Daniel Willingham earned his B.A. from Duke University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University in 1990. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. Until about 2000, his research focused solely on the brain basis of learning and memory. Today, all of his research concerns the application of cognitive psychology to K-16 education.
He writes the “Ask the Cognitive Scientist” column for American Educator magazine, and is the author of several books. His writing on education has appeared in seventeen languages. In 2017 he was appointed by President Obama to serve as a Member of the National Board for Education Sciences.
Dr. Willingham will start by reviewing what researchers know about the mental processes that underlie reading comprehension, and he will use that analysis as a lens through which to consider methods of improving reading comprehension. The session will conclude that (1) leisure reading is helpful, but may not be as helpful as we’d hope; (2) reading comprehension strategy instruction offers a huge advantage, but it’s a one-time boost; (3) background knowledge is likely the most significant aid to comprehension.