2015 Janet Taylor Spence Award

Jeffrey D. Karpicke

Purdue University


What is the focus of your award-winning research?

Research in my laboratory sits at the interface between cognitive science and education. Our research has been especially focused on the importance of retrieval processes for learning. My goal is to identify effective strategies that promote long-term meaningful learning and comprehension.

How did you develop an interest in this area?

There is a significant need now for research that integrates the theoretical tools and methods from cognitive science with the content and learning goals in education. This is an exciting time to be conducting this research because there is the potential to have an impact both on theoretical ideas about how the mind works and on practical strategies that can be used in educational settings.

Who are your mentors and/or biggest psychological influences?

I have had three outstanding academic mentors: David Pisoni, my undergraduate mentor at Indiana University; Henry (Roddy) Roediger, my graduate mentor at Washington University in St. Louis; and James Nairne, my mentor and colleague at Purdue University. In addition, my father John Karpicke, sparked my interest in the scientific study of learning when I was young. I am extremely grateful to these four people. I am also very fortunate to have several great colleagues and a terrific group of students who have influenced me in many ways.

What unique factors have contributed to your early success?

I think our work has garnered some attention and had some impact because we are attempting to integrate ideas from the cognitive science of learning within research on real-world problems in education. I think the time is ripe for this approach, and learning is something that many people care a great deal about.

What does winning this award mean to you both personally and professionally?

It is a great honor to receive this award and to be recognized as a part of this remarkable group of early career psychological scientists.