Department of Educational Psychology
Chris Lawson teaches courses in educational psychology, human development through childhood, and cognitive psychology. His research focuses on cognitive development from infancy to early childhood. A primary goal of his work is to shed light on an issue that is central to understanding learning: How do people generalize information they learn in one context (e.g., classroom) to new contexts (e.g., home, work)? Lawson’s work attempts to answer this question by exploring the cognitive, developmental, and social factors that support generalization.
Lawson received a BS in Psychology from Northeastern University, and earned MA and Ph.D. degrees in educational psychology from University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.
Lawson is presently interested in the acquisition of basic rules of reasoning. Philosophers of science often describe the benefits of using large and diverse samples of evidence to test hypotheses. Psychological research indicates that adults obey the sample size and diversity principles of reasoning, such that they prefer to generalize when they are given large and diverse (rather than small and homogenous) sets of examples. Current projects being conducted by Lawson’s research group examine when children develop these principles of generalization, and whether certain pedagogical approaches or educational contexts are more or less likely to support the effective use of these reasoning strategies.