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Walter Kintsch, Tom Landauer, and Lyle Bourne (left to right in photo above) are three of the most eminent experimental psychologists of our time. Lyle Bourne (1991-1992) and Walter Kintsch (1993-1994) served as former Presidents of Division 3. All three of these giants in the field are colleagues of mine at the University of Colorado who recently retired from teaching (but not from research!). Last year, I had the privilege of hosting a Festschrift conference in Boulder honoring them, and this year a Festschrift volume that I edited will be published by APA.
All three of these individuals throughout their careers have done basic research on a wide range of topics in experimental cognitive psychology. In recent years all three have made important contributions to the understanding of learning, memory, information processing, discourse, and knowledge representation, and findings from these studies have direct practical implications for training, education, and testing. In the case of Lyle Bourne, his research has most recently been focused on the long-term retention and transfer of knowledge and skills with applications concerning military and industrial training. In the case of Walter Kinstch, his most recent research has been largely on text comprehension with applications concerning the teaching of reading and writing. Finally, in the case of Thomas Landauer, his recent research as been on the representation of knowledge, with applications concerning educational testing.
There were two types of sessions at the Festschrift conference. First, there were keynote addresses by eight distinguished researchers (John Anderson, Harry Bahrick, Alice Healy, Elizabeth Loftus, Mark McDaniel, Raymond Nickerson, Roger Schvaneveldt, and Robert Sternberg). Second, there were three symposia, each focusing on the career and contributions of one of the three Festschrift honorees. These symposia, which were each presented by four former students or collaborators of the honorees (Ronald Kellogg, Alinda Friedman, Peder Johnson, and Timothy Rickard for the Bourne symposium; Charles Weaver, Jaanice Keenan, Walter Perrig, and Vimla Patel for the Kintsch symposium; Lynn Streeter, Darrell Laham, Susan Dumais, and Ernst Rothkopf for the Landauer symposium), included discussions of those aspects of the honorees’ work that speak most strongly to the Festschrift theme of basic research on cognition with applications for real world problems.
The Festschrift volume, which is entitled Experimental Cognitive Psychology and its Applications, brings together contributions by some of the most significant contemporary experimental psychologists working in cognition including the areas of learning, memory, information processing, discourse, and knowledge representation. These authors include all eight of those giving keynote addresses at the Festschrift conference and seven others (Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Susan Goldman, Arthur Graesser, Gordon Logan, James Nairne, Robert Proctor, Richard Shiffrin), who served as session chairs at the conference. They and their co-authors share their perspectives and their recent research findings. These authors all have their own programs of empirical research that, like those of the honorees, have had a significant practical impact on everyday life. Thus, the contributors present summaries of their own basic research programs with a focus on the applications of their findings. Chapters summarizing the three symposia as well as biographical sketches of the three honorees also offer an enlightening historical perspective.
The experimental study of cognition has experienced rapid growth in the last decade. This topic is fundamental both to the science of psychology and to its applications to real world problems. However, there has traditionally been a huge gap between the basic research findings in this area and practice in the field. There, thus, remains a crucial need to bridge from the laboratory to the real world. The Festschrift conference and volume have brought together individuals who not only have a distinguished record as experimental psychologists but also have tried to show how their findings can be applied in the field. It is, therefore, my hope that practitioners in the field, including those in training, education, and testing, can integrate the ideas and results in the volume for use in practical applications. I also hope that other students and researchers in experimental psychology who are concerned with the core issues of human cognition will benefit from such integration.
It has been my pleasure and honor to work with the three honorees as a colleague and collaborator and to know them as friends. On a broad scale, they have helped shape the field of experimental cognitive psychology. On a more narrow scale, they have helped shape my own research and career. I have been stimulated and inspired by them, and I will be forever indebted to them for guiding and enriching my life. Thank you Lyle, Walter, and Tom!
The Festschrift volume, Experimental Cognitive Psychology and Its Applications, can be ordered by contacting APA at
American Psychological Association, Order Department
PO Box 92984
Washington, DC 20090-2984
Phone: (202) 336-5510; Fax: (202) 336-5502
Toll-free: (800) 374-2721; TDD/TTY 202-336-6123