2013 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award

Diane F. Halpern

Claremont McKenna College

As a cognitive psychologist, Diane F. Halpern is a superb researcher who embraces the responsibility of scientists to pursue the implications of scientific findings into the realms of application and public policy.

Why do men dominate the fields of science, engineering, and mathematics? Should there be single-sex schooling? What is intelligence? How do people learn? Always evident in her writing about thought and knowledge, her answers to apparently straightforward questions like these are far from simple, yet they are clear. Her research has yielded many principles of learning, such as the importance of formative assessment to learning, and she has designed and implemented programs for — among other areas — undergraduate education in psychology, critical thinking, spatial thinking, and even automated tutoring. Crucially, she applies her research findings in her own practice as a teacher and educator.

For another example of her work, consider the low approval ratings of the U.S. Congress. During 2012, Congress’s approval rating fell to 10 percent, (an all-time low) in February and again in August. Can the excessive partisanship that sparked this low rating be ameliorated? In a popular TEDx talk delivered in November 2012, Halpern drew on psychological science to examine its causes and proposed seven practical solutions citizens can implement to reduce partisanship and promote cooperation.

Especially known for her incisive research, writings, and presentations on individual differences, teaching, learning, and critical thinking, Halpern is an exceptional leader in furthering psychological science along all of its frontiers, from research in the laboratory and in the field, to the testing and implementation of applications based on solid research, to open discourse about important public policy questions.