Keynote Speaker & Workshop Presenter

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Dr. Pooja K. Agarwal ~ The Science of Learning

Dr. Pooja Agarwal photo Small Learning book photo Make It Stick book photo Cognitive Scientist, Teacher, and Education Consultant

Keynote: Make it Stick: Harnessing the Science of Learning and Transforming Teaching
There is a lot to learn in the world. Students can’t learn everything, and educators can’t teach everything. Especially not over, and over, and over again each time students forget. What can we do to improve learning and reduce forgetting? How can we use our limited amount of classroom time and make learning stick? Based on a wealth of research, cognitive scientists have established robust techniques that dramatically improve student learning. In particular, when classroom activities are challenging for students, long-term learning substantially increases. Through the application of powerful evidence-based strategies, we can harness the science of learning, transform teaching, and advance learning in our classrooms.

Workshop I: Key Discoveries from Cognitive Science That Challenge Our Perceptions of Learning
Go behind the scenes and learn about key discoveries from cognitive science research. Based on more than 100 years of investigation, cognitive scientists have established powerful strategies that substantially improve learning for diverse age groups, subject areas, and education rigor. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about landmark studies in the science of learning, as well as research findings that challenge our perceptions of student learning.

Workshop II: Unleash the Science of Learning: Powerful Teaching Strategies for the Classroom
How can we apply the science of learning in our teaching? Evidence-based classroom activities that improve student learning, including retrieval practice, distributed practice, and metacognition, are powerful and easy to implement. Attendees will have the opportunity to examine their current teaching approaches and incorporate these evidence-based recommendations in short-term and long-term course planning.

Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D. is committed to bridging the gaps between research, teaching, and policy. Passionate about evidence-based education, Pooja has conducted learning and memory research in a variety of classroom settings for more than 10 years. In addition to her career as a scientist, Pooja has extensive K-12 teaching experience and currently teaches at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. To advance the use of scientifically-based learning strategies, she contributes her expertise through collaborations with students, educators, scientists, and policymakers worldwide. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Education Week, and Scientific American, in addition to books and podcasts. For more information, visit


Ten years ago, as a pre-service elementary teacher and college student, I continuously labored in vain. Why did I, and my students, forget information so quickly? Why is student achievement stagnant? How can we fix a broken system? Can we fix a broken system?

In a college course, I had my first encounter with scientific research on human learning and memory. I had no idea such a thing existed. Nearly instantaneously, as I sat in the lecture hall, my frustration about the dismal state of education and my fascination about the science of learning collided. From this single experience, I was determined to explore and understand how learning works, while building connections between educators and scientists to strengthen evidence-based education.

Now, more than a decade later, I am continuing my mission to examine how learning works, apply it in the real world, and transform education. My current initiatives include disseminating research about retrieval practice, publishing findings from cognitive science, facilitating professional development workshops, and collaborating with numerous organizations worldwide.

For more information, click here to view my CV or click here to visit my website. And please don't hesitate to get in touch via Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.


Learning in the laboratory, the classroom, and the world.

Throughout my career, I have pursued diverse experiences: as an academic researcher, as an elementary school teacher, and also as an education policy maker. At the outset of my career, I was certain that in order to effectively bring these groups together to address critical challenges in education, it would be vital to gain firsthand understanding of these perspectives. In other words, I wanted to “walk the walk” before I “talked the talk.”

With a unique combination of talents, I aim to transform education via evidence-based learning strategies and methods. As a scientist, I apply my expertise when translating cognitive science for educators, students, and the public. As a former K-12 teacher, I am familiar with the challenges that educators face, and accordingly, I strive to provide classroom recommendations that are practical and straightforward. Finally, as a policy maker, I am mindful of the complexities that shape curricula, evaluation, classrooms, districts, states, and higher education.

Most recently, I founded, a "hub" of resources for educators (K-12 and higher ed) and a broad audience about retrieval practice: a powerful evidence-based tool for improving learning. I encourage you to visit, subscribe for updates, and contact me with your thoughts and feedback.

Here are a few highlights about my professional experience:

Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis
Conducted more than 10 years of cognitive science and retrieval practice research in K-12 classrooms
Certified as an elementary school teacher, with teaching experience in K-12 and higher education
Policy experience at the U.S. Department of Education and the Illinois State Board of Education


A powerful strategy to improve learning.

Education is in dire need of transformation. For years, parents, students, educators, and politicians have asked, “Why is our education system ineffective?” Instead, I urge you to ask a different question: “Why do we still use a system that has been shown to be ineffective?”

Simultaneously, for more than 100 years, cognitive scientists have established robust teaching strategies that dramatically improve learning. One of the most powerful evidence-based tools is retrieval practice. When teachers emphasize pulling information “out” from students’ minds (e.g., asking students to retrieve information on a quiz), long-term learning is dramatically improved. On the other hand, when teachers emphasize getting information “in” to students’ minds (e.g., lecturing or rereading textbook chapters), learning fades rapidly. Recent advances in retrieval practice research confirm that this powerful strategy improves long-term learning in authentic educational settings, including K-12 classrooms, undergraduate courses, and medical education programs. is a growing online “hub” of empirical findings, practical tips, and specific tools and guides for implementing retrieval practice in classrooms. With these resources, educators in K-12 and higher education can harness the power of retrieval practice to transform and dramatically improve learning.

For more information about this resource, and to download a free guide about retrieval practice, please visit


Support for the science of learning.

From early historians to modern elected officials, people have demanded that the science of learning be applied to education. Recent research on learning has intensified, but dissemination is slow. By “giving research away,” scientists can increase public understanding of effective educational strategies based on scientific evidence and data.

Fortunately, findings from the science of learning are making their way into schools, universities, and households. I am honored that my research on retrieval practice, conducted in collaboration with colleagues around the world, has been featured in the popular press, recent books, and podcasts.

In addition, numerous organizations have generously supported my research in cognitive science. I greatly appreciate their contributions and commitment to improving education via evidence-based strategies. My research would not have been possible otherwise.

For more information about my where my research can be found, please visit:

Contact Us For More Information

Keynote Chair: Tim Jurkovac ~~ Email:

We hope to see you at the 23rd Annual AURCO Conference
Saturday Conference: April 8, 2017
Friday Reception & IGNITE Talks: April 7, 2017
BGSU Firelands, Huron, OH