University of Texas
Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, University of Texas
M.A. in Developmental and Communication Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore,
B.A. in Economics, University of Colorado
B.A. in Psychology, minor in Philosophy, University of Colorado
Teaching since 1997
Strong background in art, evolution, cognitive science, language and culture, culture and cognition, research methods in psychology, general psychology, cognitive psychology, and scientific communication in psychology. Within the study abroad environment, John Dennis’ desire is to give students an understanding of how theories, models, and research can relate to their study abroad experience by demonstrating that the human motivation system is informed and transformed by one’s culture.
John’s primary goal in teaching is to help students develop the analytical skills required for understanding, practicing, and benefiting from scientific research. The ability to critically evaluate the assumptions and implications of research is a critical skill within psychology and other fields. In order to master this skill, it is important for students to understand psychology as a process rather than a result.
So many students enter University with a view of science as established fact and of education as memorizing those facts. In John’s courses, he balances discussion of what is known with the exploration of how it is known. Rather than explaining individual theories of a given domain, he aims to present competing theories. He emphasizes the motivations, assumptions, and predictions of a theory, as well as its relationship to data, both in terms of the findings that support it and in terms of the ways it could be tested or disproved. The goal is to help students understand the fundamental role of theory in organizing our knowledge and directing further research, and to give them the skills to evaluate the evidence that support those theories.