Graduate Programs

Cognitive & Instructional Psychology

Area Contact: Dr. Katja Weimer

The Department of Psychology at Northern Illinois University offers a program of study leading to a Ph.D. degree in psychology. Within this program, graduate study in the area of cognitive psychology emphasizes both theoretical and applied aspects of cognition, training students to pursue teaching and research careers in either academic or non-academic settings.

Faculty Primary Research Interests

Research directed by active faculty is fundamental to one's development in graduate school. Students are encouraged to work with faculty members through research assistantships and independent studies. The primary research interests of the faculty include:

  • Language comprehension
  • The interaction between technology and learning
  • Argument comprehension and production
  • Knowledge representation
  • Individual differences in language comprehension (e.g., what makes a good reader different from a poor reader)
  • Non-text discourse processing (e.g., film and aesthetics).

The active grants by our faculty include:

  • A 4-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Educational Sciences to develop an on-line comprehension test
  • A 3-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Educational Sciences to develop an web-based tutor to improve students comprehension and construction of argument
  • Consulting projects with Sandia National Laboratories and Law School Admission Council.

Discourse and Technology

Psychologists believe that a better tomorrow starts with an understanding of how we interpret and understand the world today. One powerful way in which we understand the world is through discourse and technology. Discourse is conveyed through text, conversations, argumentation, films, and artwork. Each impose different types of mental constraints on comprehension and each is an important aspect of our world.

As the new millennium dawns, technology is being used more and more to deliver discourse, especially within instructional settings (e.g., interactive CD ROMS, the Internet, videos, multimedia). Our central mission is to understand discourse and its interaction with new and developing technologies, including the development of intelligent interactive computer-based tutoring systems.

CIDS (Cognitive, Instructional, Developmental and School) Curricular Area

The CIDS (cognitive, instructional, developmental, and school) curricular area offers students a multidisciplinary approach to developing minds. Our students learn to interrelate conceptual, methodological, and applied information from cognitive, developmental, and school psychology domains.

Contact Us

To find out more about Cognitive and Instructional Psychology at NIU, contact Katja Weimer at or any of the faculty whose research is of interest.