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Sara Davis


Faculty Bio


Assistant Professor

Office: Building 51, Room 3108



Research Interests

I am interested in applying the study of human memory to two applied domains: student learning in educational contexts and eyewitness memory.  I look for answers to questions like "What strategies are best for learning from lectures?," "What factors influence an eyewitness' memory for an event or a face?," and "How does interaction with technology influence the way we remember events?"  


Areas of Expertise

 Cognition, Eyewitness Memory, Memory and Education, Memory Processes




Selected Publications


Geller, J., Davis, S.D., & Peterson, D.J. (2020). Sans forgetica is not desirable for learning. Memory. 

Davis, S.D., Peterson, D.J., Wissman, K.T., & Slater, W.A. (2019).  Physiological stress and face recognition: Differential effects of stress on accuracy and the confidence—accuracy relationship.  Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

Chan., J.C.K, Meissner, C.A, & Davis, S.D. (2018). Retrieval potentiates new learning: A theoretical and meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin.

Chan, J.C.K., Manley, K.D., Davis, S.D., and Szpunar, K.K. (2018). Testing potentiates new learning across a retention interval and a lag: A strategy change perspective. Journal of Memory and Language.

Davis, S.D., & Chan, J.C.K., & Wilford, M.M. (2017).  The dark side of interleaving: how does testing impair or enhance new learning? Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 6, 444-431.

Davis, S.D., & Chan, J.C.K. (2015). Studying on borrowed time: How does testing impair new learning? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 41, 1841-1854.

Chan, J.C.K., Erdman, M.R., & Davis, S.D. (2015). Testing produces retrieval-induced forgetting, but only when nontested items compete for retrieval: Implications for the competition dependence assumption of inhibition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41, 1298-1315.


Short Biography 

I am an experimental cognitive psychologist, and throughout my career I have focused on applying a strong theoretical framework to applied domains.  In particular, my work has focused on how memory functions in both forensic and educational contexts.


First, I am interested in factors that influence the accuracy of eyewitnesses.  When an individual witnesses a crime, they may be required to answer questions or identify an individual out of a lineup.  I am most interested in what factors might increase or decrease the accuracy of eyewitnesses, and what evidence investigators can use to determine whether an eyewitness is more or less likely to be accurate.  


In the field of education, I am interested in the way that retrieval practice (e.g., testing, quizzing) might enhance memory.   We know that taking tests can enhance memory for tested material.  However, tests can also enhance learning that occurs after the test.  I am currently investigating factors that might influence this beneficial effect, including dosage (e.g., how much information is tested), frequency (e.g., how often should one test), and quality (e.g., what types of tests are most helpful).  





Post-doctoral fellow, Skidmore College, 2018-2020


Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2018, Cognitive Psychology


M.S., Montana State University, 2011, Psychological Science


B.S., Montana State University, 2009, Psychology