Tom Toleno has broad interests in psychology, from the history and theory of the science to educational, developmental and clinical psychology. His long-standing interest in perception is based on his graduate work at Cornell University under the tutelage of the late James J. Gibson. Tom believes the study of psychology is especially useful for liberal arts students, because it places so much emphasis on “the individual process,” which students can apply to their own lives. “Psychology is distinguished from other fields by its emphasis on a person’s individual experience in understanding phenomena.”

Teaching Philosophy

Tom’s teaching of general psychology is inspired by the field’s historical and philosophical roots. A strong proponent of individualized education, he maintains that accessibility to faculty “provides the motivation and context for learning to take place.” Tom adds, “Any project students undertake is secondary to the skills they learn and the way they integrate and synthesize what they have learned.”

Scholarly Activities

Tom’s current research proceeds from his two Fulbright teaching grants (2002-3) in Malawi, Africa, where he became head of the department of education and teaching studies at Mzuzu University. There he built up the research component of the university’s educational psychology program, training professors and advising upperclassmen. He continues to travel with colleagues in Malawi to support research in child developmental studies, motivation and leadership in schools. Tom feels “honored to share his knowledge of research and to apply basic psychological principles to educating the Malawian people.”

Tom was hired by Marlboro College in 1972.


  • Department Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies


B.A., University of Nevada
Advanced Graduate Study, Cornell University