Pooja K. Agarwal

Assistant Professor
Affiliated Departments
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Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D. (she/her) is a cognitive scientist, conducting research on how students learn since 2005. She is the author of the book Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning and an assistant professor at Berklee, teaching psychological science to exceptional undergraduate musicians. Dr. Agarwal is also the founder of Retrieval Practice, a source of free research-based teaching strategies for more than 25,000 teachers around the world.

Dr. Agarwal’s research has been published in leading academic journals; featured in the New York Times, Education Week, Scientific American, and NPR; recognized by the National Science Foundation; and highlighted in numerous books, podcasts, and videos.

Dr. Agarwal’s love of learning formed at the outset of her career as a fourth- and fifth- grade teacher in St. Louis, Missouri. She serves as a consultant and facilitates professional development workshops on the science of learning around the world.

Career Highlights
  • Author, Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning (2019, Wiley/Jossey-Bass)
  • Publishes research articles in academic journals, including Applied Cognitive Psychology, Educational Psychology Review, and Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
  • Served as a keynote speaker at SXSW EDU in 2022
  • Berklee College of Music Inclusive Teaching and Learning Grant
  • Berklee College of Music PED Dean's Award for Creative Scholarship and Professional Contributions
  • Association for Psychological Science (APS) Rising Star Award
  • American Psychological Association (APA) Graduate Student Researcher Award
  • Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy (IMSA) Alumni Titan Award
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship
  • Harry S. Truman Foundation Scholarship
  • Ph.D., Washington University, cognitive psychology (2011)
  • M.A., Washington University, cognitive psychology (2009)
  • B.A., Washington University, cognitive neuroscience (2005)
  • Elementary Education Teaching Certification (2005)
In Their Own Words

“I aim to transform education via evidence-based learning strategies and methods. As a scientist, I apply my expertise when translating cognitive science for educators, students, and the public. As a former K–12 teacher, I am familiar with the challenges that educators face, and accordingly, I strive to provide classroom recommendations that are practical and straightforward. Lastly, as a policy maker, I am mindful of the complexities that shape curricula, evaluation, classrooms, districts, states, and higher education.”

“Learning is successful when students are inspired to apply their knowledge gained from inside the classroom to their lives outside the classroom. Without this bridge from school to life, learning remains dormant and meaningless.”

“I am passionate about harnessing the science of learning to improve education. My research as a cognitive scientist informs my teaching and my teaching experiences inform my research. Although surprising to many of us, the science of learning exists. As educators dedicated to fostering learning, now is the time to unleash it.”