Volume 9, Number 1

March, 2005

Submissions Welcome!

The Editors encourage submission of any announcements, and/or letters to the editors, regarding psychological science. 

Comments on the content and presentation of the newsletter are also appreciated.

Submit to:


Editors, The Experimental Psychology Bulletin

Kristi S. Multhaup

Davidson College

(704) 894-2008


Mark E. Faust

Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte

(704) 687-3564


 Humor Needed…

Why waste your time subjecting your family and friends to your humor when you can elicit guffaws from your colleagues?  Send us your science related humor: krmulthaup@davidson.edu 

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Questions:  Send e-mail to Neal Johnson, Ohio State University, johnson64@osu.edu

Division Representatives



Alice Healy

University of Colorado

(303) 492-5032



Thomas R. Zentall

University of Kentucky

(859) 257-4076


Past President

Randall W. Engle

Georgia Institute of Technology

(404) 894-8036



David S. Gorfein

University of Texas at Arlington

(817) 272-3200



Charles L. Brewer

Furman University

(803) 2943216


Members-At-Large of the Executive Committee

Ralph R. Miller (8/04-07)

Binghamton Univ., SUNY

(607) 777-2291


Nelson Cowan (8/04-07)

University of Missouri

(573) 882-7710


Veronica J. Dark (8/03-06)

Iowa State University

(515) 294-1688


Thomas R. Zentall (8/03-06)

University of Kentucky

(859) 257-4076


Earl B. Hunt (8/02-05)

University of Washington

(206) 543-8995


Judith F. Kroll (8/02-05)

Pennsylvania State University

(814) 863-0126


Representative to APA Council

Lewis P. Lipsitt (8/04-07)

Brown University

(401) 863-2332


Emanuel E. Donchin (8/03-06)

University of South Florida

(813) 974-0466


Board of Directors

J. Bruce Overmier

University of Minnesota

(612) 625-1835


Committee Chairs

James H. Neely (Awards)

SUNY at Alabany

(518) 442-5013


Mark H. Ashcraft (Fellows)

Cleveland State University

(216) 687-2545


Randall W. Engle (Membership)

Georgia Institute of Technology

(404) 894-8036


Sharon L. Armstrong (Program)

LaSalle University

(215) 951-1297


Deborah Clawson (Program)

Catholic University of America

(202) 319-6263






In Memory of Thomas O. Nelson

By Harry Bahrick with consultation from Bob Bjork


Thomas O. Nelson died unexpectedly on January 14th 2005 following open-heart surgery to repair an aortal aneurysm.

Tom was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in Roselle, New Jersey.  He completed his undergraduate degree at Trenton State College in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1970 at the University of Illinois where Charles Osgood was his mentor. He then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University with Gordon Bower as his sponsor. In 1971 he accepted a position at the University of Washington where he was promoted through the ranks to Professor and where he remained until 1995. During that time he also held part-time appointments at the University of California, Irvine. In 1995 he moved to the University of Maryland where he became Area Head of the Cognitive Psychology Program, a position he held at the time of his death.

Tom made outstanding contributions to experimental and cognitive psychology not only as a  creative scientist, but also as a teacher and as an editor. He became interested in memory research and methodology early in his career, and he maintained that focus throughout his life. He will be remembered best for his seminal publication with Narens (Nelson & Narens, 1990) which provided a conceptual framework that served to guide subsequent research on metacognitive processes. This archival paper outlined how various monitoring and control processes interact during encoding and retrieval of information. It gave coherence to, and energized, the then-fragmented research on metacognition.

In a broader sense, the Nelson and Narens paper gave impetus to the evolution of  memory research from a focus on subjects who respond mechanically to experimental controls to a focus on individuals who consciously and continuously monitor and control their cognitive activities in accord with the perceived demands of a situation. The paradigmatic shift to a focus on cognitive processes had been initiated much earlier, but the Nelson and Narens paper and the ensuing programmatic research provided concepts and tools essential for an objective study of the metacognitive processes that guide and influence learning and memory processes.

It is not possible in this brief account to do justice to Tom Nelsons’ multiple and substantive contributions to memory research, especially to metaconition. Two examples, however, may serve to illustrate the range and the impact of his research program which was  funded by a succession of grants from the National Institutes of Health. First, his highly influential research with John Dunlosky (e.g.,Nelson & Dunlosky, 1991) showed that individuals make far more accurate predictions of their future recall of memory content if their predictions are  delayed after the content has been studied, rather than assessed immediately.. This important discovery continues to stimulate scholarship aimed at clarifying the underlying metacognitive processes.

The second example is Tom’s paper with Gonzales (Gonzales & Nelson, 1996) which focused on quantitative assessment of the relations between metacognitive indicants and  their relationship to other indicants of learning and memory. This paper discussed the limitations of available statistics and showed why the Goodman-Kruskal Gamma coefficient should be the measure of choice under most circumstances. Ultimately, following the publication of the Gonzales and Nelson paper and several others published by Tom Nelson and his collaborators, the Gamma coefficient became a standard measure in research on metacognition.

As a teacher and mentor Tom was responsible for attracting a number of outstanding scholars to the field and for the post doctoral training of others. Among these are John Dunlosky, Ken Malmberg, Colin McLeod, Martin Meeters, Tom Schreiber, and Jim Van Overschelde. Tom’s courses on methodology and on the philosophy of science were famous for their excellence and rigor.

As an editor, Tom was recognized for his devotion to the field and for his high standards. He served as Associate Editor of Memory & Cognition, subsequently, Editor of Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, a position he held at the time of his death.

Among the honors Tom received during his career was a Senior Career Development  grant awarded by NIH to support his coordinating activities in support of metacognitive research, and a coveted Humboldt Scholarship in Germany.

In addition to being a gifted researcher, mentor, and editor, Tom Nelson was an outstanding mountaineer who participated in a Mount Everest expedition, and a competent athlete who enjoyed playing basketball, skiing, sailing and biking. He was a very talented man who will be missed and remembered by students, colleagues and friends, and his work will be known and respected by future generations of psychologists.  Tom is survived by his parents, Ruth and Arthur Nelson, and by two children, Jake, and Ashley.


Gonzalez, R. & Nelson, T.O. (1996). Measuring ordinal association in situations that contain tied scores. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 159- 165.

 Nelson, T.O. & Dunlosky, J (1991). The delayed-JOL effect: When delaying your judgements of learning can improve the accuracy of your metacognitive monitoring. Psychological Science, 2, 267-270.

Nelson, T.O. & Narens, L. (1990). Metamemory: A theoretical framework and some new findings. In G.H. Bower (Ed). The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 26, 125-173. New York: Academic Press