Foundations in Learning | Coralville, IA | Tel: 888-701-3009  

Foundations in Learning | Coralville, IA | Tel: 888-701-3009  

Linking the Science of Learning to the Art of Teaching

Research Team


Dr. Carolyn Brown and Dr. Jerry Zimmermann, Co-Principal Investigators, are the Co- Founders of Foundations in Learning (FIL) and adjunct professors in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Iowa. Dr. Brown is the President of FIL and Dr. Zimmermann is VP for Research. Over the past 30 years, they have researched and developed educational solutions based on learning theory. Dr. Brown led all aspects of the development and testing of iASK; Dr. Zimmermann oversaw the scientific research process.


Dr. Keith Apfelbaum, Director of Research for FIL earned his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Iowa and served as a postdoctoral scholar at Ohio State University before joining the team at FIL. His research has investigated the cognitive underpinnings and mechanisms of learning, with particular focus on how domain-general cognitive principles come to bear in specific domains, especially reading and language development. As part of the iASK team, he assisted with design, item selection and data analysis, and he helped produce the algorithms used to convert student performance into diagnostic scores.


Eric Soride, Chief Technology Officer for FIL, has deep experience in every aspect of managing the development process for educational software and curricula.  He supervised all technology development including project management of the engineering, acceptance testing, creation of hosting environment, and product deployment.


Amy VanHoosier is FIL’s Rapid Development Engineer. VanHoosier has over 20 years of experience in software development and specializes in rapid product prototyping, user interface and interaction design, and refining requirements for educational products. She designed the fully functional iASK prototypes for testing and specification for production-ready development.


Patty Benzing served as the on-site research coordinator for the school based research.


Dr. Bob McMurray, Co-Investigator, is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Iowa. His NIH and NSF funded research examines learning, language acquisition, reading, speech perception and word learning. He has a long-term collaboration with FIL and Hazeltine on learning and reading. He brought skills in experimental design, statistics, and the theoretical model that undergirds iASK. Much of his research examines individual differences including children with specific language impairment, cochlear implant users, and struggling readers. He has experience relating complex experimental measures to standardized assessments, and models of the interaction between real-time skills and knowledge. McMurray collaborated on the design of tasks and items, and design and implement the quantitative research.


Dr. Eliot Hazeltine, Co-Investigator, is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Iowa. He has expertise in the impact of task demands on learning, on the role of practice, and the impact of item similarity, and most importantly on complex skill acquisition. He has been collaborating with FIL and Dr. McMurray on learning and reading. On this project, he informed the interpretation of results, and the tasks and items that comprise iASK and participated in the design and analysis of the quantitative research.


Dr. Deborah Reed, Co-Investigator, is the Director of the Iowa Reading Research Center. Formerly, Dr. Reed was an Assistant Professor with the School of Teacher Education at Florida State University and the Florida Center for Reading Research. She has spent over 20 years in reading education as a teacher, technical assistance provider, and researcher. Dr. Reed served as PI of the Texas Adolescent Literacy Academies and the subsequent validation study (Texas Middle School Fluency Assessment). Dr. Reed served as co-PI on projects for the IES-funded Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast and as a Project Director for the NICHD funded Texas Center for Learning Disabilities. Dr. Reed led the feasibility and utility studies of iASK, and assisted with the assessment development and validation.


Dr. Kristian Markon, psychometrics consultant, is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Iowa. He is an expert on test design, statistical analysis, psychometrics and dimensional models of individual differences. He consulted on psychometric issues with iASK and on the analysis of the reliability and validity data.