Temple University Psychology professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek was recently named the winner of this year’s APS James Mckeen Cattell Fellow Award and the APA Distinguished Scientific Lecturer Award. Prestigious psychological associations give out both awards annually to a psychologist with a wealth of accomplishment in the world of psychological lecture and research.

The specific goal of the APS James Mckeen Cattell Fellow Award is to highlight a current psychologist with outstanding contributions in applied psychological research aimed at tackling relevant problems in the world. In this case, Kathy was a perfect fit. She has been exploring the process of learning in early childhood education throughout her career. By understanding how children from birth through eight years old learn about the world, she hopes to create an educational climate that can help all children thrive.

Kathy’s second accolade, the APA Distinguished Scientific Lecturer Award, is essentially given to psychologists who give really good presentations. Kathy is known for her “edible science” talks, which are very similar to the structure of TED talks. Kathy presents her research and lectures in a way that is accessible and easy to digest. She said she hopes to affect people’s lives with her research and presentations, even if they are not literate in psychological terminology.

As a follow up to the lecturer award, Kathy plans to give another presentation at the APA regional conference in October. The lecture will address the process of learning when using educational applications. The piece will also go over how to use principles of psychology and human learning to create better and more efficient educational applications.

Since joining the psychology department in 1987, Kathy has been contributing to the field in a variety of ways. She has investigated the process of earlier language and literacy in early childhood. She also took some time to examine spatial development – specifically, how children learn shapes and learn to navigate in the real world and how that translates to their ability to do early mathematics. Aside from all that, she has recently conducted extensive research in the world of play in order to illustrate how playful learning can help in education.

“It is affirming to see that the science that we work in every single day can be useful to people and that it can help us create evidence based ways that can help all children,” Kathy said.

By Joel Kaplan

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