Madeleine Keehner, PhD
Principal Scientist and Chief Consultant, Brighter Research

Madeleine Keehner is a research consultant with expertise in cognitive psychology, learning science, and assessment science. She has a Ph.D. in Experimental Cognitive Psychology from the University of Bristol, UK, with a focus on visual-spatial working memory and higher-order reasoning and information processing. She held postdoctoral positions in the Dept. of Surgery, University of California San Francisco, and the Dept. of Psychology, University of California Santa Barbara, where she studied mental spatial reasoning in surgery, medicine, dentistry, and medical education. In her previous role as Director of Cognitive and Learning Sciences at Educational Testing Service, she led research projects on a range of topics in learning and assessment, including creating frameworks for assessment, validating measurement constructs, designing interactive simulations for learning, designing digital assessment items, and drawing valid inferences from log data. In her current role as a research consultant, she works with companies in the technology space, including medical XR, applying a wide array of methods to address client research questions about user experience, user expectations, cognitive processes, human factors, performance, validity, learning, and assessment. Her mixed-methods research includes empirical lab-based studies, ethnographic and field studies, quantitative surveys, and in-depth qualitative interviews. Her consulting expertise spans cognitive and learning processes in medicine, human factors, education and learning science, validity, assessment, and measurement science. She has more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations spanning topics such as laparoscopic surgery (effects of spatial reasoning ability on performance; individual differences in learning curves for laparoscopic skills in desktop VR; effects of task difficulty on performance; integration of visual and haptic information); cardiac surgical skills (measures of spatial reasoning as predictors of simulated needle placement); dentistry (individual differences in reasoning about internal shapes and structures; interpretation of cross-sections; effects of anatomy knowledge/mental models on spatial reasoning); education and assessment (developing cognitive models of target constructs to support valid measurement; design of simulations, assessment tasks, evidence models, scoring models, assessment frameworks and reporting structures for learning and measurement of skills and knowledge).