Katherine Binder

Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship

In a series of Mount Holyoke alumnae stories, when asked her favorite class, professor, and the reason why, Ana Shreck, class of 2009 responded, “Kathy Binder in the Psychology Department taught me the wonders of how people perceive the world. She reassured me that, whatever I chose to do upon graduation, it would be just one path of many great ones”. Another graduate effused similar praise for experience in Kathy’s classroom, stating, “She’s also incredibly supportive and helps to educate the next generation in the psychology field, making [us] great, competent researchers…”, with multiple emphases on the word “passion.” Mount Holyoke’s students are frequent participants in Kathy’s research, which bears out a rare and valuable trait in her professional approach: there is no real division between scholarship and the classroom. Consequently she manages to achieve a unique balance of excellence in both teaching and research in which her work informs and inspires her students, and her students participate in and help to facilitate her studies.

To be more specific, Kathy simultaneously devotes an inordinate amount of energy and diligence to her classroom, advising and mentoring interactions with a large number of students, as well as to her multi-faceted scholarship, with successful and inspirational results in both areas; this speaks to her talent, intellect, dedication, and brilliant humanism, as well as to what one can only assume to be a tireless herculean work ethic. It is with this award that we celebrate Kathy’s research accomplishments; but her superior work, in and outside of the classroom, certainly blurs the distinction between the two, and also broadens the very definition of science and research.   

Her enormous record of publications includes numerous co-authored essays and articles appearing in peer-reviewed periodicals including the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, the Journal of Learning Disabilities, and the Psychonomic Review and Bulletin among many, many others. These investigations have been richly supported through grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health (an Academic Research Enhancement grant awarded in 2010 and renewed in 2014) and, more recently as co-Principal Investigator, an Institute of Education Sciences grant. 

Frequently based in controlled studies of eye movement and phonology, Kathy applies this empirical evidence to a wide range of social sciences, particularly cognition but also education, virtual environments, linguistics, and disability studies among others. As an example, in her recently IES-funded project with Scott Ardoin, the authors seek “to better understand the test-taking behavior of 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade students” through a series of tests on reading comprehension (“Examining the Processes and Outcomes of Reading Comprehension [EXPO-RC], Ardoin and Binder, 2017). Her foci fly in the face of perceived notions of arcane ivory tower disciplines by applying rigorous scientific methods to “real-world” issues such as childhood and adult literacy, the assessment of students in community-based learning programs, and, early in her career, the effects of aging.

These are a minute subset of the innumerable qualities, attributes, and accomplishments for which it is the Mount Holyoke College community’s great fortune to call Kathy Binder a mentor, advisor, professor, colleague, and friend. For all of the above, and so very much more, the College takes enormous pleasure in presenting her with the Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship.