Category Archives: Research

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Joshua Ellis

Ellis was mentioned recently in Seely’s article about Cécile Piret (Math). He was, and is, her partner in studying how students learn in Calculus 3 by adding 3-D printers to class exercises. Seely indicates Ellis merits recognition in the Showcase in his own right, saying, “We expect CLS faculty to integrates research on education and learning with his classroom endeavors, but Josh’s approaches merit special attention.”
Ellis began his career as a K-12 teacher in Minneapolis, and knew from the beginning that he was expected to actively consider how a teacher’s decisions affected students. He elaborates, “I asked myself questions every day: How do I know when learning is happening in my classroom? How do my students learn best? What’s my role as the instructor?”
Importantly, he found that the answers to these questions often changed, leading him to adopt a research-like approach. “I sought to identify what helped my students succeed and what inhibited their growth as learners.”
He also entered the STEM Education doctoral program at the University of Minnesota, where faculty embraced this connection between research and educational practice. “I learned how to rigorously analyze teaching through a research lens, and I also learned how to conduct more meaningful research through the teaching lens. I firmly believe that I need both research and teaching to do it.”
This synthesis is embedded in Ellis’ research and classroom instruction at Michigan Tech, where he teaches future K-16 educators. His approach is especially useful when exploring how educational technology can support student learning. This might be best shown by a comment Ellis shared from B.W. Seibert: “Teachers will never be replaced by technology … but teachers who use technology effectively will replace those who do not.”
Ellis considers this perspective “both a warning and an opportunity for education students at Tech eager to use the incredible technological tools of our age to push the boundaries of what we think learning is.” He applies Seibert in his instructional technology course (ED3100) and in his work developing the new foundations of online teaching (ED5101) course. Both courses help educators learn to reach broader audiences, engage diverse participants and empower people of all abilities and backgrounds to achieve more. Students “learn how technology can lower barriers to finding information and more quickly allow students to seek knowledge and understanding.”
This insight explains Ellis’s enthusiasm for 3-D printers as tools that can create solution spaces for mathematics problems. He added that he feels a responsibility to model himself those practices he hopes his students will adopt within their future classrooms. “Educators who engage in these practices are poised to inspire interest, creativity and excellence in their students. I’m incredibly proud of the work that I do as an educational researcher and as an instructor to create these opportunities for our students.”
Seely agrees, and that is why he chose Ellis as this week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase member. Ellis will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.
by Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

Transdisciplinary: Working Across the Campus

Michigan Technological University’s transdisciplinary researchers reach across disciplines and institutional boundaries to solve complex problems that are bigger than a single specialized field.

Kelly Steelman, an assistant professor of cognitive & learning sciences, says diversity is good for problem-solving. If you only have a spoon, the only food you’ll want to eat is soup.

“The more tools you have available to your research team, the more likely you are to consider a variety of solutions and not get stuck always trying to use the same approach to every problem… The more perspectives we bring to the table, the better opportunity we have to create innovative and transformative solutions.”

Read the full story on the Michigan Tech News Website.



On the Road

PhilartpicMyounghoon (Philart) Jeon (CLS/CS) and his three graduate students are attending the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2017 International Annual Meeting, which began October 9-13th, in Austin, Texas.

In addition, Jeon attended the International ACM Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications, held in Oldenburg, Germany, Sept 24-27th. For this year’s conference, Jeon chaired the video program, served as the international panel for the student doctoral colloquium, co-organized the Workshop on User-Centered Design for Automated Driving Systems and served as a chair for the Automated Driving session.

Jeon also presented two work-in-progress papers and one video at the conference:

  • “Blueprint of the Auditory Interactions in Automated Vehicles: Report on the Workshop and Tutorial”
  • “Eyes-free In-vehicle Air Gesture Controls: Auditory-only Displays Reduced Visual Distraction and Workload”
  • “Design Process of Sonically-enhanced Air Gesture Controls in Vehicles”


Dr. Myounghoon “Philart” Jeon Publishes Handbook

PhilartpicDr. Myounghoon “Philart” Jeon, Associate Professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences and the Department of Computer Science, published his first handbook titled “Emotions and Affect in Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction” with Elsevier publishing company on April 5th, 2017.

Emotions and Affect in Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction is a complete guide for conducting affect-related research and design projects in H/F and HCI domains. Introducing necessary concepts, methods, approaches, and applications, the book highlights how critical emotions and affect are to everyday life and interaction with cognitive artifacts. The text covers the basis of neural mechanisms of affective phenomena, as well as representative approaches to affective computing, Kansei engineering, hedonomics, pleasurable product design, and emotional design.

