Abstracts & Bios

 Andrew Butler SQ

Andrew Butler

Talk Title TBD


Dr. Andrew C. Butler  is the chair and an associate professor in the Department of Education at Washington University in St. Louis. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. He earned a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Washington University in St. Louis in 2009 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University. Dr. Butler’s research focuses on applying the science of learning to enhance educational practice with a particular emphasis on the complexity of implementation within context. He is interested in student-centered interventions that involve implementing simple but powerful principles within educational contexts to improve long-term retention, promote deeper understanding, and motivate engagement and persistence in the face of challenge. In addition, he is interested in helping teachers to acquire knowledge about how to use principles from the science of learning to improve and expand their pedagogy. Finally, he also investigates how technology can be leveraged to facilitate learning inside and outside of the classroom.




E Canning SQ

Elizabeth Canning


Instructors as Meaning-Makers: Growth Mindset Messages that Support Stigmatized Students

In this talk, Dr. Canning will discuss her recent research on cultivating growth mindset cultures in the classroom—the idea that anyone can develop their abilities over time with good strategies, hard work, and seeking help. Three empirical studies suggest that growth mindset messages from instructors inspire motivation and promote performance for people historically excluded due to their ethnicity/race, women in STEM fields, and first-generation college students. Discussion will center on evidenced-based, practical strategies that instructors can implement in their classes to narrow performance gaps and support stigmatized students.


Dr. Elizabeth A. Canning is an Assistant Professor at Washington State University. She received her PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She specializes in the study of achievement motivation, social inequality, and social-psychological interventions in education and organizations.




Karl Szpunar SQ

Karl Szpunar


Applying the Science of Learning to Unconstrained Virtual Environments

Over the last 15 years, psychologists have increasingly leveraged the principles of learning and memory to improve the quality of teaching and learning in educational settings. I will focus on the application of these principles to one salient obstacle to learning—the (limited) capacity to devote sustained effort and attention over extended periods of time. I will begin by demonstrating how the simple act of interpolating extended sequences of study with memory tests can sustain high levels of learning over time. Next, I will show how the practice of interpolating study with tests can help to improve attention and learning of video-recorded lecture materials. Finally, I will conclude by describing new research from our laboratory that examines whether these benefits extend to unconstrained virtual environments.


At Toronto Metropolitan University, Dr. Szpunar directs the Memory Lab. The Memory Lab conducts research that elucidates the cognitive and neural mechanism supporting functional uses of memory in daily life. Topics of interest include the role of memory in learning and future thinking. Specifically, the Memory Lab is currently carrying out research that aims to (i) help learners overcome the limits of attention and memory in traditional educational settings, (ii) understand the role of memory in giving rise to spontaneous mental simulations of future events and their impact on behaviour and well-being, and (iii) understand how memory and future thinking in young and older adults can impact the future of society. Insights from these lines of research are being used to develop novel interventions for improving educational outcomes and public health. These various research activities are made possible by funding support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the National Science Foundation.




Amy Pachai SQ

Amy Pachai


Irina Ghilic SQ

Irina Ghilic


The Backstage of Education: How Non-Teaching Roles Translate Cognitive Science Research into Effective Learning Experiences Design

Experience designers have a motto: "great experiences don't happen accidentally". An engaging learning experience requires intentionality, which can be achieved by planning the details of the experience and creating an environment conducive to learning. Learning Experience Designers, Educational Developers, and other people who work “behind the scenes” in education can act as the bridge between cognitive science research and real-life learning. How might we translate research into practice? What opportunities or barriers might we face? A key factor to applying learning experience design is to foster an environment of co-creation: all voices are important. This talk will focus on how people in teaching and non-teaching roles can design memorable and inclusive learning experiences by intersecting cognitive science research and accessible experience design.


Dr. Amy Pachai is an Educational Developer on the Teaching and Learning Services team at DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University. Since joining DeGroote, she has worked with instructors, staff, and students to create and execute an innovative new blended learning MBA program for working professionals, launched in Fall 2018. Now, she supports the faculty and staff across DeGroote on their courses and programs from design through to feedback and continuous improvement. Prior to this role, her doctoral research explored ways to reduce mind wandering and improve learning. Amy has facilitated learning experiences for diverse audiences on topics such as creating effective assessments, maximizing the impact of your LMS, design thinking, scientific writing skills, business communication, and study strategies for students. Amy’s work connects evidence-based best practices with the complex realities of teaching and learning in 2023. Her goal is to create effective learning experiences that centre the humans involved.


Dr. Irina Ghilic is a Learning Experience Designer on the Teaching and Learning Services team at DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University. With over twelve years of experience designing, developing, and promoting quality culture for teaching and learning in education, Irina has a diverse skill set in curriculum design, educational development, learning research, creative problem solving, strategic planning, and project management. Irina’s work practice intersects inclusive design, cognitive science, and the use of technology in education, and her doctoral dissertation focused on cognitive offloading, note-taking, and identifying the gaps between applied research and inclusive learning design. As a Learning Experience Designer, Irina explores a learner’s entire journey and creates human-centric solutions that go beyond the traditional boundaries of instructional design. Her ongoing work with educators and learners is driven by accessibility practices, research-based outcomes in teaching and learning, and digital learning development practices.