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Visiting Scholar to Talk About Reasoning, Comprehension in Children

Posted: September 15, 2010

9/15/2010 An expert in the study of the thought processes of infants and young children will visit Wilson College in early October as part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program.
DATE: Sept. 15, 2010
CONTACT: Amy Ensley, Director of the Hankey Center for the Education and Advancement of Women
Phone: 717-264-4141, Ext. 3279

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – An expert in the study of the thought processes of infants and young children will visit Wilson College in early October as part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program.

A highlight of Dr. Rochel Gelman’s visit will be a lecture, which is free and open to the public, on Monday, Oct. 4, entitled “Early Cognitive Development and Beyond.” The talk will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology.

“Her research has shown that infants possess an innate understanding of numbers and science concepts,” said Amy Ensley, director of Wilson’s Hankey Center for the Education and Advancement of Women. “In her lecture, she will discuss how - despite the early signs of understanding - older students seem to struggle with these subjects.”

The lecture should be of interest to anyone who is curious about how the mind works and how children develop cognitively, such as parents, teachers and high school students who are interested in psychology, according to Ensley.

Gelman will visit Wilson Monday through Wednesday, Oct. 4 to 6. While on campus, she will meet with students, faculty and staff in a variety of settings, sharing meals, lecturing in regularly scheduled classes, taking part in a panel discussion and informal talks.

Gelman is co-director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Rutgers University, where she is also a professor of psychology. She previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Early in her career, Gelman decided to focus on finding ways to show that preschoolers and even infants were conceptually more competent than assumed by existing theories. Her work on early cognitive development and learning has brought her many honors, including membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association; was named a William James Fellow by the Association for Psychological Science; and received the Lifetime Contribution to the Study of Child Development award from the Society for Research in Child Development.

Gelman has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree and doctorate from UCLA. She is the author of Preschool Pathways to Science, The Child’s Understanding of Number, and the article “Language and the Origin of Numerical Concepts” in Science magazine, as well as of articles on both math and science education in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly. In addition, she has developed a Science-into-ESL (English as a Second Language) program and preschool exhibits at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.

The Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program makes available about a dozen distinguished scholars each year, who visit colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. They spend two days on each campus, meeting informally with students and faculty members, taking part in classroom discussions and giving a public lecture open to the entire community. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by making possible an exchange of ideas between the visiting scholars and the resident faculty and students.

The Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program has sent 577 Scholars on 4,784 two-day visits since it was established in 1956.

For more information, contact Amy Ensley at 717-264-4141, Ext. 3279, or


Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a liberal arts college dedicated to the education of women. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Chambersburg, Pa. Wilson offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 areas and a master’s degree in education. The college’s 2009-10 enrollment in both the College for Women and the Adult Degree Programs was 838 and included students from 20 states and 18 foreign countries.

Wilson College Mission Statement

Wilson is an independent college with a proud history of educating women since 1869 through rigorous study of the liberal arts and sciences. Today, Wilson’s mission also includes women and men enrolled in adult degree and graduate programs. Guided by the Honor Principle and distinguished by its commitment to transformative student growth, Wilson College prepares all of its graduates for fulfilling lives and professions, ethical leadership, and humane stewardship of our communities and our world.

Last Updated: June 30, 2011