Dr. Jeon is the founding director of the Mind Music Machine Lab. He also serves as a Director of the Center for Human-Centered Computing at the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems at Michigan Tech. His research focuses on HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) and HRI (Human-Robot Interaction), including Auditory Displays, Affective Computing, Assistive Technologies, Automotive User Interfaces, and Aesthetic Computing. His research has yielded more than 150 publications across top peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings. His research is currently supported by NIH (National Institutes of Health), DOT (Department of Transportation), FRA (Federal Railroad Association), Hyundai Motors Company, Equos Research Co., LTD., and MTTI (Michigan Tech Transportation Institute). Dr. Jeon teaches Affective Design and Computing, Human Factors, Human FactPhilartors II: Multimodal Design and Measures, Human-Robot Interaction, and Human-Centered Design, among others. He serves as an Associate Editor of MIT Press Journal, Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments and Affective Design Technical Committee of International Ergonomics Association (IEA). He has recently guest-edited journal special issues in “subliminal perception” (Presence) and “social cars and connected vehicles” (Pervasive and Mobile Computing), “arts and aesthetics in VR (Presence), and “sonic information design” (Ergonomics in Design). He actively works in international conferences – chairing programs and sessions, organizing workshops, and serving as program committee in AutomotiveUI, ICAD, HFES, CHI, MobileHCI, UbiComp, and PersuasiveTech.


Grad Student Madeline Peabody defends Masters

image132025-persApplied Cognitive Science & Human Factors student Madeline Peabody will defend on Friday, March 31 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm in Meese Center 109. Her advisor is Elizabeth Veinott.

Title: Improving Planning: Quantitative Evaluation of a Premortem in Field and Laboratory Settings

Abstract: Planning can be difficult and developing techniques for evaluating plans has been limited.  This thesis compares different plan evaluation techniques in a series of experiments.

The main techniques discussed are the Premortem Method and Worst-Case Scenario Method.  The Premortem plan evaluation method can help people reduce overconfidence and generate more reasons a plan might not succeed.  Only one experiment has validated this technique; therefore, one goal of the present series of experiments is to qualitatively and quantitatively examine the effectiveness of the Premortem Method in several different planning situations.

This research evaluates the extension of the Premortem to shorter planning time periods, evaluates the effectiveness with team generated and executed plans, and compares the use of this technique among individuals and teams.  In Experiment 1, 52 Army Cadets operating in teams completed six time-constrained field exercises that required planning, half using the Premortem and half using a standard Military plan evaluation process.  Compared to a control condition, when teams used the Premortem they had fewer fouls and less fixation with no change in execution time. In Experiment 2, 72 individual participants from university organizations used the Premortem Method or Worst-Case Scenario Method to evaluate their group’s plan for an engineering task.

Results from Experiment 2 indicated that there was no statistically significant difference in the number of reasons and solutions generated between methods.  To further examine the relative effectiveness of these two plan evaluation methods, and the influence of group dynamics, Experiment 3 compared the efficacy of the Premortem and Worst-Case Scenario Method among groups and individuals in face-to-face settings with a complex and unfamiliar plan.  Eighty-two participants generated more reasons with the Premortem Method than the Worst Case Scenario Method, and groups generated more solutions than individuals did.

Overall, the participants in groups using the Premortem Method produced more reasons and solutions than participants using the Worst-Case Scenario Method and individual participants using the Premortem Method.  These studies extend prior work by validating that the Premortem is effective in short planning horizons, demonstrating that it works for individuals and teams, and clarifying potential boundary conditions.  This research advocates several directions for future research, and suggests possibility of future implementation as a virtual tool or application.


Brittany Turner, Psychology, participates in Undergrad Research Symposium

IMG_2510Brittany Turner’s research, Assessing the Impact of Age-Related Declines in Implicit Memory Processes on Motor Learning, was presented at Michigan Tech’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium this past week. With the assistance of Dr. Kevin Trewartha, Turner investigated whether scores on an implicit memory test are correlated with the slow process and whether age-related declines in implicit memory are related to deficits in motor learning.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students.

The students showcasing their work today have spent a significant portion of the past year working alongside Michigan Tech faculty and graduate students to explore, discover and create new knowledge. They’ve spent long hours in the lab or out in the field designing experiments, gathering data, creating new models and testing hypotheses. They’ve applied their classroom knowledge in new and sometimes unexpected ways, and developed new skills that will propel them forward in their careers.


Psychology Student Abigail Kuehne in Undergrad Research Symposium

IMG_20170317_135654105Abigail Kuehne’s research, Trust & Cognitive Abilities: Human Factors’ Impact on Cybersecurity Practices, was presented at Michigan Tech’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium this past week.

With the assistance of Dr. Adam Feltz, Kuehne attempts to help understand the human factors that increase vulnerability to threats in their privacy and security through internet crime and identity theft. In particular, trust and cognitive abilities appear to be two major predictors of being susceptible to phishing attacks. By determining the connection that allows/prevents the end user to susceptibility of phishing, we can implement interventions to help people protect themselves.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students.

The students showcasing their work today have spent a significant portion of the past year working alongside Michigan Tech faculty and graduate students to explore, discover and create new knowledge. They’ve spent long hours in the lab or out in the field designing experiments, gathering data, creating new models and testing hypotheses. They’ve applied their classroom knowledge in new and sometimes unexpected ways, and developed new skills that will propel them forward in their careers.


In the News

17An AP news article titled “Michigan Tech Students Teach Tech to the Inexperienced,” which features Michigan Tech’s BASIC (Building Adult Skills in Computing) program, Charles Wallace (CS), and Kelly Steelman (CLS), was published in the Charlotte Observer, Kansas City Star, Miami Herald, Washington Times, and many other news outlets across the country.

Drs. Wallace and Steelman were also featured on our blog post, Breaking Digital Barriers, last month highlighting their research.