Skip to content


Rajan Mahadevan

Rajan MahadevanRajan Mahadevan
Distinguished Lecturer
Ph.D., Florida State University (1999)


Dr. Mahadevan received his B.A. in 1984 (majoring in psychology, criminology, and economics), and an M.A. in clinical psychology in 1986; both degrees from India. He then received an M.S. (Kansas State University, 1991) and a Ph. D (Florida State University, 1999) in cognitive psychology. For his doctoral dissertation, (supervised by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson), he devised a novel technique to determine the number of digits that can be held directly accessible in memory, at any given point. This estimate (around 3 digits) is consistent with research by Cowan (2001) and colleagues that the capacity of short-term storage is around 3 to 5 chunks. How do these findings fit in, with Miller's famous 7 ± 2 item-capacity of short-term memory? Perhaps, by analogy to juggling, we can say that Miller's estimate pertains to how many balls we can juggle, whereas the smaller estimates give information regarding how many we can hold at any given moment.

Every year, Dr. Mahadevan teaches 8 or 9 undergraduate classes and co-teaches a graduate class. He loves the challenge of providing a quality learning experience for a diverse body of students. He has three areas of research interests: the teaching of psychology, human memory, and expert performance. Specifically, he is interested in the literature on memory and expertise and the application of findings from those areas (e.g., the retrieval practice effect, test-enhanced learning, and the role of deliberate practice in skill acquisition) to teaching and learning. 

His research interests dovetail with his teaching philosophy. The areas of human memory and expertise can make valuable contributions to good quality educational interventions, the implementation of which is an indispensable part of being a good teacher.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.