My Photo


  • Email Address:


Rand J. Spiro, Ph.D., is a professor of Educational Psychology and Educational Technology at Michigan State University. Before coming to MSU, Dr. Spiro was a Distinguished Senior Scholar in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was Professor of Educational Psychology, Psychology, and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He has been a Visiting Scientist in the Psychology and Computer Science departments at Yale University, where he worked in the Yale Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and a Visiting Professor of Education at Harvard University. He was a founding member and served for a time as co-director of the national Center for the Study of Reading at Illinois. He also served as Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Spiro is the originator of Cognitive Flexibility Theory (along with collaborators Paul Feltovich & Richard Coulson) and its application to innovative approaches to hypermedia design. His research areas include knowledge acquisition in complex domains; hypermedia learning environments; new forms of learning and reading comprehension on the Web; multimedia case-based methods in professional education; biomedical cognition; and constructive processes in comprehension and recall. Much of his research is concerned with determining how learning should proceed so that tendencies toward conceptual oversimplification are counteracted and a wide range of future applications of knowledge are supported. A central focus is the development and testing of theory-based hypermedia learning environments designed to promote cognitive flexibility.

His publications include the books Schooling and the Acquisition of Knowledge; Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension; Cognition, Education, and Multimedia; and Hypertext & Cognition.

Altogether, over 100 invited presentations have been made to scholarly groups, including major invited addresses to professional societies such as the American Psychological Association (co-sponsored by the Experimental Psychology and Educational Psychology divisions), the Cognitive Science Society, the American Educational Research Association (three: one for Division C, one for Division I and one for Division K). the International Reading Association, the National Conference on Research in English (President's Invitational Address), the Semiotics Society of America, the National Reading Conference, a Director's Invitational Seminar at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, invited colloquia at universities such as Harvard, Yale, Michigan, Northwestern, Georgia, Indiana, Washington, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia Tech, New York University, Wisconsin, McGill, Lisbon, Rome, Tokyo, Canterbury (New Zealand), universities in Beijing and Shanghai, and various universities in Portugal (under the sponsorship of the Joint Luso-American Fulbright Commission), invited talks at NATO conferences in Brussels (Belgium), Leuven (Belgium), Espinho (Portugal), Crete (Greece) and Edinburgh (UK), and numerous other invited presentations around the world.

His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, various agencies within the Department of Education, the Office of Basic Research of the Army Research Institute, IBM, the Joyce Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation, among others.