High-powered panel to discuss the science of learning at MSU symposium

September 26, 2016


Contact: Karyn Brown

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A public forum examining the implications of research on the cognitive psychological science and neuroscience of learning and instruction will be held next week at Mississippi State.

Six internationally recognized researchers will be featured at the free university event taking place 9 a.m.-noon Sept. 30 in the Colvard Student Union’s Foster Ballrooms S and U.

The “Symposium on the Optimization of Learning and Teaching” features presentations by Robert A. Bjork of the University of California, Los Angeles; David J. Francis of the University of Houston; Mark Guadagnoli of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Thad Polk of the University of Michigan; Daniel Schacter of Harvard University; and David E. Sherwood of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Their topics will range from the importance of becoming an effective learner to practical implications for learning in educational contexts. A question-and-answer session with audience members also will be part of the program.


MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences and its Department of Psychology, along with the MSU Foundation, are symposium sponsors.

Noting that “six world-renowned researchers will be presenting cutting-edge scientific research on how to enhance student learning,” associate professor Deborah Eakin said the symposium offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear from multiple distinguished researchers at one time. She and others in the psychology department and college are encouraging faculty and students both on campus and at area institutions of higher learning and communities to attend.

“Mississippi State strives to be on the forefront of providing quality education to its students, and this symposium both informs and inspires that mission,” Eakin said. “It will provide an unprecedented opportunity for the exchange of ideas between these leading scientists and faculty scientists at the university who are also doing cutting-edge research on the science of learning.”


Regarding the speakers:

—Bjork, the Department of Psychology Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA, is an expert on human learning and memory. His research on how the science of learning informs teaching has impacted students and faculty worldwide.

—Francis is the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston. He also directs UH’s Center for Advanced Computing and Data Systems and leads the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics. He lends his expertise in measurement and quantitative analysis to the study of learning.

—Mark Guadagnoli, a neuroscience and neurology professor who directs learning and performance programs at UNLV’s School of Medicine, is an authority in performance optimization and optimized learning. He is also the author of the book, “Practice to Learn/Play to Win.”

—Polk, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology, is a University of Michigan specialist in cognition and cognitive neuroscience, with research interests in cognitive aspects of smoking cessation and how neural structures change with aging.

—Schacter is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He studies psychological and biological aspects of human memory, as well as memory distortion and mind-wandering. He is the author of the book, “The Seven Sins of Memory.”

—Sherwood, associate professor in the University of Colorado’s Department of Integrative Physiology, researches such topics as the acquisition and control of multi-limb actions, as well as optimizing performance.

Rick Travis, interim MSU arts and sciences dean, invited area educators and all others interested in expanding their understanding of the learning process and ways to improve education to take part.

Travis said the symposium has been designed “to benefit anyone interested in various theories of how people learn,” he said, adding, “We are very fortunate that psychologists of this caliber are presenting their research and theories at MSU.”


For complete information about the College of Arts and Sciences, visit www.cas.msstate.edu; the psychology department at www.psychology.msstate.edu; and the MSU Foundation at www.msufoundation.com.


For additional details on the symposium, contact Eakin at 662-325-3202 or de115@msstate.edu.


MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.