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Cognitive Psychology

About the Cognitive Psychology Program

The cognitive psychology program at Kent State University is comprised of an active and collaborative group of faculty and students whose research focuses on higher level cognitive processes such as learning and memory, automaticity, cognitive aging, cognitive and language development, reading and spelling, text comprehension, education, and metacognition.  These research efforts include studies of normative cognitive functioning as well as attempts to understand how cognitive processes change with development across the lifespan, and how they are affected by brain injury and traumatic stress. A key theme is the generation of basic knowledge about cognitive processes and the application of that knowledge to real world issues and situations, such as the reliability of eyewitness memory and methods for improving  student achievement.

The cognitive program maintains active laboratories with state of the art equipment for research and graduate training. Our newly renovated facility includes ample office and laboratory space for graduate students. Laboratory facilities include a Dual Purkinje eyetracker for studying online processing during reading, multimedia work stations for presenting stimuli and collecting data, computer-controlled experimental stations for testing participants, and interview rooms for testing adults and preschool children.  Faculty and students conduct a sizeable amount of research with the Psychology Department's large pool of student participants.  Many other studies are conducted with special populations such as children, older adults, and patients with cognitive disorders as a result of brain injury or trauma.

Most graduates are employed in colleges and universities across the country, where they are engaged in research and teaching. Other graduates have pursued more applied goals and are employed in research institutes, laboratories, and human service settings. The chief aim of the program is to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to attain their own goals as researchers and teachers in psychology.

Research Training in Cognitive Psychology

The cognitive program is designed to train students in conducting and communicating high-quality psychological research.  As a graduate student in the cognitive program, you will have an opportunity to collaborate closely with one or more faculty members in ongoing research projects, from conception to publication.  In the first year, students begin a research project under the supervision of one of the cognitive faculty. Often, this first year research project broadens into the topic of the masters' thesis.  As students progress through the graduate program, they are encouraged to pursue additional collaborative and independent research projects, culminating in a dissertation project that often reflects the students' unique interests and expertise.

In the first two years, graduate students also take a number of graduate courses and seminars that cover current research in cognitive psychology, cognitive development, cognitive neuropsychology, research methods, and statistical analyses.  Students in the cognitive program may elect to gain additional training by pursuing a quantitative minor.

In addition, faculty and students in the cognitive program meet twice a month for the "cognitive brown-bag."  In the brownbag, students and faculty present research ideas and learn about current research trends, attend research presentations by guest speakers from other institutions, and discuss issues relevant to professional and career development.

Program Requirements

Students in the Cognitive area earn MAs and PhDs in Experimental Psychology. Students in the Cognitive area earn MAs and PhDs in Experimental Psychology.  Students are actively involved in research throughout their graduate career.  The minimum requirements for the Ph.D. are the following:    

Three core courses.
Three statistics/methodology courses.
Five additional courses, including College Teaching of Psychology.
A first-year research project, including an oral presentation of results.
M.A. thesis, including an oral exam.
Written candidacy examination in area of concentration.
Fourth year oral presentation of research program
Ph.D. dissertation, including an oral defense.

All graduate students are eligible to receive financial support, usually in the form of a graduate assistantship, which is viewed as an integral part of the program. Both research and teaching skills are advanced by the graduate assistantships. Through a research assignment, students are involved directly in research with faculty. In later years, students develop teaching skills through instruction of undergraduate psychology classes.

Core Faculty
Dr. John Dunlosky - Cognitive aging, metacognition, and education. Linking theory to applications aimed at improving student learning and achievement.

Dr. Jill Folk - Skilled reading and spelling, reading and spelling disability, and cognitive neuropsychology.

Dr. William Merriman - Children's language, memory, and thought.

Dr. Katherine Rawson - Text comprehension, how reading processes become automatic, how to improve student learning, and metacognition.

Dr. Clarissa Thompson - Mathematics education interventions, representational change, development of learning and memory.

Dr. Maria Zaragoza - False memory and false belief; source monitoring, eyewitness suggestibility.

Faculty with Related Interests

  • Dr. Nancy Docherty (Adult Psychopathology) studies emotional and cognitive dysfunctions in major mental illness.
  • Dr. Stephen Fountain (Behavioral Neuroscience) studies comparative cognition and knowledge representation in neural networks.
  • Dr. John Gunstad (Assessment) uses neuropsychological tests to study factors that limit test validity and the effects of age and disease on cognition.
  • Dr. David Riccio (Behavioral Neuroscience) studies animal models in of memory and amnesia.
  • Dr. John Updegraff (Social-Health) studies cognitive and emotional processes involved in well-being and adjustment to stress; how to present health information in ways that effectively promotes health behavior change.
  • Dr. Chris Was (Educational Psychology) is interested in measuring individual differences relevant to basic cognitive abilities and to motivation relevant to student achievement.

Graduate Courses in Cognitive Psychology

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Development
  • Cognitive Neuropsychology
  • Memory and Cognition
  • Reading Processes
  • Seminar: Automaticity and Skill Acquisition
  • Seminar:  Cognition and Education
  • Seminar: Memory and Memory Distortion
  • Seminar:  Metacognition
  • Seminar: Language Comprehension Processes
  • Seminar: Working Memory
  • Seminar: Cognitive Aging

Recent Cognitive Ph.D.'s

  • Bonnie Angelone, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, College of New Jersey)
  • Melissa Beck, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University)
  • Heather Bailey, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington University)
  • Stephanie Buchert, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Longwood College)
  • Quinn Chrobak, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh)
  • Jessica Hanba, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Kalamazoo College)
  • Lesley Hathorn, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Metropolitan State College of Denver)
  • Angela Jones, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, John Carroll University)
  • Isabel LaCruz, Ph.D. (NTT Assistant Professor, Kent State University)
  • Dianne Learned, Ph.D. (Visiting Assistant Professor, Western Washington University)
  • Amanda Lipko, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, The College at Brockport SUNY)
  • Stacy Lipowski, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Highpoint University)
  • Nausheen Momen, Ph.D. (Research Psychologist, Naval Aerospace Medical Research Lab)
  • Kristie Payment, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Ohio Northern University)
  • Mary Pyc, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington University)
  • Mike Serra, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Texas Tech)
  • Yukari Takare, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Zachariah Moore, Ph.D. (Kent State University - Geauga)
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