John R. Kirby, PhD
Cognitive Studies
Faculty of Education
Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6

Tel: 613-533-6000
Extension 77231


Research Grants

Professional Activities

Academic Biography

John Kirby earned an Honours degree in Psychology at McGill University (1972) and a PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta (1976). He taught in Australia for eleven years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Newcastle. In 1987 he returned to Canada to Queen's University where he is a Professor of Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education, cross-appointed to the Department of Psychology, and a member of the Centre for Neuroscience Studies. He is a member of the Cognitive Studies group and a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

Teaching and Administration

John teaches in the Educational Psychology/Cognitive Studies area. At the graduate level, his courses include Cognitive Studies, Psychological Foundations of Learning, Psychology of Reading and Psychology of Learning Disabilities, as well as Quantitative Research Methods. John advises and supervises students at both the Master's and Doctoral levels. His students have a strong record of completion and success, and have won thesis prizes. At the undergraduate level he teaches Psychological Processes of Reading, and Psychology of Learning Problems.

In the Faculty of Education, John has served as Chair of Faculty Board, Coordinator of Graduate Studies and Research, Coordinator of the Educational Psychology/Cognitive Studies group, and Coordinator of the Literacy Centre. He is a former President of the Canadian Association for Education Psychology.

Research Interests

John's research concerns the applications of cognitive psychology to educational issues and has three major thrusts:

  • Cognitive processes underlying successful reading. Processes such as phonological awareness, naming speed, orthographic processing, and morphological awareness are examined in learning to read. Other research concerns reading to learn, addressing comprehension processes and instructional conditions. This research has been supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and has involved numerous graduate students.

  • Conceptions of learning. This research explores students' and workers' understanding of learning, for instance with regard to deep and surface learning, lifelong learning, and self-regulated learning, and the effects these conceptions have on the quality of learning in school and the workplace. Current topics include continuing professional education, and the use of information technology in learning.

  • Spatial cognition. This research investigates how students learn to use and think about maps, graphs and three-dimensional visual displays.

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Last modified July 21, 2011