Alexander Robert Toftness Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Alexander Robert Toftness

Coe College

Alexander R. Toftness, PhD, is a Science Communicator from the Midwestern United States. He hosts the ARTexplains Science and History channel on YouTube. Dr. Toftness has taught a variety of biological, cognitive, and educational psychology courses and has presented at numerous science communication events across the country.


Howdy! I'm Alexander R. Toftness (he/him) and I earned my Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Iowa State University. Much of my research focuses on educational psychology and neuropsychology. I usually go by Xander, and I have been a science communicator since 2014. In that time I have made around a hundred educational videos, presented science both to the general public and at academic conferences, and written many articles both for a lay audience and peer-reviewed publications. I specialize in science writing and video editing, but I also know my way around creative writing. When not writing or editing video, I am usually reading a book with my cat, Sabrina. In 2022, I published a multimedia video/book project with Routledge that explains types of brain damage in simple terms. It's called "Incredible Consequences of Brain Injury: The Ways Your Brain Can Break." My wife and I live in Iowa where we teach psychology courses.


    PhD Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 2022

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Brain injury case studies
    Learning from educational videos
    Study habits in college students
    Prequestion effect
    Instructor fluency

Personal Interests

    Video editing
    Multimedia projects
    Audio editing



Featured Title
 Featured Title - Toftness - Incredible Consequences of Brain Injury - 1st Edition book cover


Journal of Anatomy

The Xander ligament? Caution advised when using online encyclopaedias

Published: Aug 01, 2020 by Journal of Anatomy
Authors: Thomas Ledger, Alexander R Toftness

Here, we discuss a series of events that led to an article in a prestigious medical journal mistakenly using a fake eponymous term that originated in a YouTube video and then spread to Wikipedia.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied

Effects of lecture fluency and instructor experience on students’ judgments of learning, test scores, and evaluations of instructors

Published: Mar 01, 2020 by Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Authors: Shana K Carpenter, Paige E Northern, Sarah Tauber, Alexander R Toftness

Students viewed a video-recorded lecture of a fluent or disfluent lecture, and beforehand were informed that the instructor was experienced or inexperienced. Afterward, students made a JOL estimating how much they had learned, and took a test.

Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition

The limited effects of prequestions on learning from authentic lecture videos

Published: Sep 01, 2018 by Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Authors: Alexander R Toftness, Shana K Carpenter, Sierra Lauber, Laura Mickes

Does the prequestion effect apply when students view authentic video-recorded lectures prepared for actual courses?


Study strategies and beliefs about learning as a function of academic achievement and achievement goals

Published: May 28, 2018 by Memory
Authors: Jason Geller, Alexander R Toftness, Patrick I Armstrong, Shana K Carpenter, Carly L Manz, Clark R Coffman, Monica H Lamm

We examined whether students’ achievement goals, independent of academic achievement, predicted beliefs about learning and endorsement of study strategies.

Metacognition and Learning

Instructor fluency leads to higher confidence in learning, but not better learning

Published: Apr 01, 2018 by Metacognition and Learning
Authors: Alexander R Toftness, Shana K Carpenter, Jason Geller, Sierra Lauber, Madeline Johnson, Patrick I Armstrong

The present study manipulated the fluency of a 31-min video-recorded lecture, and measured its effects on both perceived and actual learning.

Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition

The effect of prequestions on learning from video presentations

Published: Mar 01, 2017 by Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Authors: Shana K Carpenter, Alexander R Toftness

This study explored the effects of prequestions on learning from videos.


Exploding Head Syndrome. The Ways Your Brain Can Break

Published: Jul 28, 2021

With one of the most metal names, this brain disorder is surprisingly not dangerous at all. It will rudely wake you up from time to time with an explosion, however. Allow me to explain!

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. The Ways Your Brain Can Break

Published: Jun 01, 2022

Common in young people with migraines and seizures, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a disorienting collection of symptoms. People may experience macropsia and micropsia, in which things appear larger or smaller than they are supposed to be. People may have unusual perceptions of time and their own bodies. Let's explore this remarkable disorder in this episode of The Ways Your Brain Can Break.

Denying Blindness - Anton-Babinski Syndrome - The Ways Your Brain Can Break

Published: Dec 21, 2022

When a person is blind (or partially blind), they aren't always aware of that fact... which can lead to the symptoms of Anton Syndrome, where the person may try to prove that they can see by confabulating with their imagination about what they believe that they can see!