Ask A Researcher #3 – Dr. Joe Kim

There is a gap between those researching practices in education and those implementing that research (teachers). This gap doesn’t really serve anyone and only adds to the disconnect between researchers and classroom teachers. Both ‘sides’ would greatly benefit from listening to the other. A teacher is a veritable treasure trove of expertise. Why would those conducting experiments to better education not want that important experience to drive and shape their research? A researcher’s knowledge of proper experimentation and understanding of outcomes could only stand to benefit the classroom teacher. 

This series (Ask A Researcher) is my attempt to close that gap a bit. By providing an opportunity to know a little more about those conducting the research, I hope teachers may feel a little more at ease with reading research articles and writing to those conducting the research…asking questions, seeking clarification, providing assistance. This obvious partnership could really improve both research/experimentation, classroom instruction, and education, overall. 

Dr. Joe Kim is an Associate Professor in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University and is actively involved in the science of teaching and learning.  He co-ordinates the innovative McMaster Introductory Psychology ( program which combines traditional lectures with interactive online resources and small group tutorials.  The program has been prominently featured in Maclean’s, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and numerous education media outlets. 
He directs the Education & Cognition Lab which aims to understand how cognitive principles such as attention, memory and learning can be applied to develop evidence-based interventions in education and training. He also organizes the annual McMaster Conference on Education & Cognition ( which brings together cognitive scientists, educators and policy makers to explore how cognitive science can be applied to educational policy and instructional design.  
With an active interest in curriculum and education, he is regularly invited to deliver keynotes and workshops on blended learning, applied cognition in teaching and training, presentation design, and productivity. He also regularly consults on curriculum development for universities and several policy groups including the Council of Ontario Universities Online workgroup, the Innovation and Productivity Roundtable for the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Recent honours include: D2L Innovation in Teaching and Learning Award, Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2017), Residence Life Campus Partner of the Year (2012), Innovator of the Year Award (McMaster VPR, 2010), President’s Award for Excellence in Course and Resource Design (2010). 
In his spare time, he balances work and life.
Follow him on twitter @ProfJoeKim.

Without further ado, let’s ask a researcher:

1. What is the focus of your research?

I direct the Education & Cognition Lab at McMaster University  We are interested in applying our understanding of how the mind works (attention, memory, learning) to improve education and training.

2. What are you currently working on?

The given context of the pandemic has pivoted our lab to understanding how we can improve online learning.  Some areas we are exploring: collaborative testing, online engagement, motivation, and active learning in video conference platforms.

3. What work have you done that you believe most applies to the classroom?

Learning is not simply the process of absorbing information that is presented to you by a teacher.  Active learning is a process that students, teachers and peers need to buy into with planned spaces for retrieval and breaks.

4. What do teachers need to know about being a researcher as it relates to education?

Research can be a slow process and we need help from teachers.  We need to take promising principles developed in controlled lab studies to the real world of the classroom to understand how we can develop prescriptions for evidence-based teaching practices.

5. What can teachers do to work with the research community?

Teachers can actively engage with researchers! Join a research collaboration, attend a conference (come to EdCog2020 which is fully online this year, teachers get a discount of 50% off registration!).  More info at

I became aware of Dr. Kim’s work and McMaster’s EdCog Conference through twitter. I’ve always been impressed by his work and appreciated his ability to showcase the importance of cognitive psychology in education and learning.

So, what can you do? If you’re a teacher, simply write an email of gratitude or inquiry to an author. It’s that easy. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised how appreciative they are. If you’re a researcher, find classroom teachers on twitter or just email a local school. I assure you, we’d love to be included in the process.

Create the relationship. Close the gap. Improve education.

Are you a researcher interested in being featured in this series? Please feel free to contact me.

Leave a Reply

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: