|William F. Brewer|
Department of Psychology
University of Illinois
603 East Daniel St.
Champaign, IL 61820
U. S. A.
Phone: (217) 333-1548|
(has answering machine)
Fax: (217) 244-5876
Office: 629 Psychology Bld
Brief descriptions of my programs of research in these areas along with a few selected publications are given below.
A more complete set of references organized by topic may be
found in Selected Publications by Topic
and a complete chronological list of publications can be found in
I. Knowledge Representation
My work in the area of knowledge representation has focused on the study of complex forms of representation. I have, over the years, carried out a broad program of theoretical and empirical work on the nature of these complex forms of representation and the differences between generic knowledge structures such as schemas and knowledge structures that are not precompiled such as mental models.
II. Structure of Discourse
One of the major trends of research on language in the last decade has been an extension of the initial work on words and syntax to include the complex issues of discourse and language use. My work in this area has been directed at these higher-order discourse phenomena and, in particular, on the nature of stories. Much of this research was carried out with Ed Lichtenstein. This program of research has involved theory development, empirical studies of adults and children, and cross-cultural work.
Two of the major trends in memory research over the last decade have been the investigation of the impact of knowledge on the memory process and the widening of the forms of memory that are studied. In this area I have carried out work on: (a) the interactions of memory and knowledge, (b) research on autobiographical memory, and (c) research on the phenomenal experiences that are involved in carrying out various forms of memory tasks.
IV. Knowledge Acquisition
The initial focus of research in cognitive psychology and cognitive science was on the issue of knowledge representation with little concern about how the knowledge was acquired. In the last few years I have spent a considerable part of my time and energy in attempting to rethink the traditional issues of learning in terms of the general issue of how new knowledge is acquired. This line of research can be thought of as the cognitive embodiment of traditional learning theory. In particular my work has focused on the issue of large scale conceptual change in children's acquisition of knowledge in the area of observational astronomy (much of this work was carried out with Stella Vosniadou).
V. Psychology of Science
My most recent line of research is the study of the psychology of the scientist. I initiated this new project because I think that the area of cognitive psychology has matured to the point where it is possible to apply theory and data from cognitive psychology to understand various issues in the study of science, e.g., psychological responses to anomalous data (much of this work has been carried out with Clark Chinn), distortions in scientific texts, claims made by philosophers about the theory-laden nature of observation, etc.
Psychology 321: Human Memory
(advanced undergraduate course)
Advanced treatment of human memory. Examines basic theory and methodology; types of memory; semantic, episodic, procedural, memory for language, places, and events; knowledge and memory; autobiographical memory; exceptional memory; mnemonics.
Psychology 421: Knowledge Representation
(graduate survey course)
Surveys theories and data about the representation of knowledge by human beings; examines images, concepts, semantic features, propositions, semantic nets, rules, parallel distributed models, procedural representations, schemas, mental models, and theories.
Psychology 493B: Cognitive Proseminar
(course for first year cognitive graduate students)
This course is designed to acquaint first year students in the Cognitive Division with the faculty and to provide a survey of professional issues. It typically covers issues such as: Univ. & Dept. Requirements; Societies & Journals; Sociology of Academic Life (Grad Student; Academic Ranks, Tenure); Journal Review Process; Journal Reviewing; Professional Writing; Attending Scientific Meetings; Meetings (Presenting Papers; Presenting Posters); Library--Paper & Electronic Tools; Professional Use of the Web; Teaching; Phil. of Sci--Data/Theory; Gender Issues in Academia; Ethics--(Data Selection; Authorship); Vita Writing; Types of Jobs (Post Doc; Research; Teaching; NonAcademic); Job Search; Job Talk; Grantsmanship.
In addition to the courses I teach on a regular basis I frequently teach graduate seminars on topics of current interest. Some recent examples: