Associate Professor of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education
College of Education
David Therriault’s research focuses on Cognitive Psychology, a discipline which emphasizes the empirical study of mental processes that underpin learning.
Therriault’s primary research interests include the representation of text in memory, comprehending time and space in language, the link between attention and intelligence, the use of perceptual symbols in language, problem solving in engineering, and educational issues related to these topics.
Therriault’s main area of research explores reading comprehension, or how we understand and remember what we read. Reading is arguably one of the most complex cognitive tasks in which we engage on a daily basis, and is a critical skill to develop in our students. Therriault has authored eighteen refereed journal articles or invited book chapters on reading comprehension. Additionally, he is developing a kindergarten-level reading disabilities screening battery, the Kindergarten Cognitive and Reading Assessment Tool for iPad (K-CRATI). The ultimate purpose of the K-CRATI is to provide educators with a tool that can effectively catch at-risk students early in their elementary schooling.
Another area of Therriault’s research explores working memory, or our ability to focus attention while ignoring irrelevant distracters, in problem solving. With NSF funding, Therriault is examining how students solve open-ended materials engineering problems. This research is interdisciplinary in nature. His efforts with members of the engineering faculty provide evidence of how two seeming disparate disciplines can find mutual benefit in such inquiry.