About [cognitioneducation]

January 5, 2016

Dear Readers,

Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you are here. I’d like to tell you a little bit about me and my intent here at “CognitionEducation” and I invite you to read and use and share the thoughts and perspectives I post here. In the paragraphs below I tell you a little about me and my intent with this blog. Or, if you prefer, go ahead and start clicking through my posts right away. (Note: though I’ve been blogging here at WordPress for a while – since 2012– I felt that this page needed an update, thus what you see here is a new presentation of “about me.”)

I hope you enjoy what you read, and if you feel so moved, please do leave a comment. I’d be delighted to engage with you, if you like.

[Professional Me]

“CognitionEducation” is a curious domain name, I know. I like it though because it nicely captures my professional interests. As a professor, in the business now for over a decade, my academic interests lie in the intersection between the study of human cognition and the practice of education. My academic background is in applied cognitive psychology and cognitive development (my google scholar profile shows you my more traditional scholarship listings) and my primary responsibility at work is teaching. Though I do some research, as a professor in a liberal arts college, I spend most of my time working directly with students. My intent with this blog-site is to model some of what I expect my students to do, that is, to engage in the practice of giving psychology away.

As I see it, my job as a professor is not just to act as the intermediary between students and the knowledge they are supposed to acquire, but rather to create opportunities for my students to become better people and better citizens because of the knowledge they are working to internalize. While some lecturing happens in my classes, I also encourage deeper considerations in discussions designed to help students learn to engage in the scholarship of integration or the practice of taking basic science findings and considering, in real human contexts, what the findings mean. Assignments and essay prompts in all my classes require careful and accurate application. I challenge my students to work in the spirit of George Miller, a “giant” in the history of psychology who called upon his colleagues to “give psychology away” for the betterment of human welfare (i.e., something I discussed a bit here in a 2013 post, reflecting my thoughts on the matter as I applied for full prof, and that was later also discussed by the Association for Psychological Science here). Assignments and final exams for my classes often take the form of an “open letter” penned to political representatives, to expecting parents, to incoming college freshman, to clinicians, teachers, and other appropriate stakeholders, though these are letters packed with facts more than opinions or sentiments. If not a letter, I may ask students to plan a continuing education seminar, write a public service announcement, or redesign a “first year” program for incoming college freshman.

Assignments vary from year to year, but the intent remains the same: knowledge is only meaningful if we use it well and share it wisely, so that’s the test: how well students can use what they are learning.

[Personal Me]

I am a parent too (my daughter just turned 9 a couple of weeks ago), and a wife, a sister, an aunt, a daughter and a friend. In life I really try to be a decent human being and I feel like Psychology has a lot to offer in that regard. So I use my knowledge in my life too, and do my best to take to heart my own advice. Said another way, I try these recommendations at home! My academic interests blend nicely with my life interests, and my desire to be the best version of myself that I can drives what I read and write about here.

Work and life are pretty consuming most days, but I do have some hobbies too: reading fiction (fantastical stories of urban fantasy are so fun! I periodically review what I read on Goodreads — feel free to find me there if you like), baking delicious treats to share with friends and family, practicing yoga, and enjoying the majestic natural beauty of the region I live in keep my life full and engaged.

Though I love what I do (most days, anyway) I sometimes day-dream about doing something else with my life. But for now, life is good, work is meaningful, and all is well. And that’s me in a nutshell. Happy reading to you!

Most sincerely,

Erica Kleinknecht O’Shea (aka, Dr. Kleinknecht, or Prof. K for short)


    • Thank you, Jonathon. Children learn much through conversation and interaction in culture- in the vein, the work of Katherine Nelson, Robyn Fivush, and Patricia Bauer are must-reads. With your background in Vygotskian theory, you will find the process described quite intriguing.

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