Daniel T. Willingham

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Daniel T. Willingham
Born 1961 (age 55–56)
Residence Charlottesville, VA
Citizenship USA
Nationality USA
Fields Cognitive psychology
Institutions University of Virginia
Alma mater Harvard University (PhD), Duke University (BA)

Daniel T. Willingham (born 1961) is a psychologist at the University of Virginia, where he is a professor in the Department of Psychology. Willingham's research focuses on the application of findings from cognitive psychology and neuroscience to K-12 education.

Willingham earned his B.A. from Duke University and his Ph.D. under William Kaye Estes and Stephen Kosslyn in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University. During the 1990s and into the early 2000s his research focused on the brain mechanisms supporting learning, the question of whether different forms of memory are independent of one another and how these hypothetical systems might interact.

Since 2002 Willingham has written the "Ask the Cognitive Scientist" column for the American Educator published by the American Federation of Teachers. In 2009 he published Why Don't Students Like School which received positive coverage in the Wall Street Journal[1] and Washington Post.[2]

Willingham is known as a proponent of the use of scientific knowledge in classroom teaching and in education policy. He has sharply criticized learning styles theories as unsupported [3] and has cautioned against the empty application of neuroscience in education [4] He has advocated for teaching students scientifically proven study habits,[5][6] and for a greater focus on the importance of knowledge in driving reading comprehension.[7]


  • Cognition: The Thinking Animal (3 editions: 2001, 2004, 2007: Prentice Hall)
  • Current Directions in Cognitive Science (Ed., with Barbara Spellman: 2004: Prentice Hall)
  • Why Don't Students Like School? (2009: Jossey-Bass)
  • When Can You Trust the Experts? (2012: Jossey-Bass)



  1. ^ Chabris, Chris (April 27, 2009). "How to Wake Up Slumbering Minds". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  2. ^ Matthews, Jay (April 11, 2008). "The Thinking Behind Critical Thinking Courses". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  3. ^ Neighmond, Patti (August 29, 2011). "Think You're An Auditory or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It's Unlikely". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  4. ^ Higgins, John (July 11, 2012). "Teachers Learn Ways to Keep Students' Attention, But Are Brain Claims Valid?". Akron Beacon. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  5. ^ Carey, Benedict (May 12, 2011). "Less Talk, More Action: Improving Science Learning". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  6. ^ Belluck, Pam (January 20, 2011). "To Really Learn, Stop Studying and Take a Test". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  7. ^ Hirsch, E.D.; Pondiscio, R. (June 13, 2010). "There's No Such Thing as a Reading Test". The American Prospect.