. Oxford Bibliographies in “Psychology.” Dana S. Dunn, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press.