International seed grant sprouts research and cultural exchange

Professor Ken Kiewra and doctoral students Linlin Luo and Abe Flanigan
Professor Ken Kiewra and doctoral students Linlin Luo and Abe Flanigan conducted research in Germany through a CEHS International Seed Grant.

International seed grant sprouts research and cultural exchange

18 Aug 2017     By Brad Stauffer

Educational Psychology professor Ken Kiewra and doctoral students Linlin Luo and Abe Flanigan shared their research internationally this summer thanks to a CEHS international seed grant and additional financial support from the Department of Educational Psychology. Traveling to Freiburg, Germany, the trio made six research presentations at the University of Freiburg, participated in classes and planned research with world-renowned educational psychologist Alexander Renkl and two of his doctoral students.

The joint research combines Kiewra’s SOAR study method, which helps students select, organize, associate, and regulate information, as they study with Renkl’s interest in the testing effect; the idea that repeated testing boosts achievement.

Kiewra’s alternative research interest in studying talent and expertise in highly productive people led to his first meeting Renkl. Kiewra, Flanigan and Luo interviewed Renkl and other highly productive German scholars as a follow-up to Kiewra’s earlier investigations of productive educational psychologists in the United States.

“Being around Renkl and his students, exchanging ideas and working with them resulted in some really healthy intellectual stimulation,” said Kiewra. “It’s also been very interesting to see how other people and other systems operate. We’ve gotten some insights into the German higher education system compared to our own. 

The international seed grant also allowed Kiewra to host Renkl and two of his students in Lincoln earlier this year. That exchange resulted in more than just an academic endeavor, as the Lincoln hosts gave their German guests a warm Midwestern experience.

“It was not just an intellectual exchange, it was also a cultural exchange,” Kiewra said. “We took them on hikes every morning through Wilderness Park in Lincoln. We took them to Husker basketball games, ate meals with them and visited a winery in Nebraska City. We got them off the beaten path and got them to see another side of America they wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”

Alexander Renkl
University of Freiburg professor Alexander Renkl hosted Educational Psychology professor Ken Kiewra
and two doctoral students for a meal in his home.

Renkl reciprocated in Germany, inviting his Nebraska friends into his home, taking them on hikes through the Black Forest, and hosting an outing to Comar, France.

Kiewra says he and his students also hope to garner some conference presentations and a publication through the work with Renkl and his students, with implications for better teaching and learning at the college level.

CEHS international seed grant proposals are typically due in early March each year. For more information, visit

College of Education and Human Sciences
Educational Psychology