Personal profile

Personal profile

I am an emeritus professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and part-time faculty member at the Beckman Institute. I also have zero-time appointments in the Psychology and the ISE Departments, the Carle/UIUC College of Medicine, and the Illinois Informatics Institute.

Research Interests

Prof. Morrow’s research focuses on learning, cognition, and communication in complex task domains such as health care and aviation, with a focus on aging. Recent projects have investigated the impact of health literacy (and cognition more broadly) on older adults’ comprehension of information needed to self-manage chronic illness. Focusing on older adults with hypertension, Prof. Morrow’s group has found that lower health literacy reflects lower levels of processing capacity (such as working memory) and knowledge (related to language and health). Processing capacity limits impair specific processes involved in understanding information needed to self-manage hypertension, such as recognizing longer and uncommon words and integrating concepts into a representation of the message. However, high levels of knowledge can offset these processing capacity limits to improve memory for self-care information. In a recent study, they redesigned self-care information found on commonly used websites in order to reduce comprehension demands on processing capacity and support the use of knowledge. Older adults better remembered the redesigned information compared to the original web-based information.

Morrow’s group has also leveraged technology to support self-care among older adults with chronic illness. They developed a computer-based tool to help nurses collaborate with older adults who have complex medication regimens in order to help the patients learn how to take their medications. A current study is evaluating whether the tool improves medication knowledge and adherence. Prof. Morrow also collaborated with engineering faculty at UIUC to explore whether older adults better understand numeric health information (such as cholesterol test results) available in patient portals when the information is delivered by a computer-based agent, compared to typical numeric formats used in portals.


I have taught courses related to how human performance and cognition influence how people interact with technology. My core course was EPSY 456 (Human Performance and Cognition in Context), which is cross-listed with the Psychology and the ISE departments.


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