Newsletter Article

Evergreen School Speaker Series Partnership

In partnership with The Evergreen School, a preschool-8 independent school in Shoreline, the Psychology Department co-sponsored a speaker series to provide opportunities for reciprocal engagement and dialog between psychological scientists and educators. Psychology Professor Yuichi Shoda spearheaded this partnership five years ago, and we have since hosted six well-attended and thought-provoking events featuring top researchers and scholars in psychological science. A central focus of this Speaker Series is on setting the foundation for the life-long development of cognitive, social and emotional skills, and education of highly capable learners in diverse and underserved populations, building on and translating research-based knowledge into use in the classroom and beyond.

This year, Sian Beilock, Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago, presented the state of science investigating why people sometimes "choke" under pressure. She brought together brain imaging, laboratory experiments, and real-life observations to uncover just what is happening in people's minds and brains when they fail to perform at their best in situations where it matters the most (e.g., a real SAT, rather than practice SAT; golf putting and basketball free throws in front of fans). A large audience at Kane Hall, including many teachers, parents, UW students, and school administrators, was so engaged by her presentation that the Q&A session following her talk went well over 30 minutes! This presentation was followed by a workshop during which teachers recounted "choking" situations they witnessed and, along with Professor Beilock, discussed how research findings can be used to help achieve optimal performance in such situations.

The Speaker Series aims to serve as a community resource by facilitating a direct and mutually beneficial dialogue between educators, parents, and researchers. We hope it will help educators and parents better understand the science behind behavior and develop and refine strategies in light of research findings.  We also hope it will help researchers discover the factors that affect translation of research-based knowledge into practice and identify new and important questions to examine in the laboratory. We are grateful to The Evergreen School for their expertise, encouragement, and highly generous financial support, without which this Speaker Series would not have been possible.