Applied Cognition and Development
The Applied Cognition and Development Program is now accepting applications for the online program for the 2024-2025 academic year.
The Applied Cognition and Development application deadline for the M.A., Ph.D., and Ed.S. is December 1, 2023.
In applied cognition and development, faculty and students explore the effects of human cognitive and developmental processes on education. They also determine how that knowledge can be applied to teaching and learning. Our programs prepare graduates to improve education through research, to implement programs and projects in schools, and to apply research and methods to various settings.
Students study with faculty experts in topics including motivation and engagement in STEM fields, technology-enhanced learning, social-emotional learning, and early intervention.
Our faculty have received outstanding early career awards, teaching awards, and research awards and are the recipients of funding from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Spencer Foundation. They are also active in state and national organizations and have held esteemed positions including editor of the Journal of Research in Childhood Education and member of the developmental sciences advisory panel for the NSF.
Master of Education (MEd)
- MEd in Educational Psychology (Applied Cognition and Development)
Become an expert in human development, learning, and motivation, or explore gifted and creative education or quantitative methods.
Master of Arts (MA)
- MA in Educational Psychology (Applied Cognition and Development)
Become an expert in human development, learning, and motivation through our program in applied cognition and development.
Educational Specialist (EdS)
- EdS in Educational Psychology (Applied Cognition and Development)
Enhance your knowledge of how students learn, or how gifted and creative students see their world.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
- PhD in Educational Psychology (Applied Cognition and Development)
Explore cognitive processes both inside and outside of the classroom, connect real-world issues in education, or become a skilled psychologist at all levels of child development.
Faculty study interdisciplinary applications of cognitive, social, and developmental psychology to learning and education. Topics include:
- STEM motivation
- Motivational beliefs
- Learning strategies
- Multimedia math/science
- Elementary education
- Executive functioning
- Social-emotional learning
Our Graduate Students
Xiao-Yin Chen is a third-year doctoral student in the applied cognition and development program. She earned her master’s degree in educational psychology and bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on the social influences of motivation, but her greater purpose for this work is to examine ways to reduce achievement gaps for students who are minoritized in educational settings. This interest stems from her experiences growing up in Appalachia as a first-generation Chinese American. Aside from this research, she lives a minimal-waste lifestyle and can often be found on hiking trails in Athens with her two pugs, Henry and Harriet.
Shannon Clark is a third-year doctoral student in the applied cognition and development program. She is passionate about STEM education and the factors that motivate all students to persist in the sciences. She holds a bachelor’s degree in both biology and chemistry from Valdosta State University and a master’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh. She has taught science at the collegiate, high school, and middle school levels. One of her most prized possessions is a blanket of the periodic table of elements.
Jessica Downing is a first-year master’s student in the applied cognition and development program. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in organizational/industrial leadership from the University of North Georgia in 2021 and is planning on getting a doctorate in school psychology one day. She loves working with students and wants to continue to work with them in the future. She wants every student to know they are capable of succeeding academically. A fun fact about her is she loves the holidays and spending time with her kitty Oscar and pup Tootsie.
Sofia Hirt is a third-year doctoral student in the school psychology program with interests in applied cognition and development. Her work currently revolves around social-emotional and learning outcomes as well as school support for children with chronic health conditions. In her free time, she likes to go for walks with her rescue dog.
Smyth (Sexton) Moore is a third-year doctoral student in the applied cognition & development program and has loved everything she has learned and been a part of so far. She got her undergraduate degree in psychology at UGA, master’s degree in mental health counseling from The University of Mississippi, and Ed. S. in educational psychology at UGA. Her research focuses on social media and its influence on multiple areas, but specifically on mental health concerns such as body image. She is also interested in the utilization of social media in the classroom, looking at the challenges and benefits from the educator’s perspective. In her free time, she loves to do anything outdoors—scuba diving, hiking, sports—you name it! She is an avid UGA fan and looking forward to another year. GO DAWGS!!!
Erica Smolinski is a fifth-year doctoral student in school psychology, but much of her work is done in the applied cognition and development program. She received her bachelor’s degree in child psychology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2017. Her research focuses on the impact of prenatal stress on child development and family functioning, with a specific focus on marginalized communities. She is currently working on her dissertation studying the experiences of Black and White individuals during pregnancy. In her free time, she enjoys trying out new recipes and watching movies.
Yuchen Song is a first-year doctoral student in the applied cognition and development program. He received his bachelor’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of Michigan in 2016 and his master’s degree in experimental psychology from Brandeis University in 2018. He spent two years working with students before attending a doctoral program to understand how psychology can empower education. His primary research interest is to explore the psychological processes that hinder students from unleashing their full academic potentials. In his free time, he enjoys driving on scenic backroads and appreciating the beautiful Georgia landscape!
Sadona Thompson is a first-year doctoral student in the school psychology program with interests in applied cognition and development. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and human development & family studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Spring 2022. Her research interests include the social-emotional impacts of childhood trauma and collaboration between caregivers and personnel in prevention and intervention efforts. In her free time, she likes to cross stitch and watch horror movies!
Kudos to Our Graduate Students
Congratulations to our current and recent Applied Cognition and Development graduate students for their outstanding accomplishments this past year!
- Yuchen Song won the ACD Outstanding Doctoral Student Award in Spring 2022.
- Erica Smolinski won the Anti-racism Coalition (ARC) Recognition of Allyship Award in Spring 2022 and the Owen Scott Research Award in 2022.
Papers, Presentations & Research
- Yin Chen gave a first-authored paper presentation at AERA in Spring 2022.
- Yuchen Song gave a first-authored poster presentation at AERA in Spring 2022.
- Erica Smolinski gave a first-authored paper presentation at AERA in Spring 2022.
- Yuchen Song and Shannon Clark co-authored a paper with Dr. Emily Rosenzweig that was published in Learning and Instruction .
- Yuchen Song was the lead author on a paper published with Dr. Michael Barger and Dr. Kristen Bub that came out in Frontiers in Education .
- Congratulations to online M.Ed. students Sam Barilla and Justin Lee for their work with research faculty.
- Aileen Taylor Grant, Ph.D. (2021) is now the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at San Diego State University.
- Qian Zhang, Ph.D. (2022) is currently a Data Scientist at the ETS AI Labs.