Dr. Richard Catrambone is a professor in the School of Psychology. The question Catrambone likes to ask—and the thread that runs through the projects he works on alone and in collaboration with others—is: What does someone need to know in order to solve novel problems or carry out tasks within a particular domain?
Catrambone’s research interests include problem solving, analogical reasoning, educational technology, and human-computer interaction. He is particularly interested in how people learn from examples in order to solve problems in domains such as algebra, probability, and physics. He explores how to create instructional materials that help learners understand how to approach problems in a meaningful way rather than simply memorizing a set of steps that cannot easily be transferred to novel problems. Catrambone also researches the design of teaching and training materials, including software and multimedia environments, based on cognitive principles that help students learn basic tasks quickly and promote transfer to novel problems. He uses task analysis to identify what someone needs to know in order to solve problems or carry out tasks in a domain and then to use the results of the task analysis to guide the construction of teaching and training materials/environments.