For many people, the desire to perform their best in academics is high. Consequences for poor performance, especially in exams, include poor evaluations by mentors, teachers, and peers and lost educational opportunities. But, why do poor performances occur in those very situations where students are set on doing their best? What cognitive and neural processes drive less-than-optimal outcomes when the pressure is high? And, why do some people thrive while others fail in high-stakes situations? Sian Beilock will discuss behavioral and brain imaging work examining how students’ knowledge and general cognitive abilities interact with social and emotional factors (e.g., a student’s fear of test taking) to impact performance across a range of academic areas. She will also highlight how current research in psychology and neuroscience can be used to enhance learning and performance in the classroom.
Sian Leah Beilock became the 8th President of Barnard College at Columbia University in July, 2017. Prior to her appointment as President, Beilock spent twelve years at the University of Chicago. As the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology and a member of the Committee on Education, she specialized in how children and adults learn and perform at their best, especially under stress. In her role as a member of the senior leadership, she served as the Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives, and as the Executive Vice Provost and an Officer of the University.
President Beilock won the 2017 Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychological Association, and a member of the National Academy of Kinesiology. Early in her career, she received awards from the Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Foundation, the Psychonomic Society, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists. President Beilock is the author of two books that have been published in more than a dozen languages—the critically acclaimed Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To (2010) and How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel (2015).