Erich Petushek ranks in top 100 most impactful articles on the ACL

Photo of Erich Petushek, CLS assistant professor

Erich Petushek (CLS) and co-authors received high rankings in The top 100 most impactful articles on the anterior cruciate ligament: an altmetric analysis of online media, recently released by SAGE Open Medicine.

Petushek’s article “Evidence-Based Best-Practice Guidelines for Preventing Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Young Female Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine and has been ranked #16 as measured by the Altmetric Attention Score (AAS). Altmetric tracks the type and volume of online engagement the research has received since published.

The purpose of the research was to evaluate the common and effective components included in Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) neuromuscular training (NMT) programs and develop an efficient, user-friendly tool to assess the quality of the injury prevention programs. This was accomplished by using meta-analytic techniques to develop an easy to use checklist—a human factors tool—to evaluate the effectiveness of ACL injury prevention programming. The article’s AAS was 380 at the time the ranking was conducted in January 2022.

Clinicians, coaches, athletes, parents, and practitioners can use the developed checklist tool to gain insight into the quality of their current injury prevention programs and optimize their programming for future ACL NMT to reduce injury risk.


Erich is an assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences and a member of the Health Research Institute at Michigan Tech.

Briana Bettin Wins Best Paper Award at ITiCSE ’22

A paper by Briana Bettin, Assistant Professor (CS / CLS), received Best Paper Award at the 27th ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE ’22), held July 8-13, 2022, in Dublin, Ireland.

The title of the paper is, “Semaphore or Metaphor?: Exploring Concurrent Students’ Conceptions of and with Analogy.” Co-authors are Linda Ott (CS) and Julia Hiebel. The paper is published in the conference proceedings.

Paper Abstract: Concurrent programming can be a rewarding but challenging topic for computing students. Comprehending concurrency can help students gain a better understanding of the computer as a machine, and how processes within modern machines execute and interact. Knowledge of concurrency is important to develop secure and robust multithreaded programs. However, understanding this topic at a machine and syntactic level can be difficult for students due to its novelty and complexity. Several topics in concurrent computing can initially be explored at a high-level using real-world examples and analogies to facilitate comprehension. This paper explores perspectives provided by university students in a concurrent programming course on the use of analogy to facilitate learning about concurrent topics. Through this paper, we draw attention to analogies used in course examples and assignment prompts, while turning attention to how students interpret and reason about and with these. We also explore new analogies these students crafted while reasoning about the problem space. This exploration suggests that while these students may draw attention to different aspects (in different ways) of an analogy’s design, they generally approach similar conclusions in their reasoning process provided the core relational design remains intact. Students also applied prior analogies from lecture and past assignments, actively reasoning during problem solving with these known examples. There is also some evidence of analogy mixing and swapping, suggesting malleability in analogy use while problem solving. Together, this exploration contributes to understanding student problem solving, reasoning behaviors, and perspectives while using analogy within concurrent computing courses.

Paper Citation: Briana Bettin, Linda Ott, and Julia Hiebel. 2022. Semaphore or Metaphor? Exploring Concurrent Students’ Conceptions of and with Analogy. In Proceedings of the 27th ACM Conference on on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education Vol. 1 (ITiCSE ’22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 200–206. https://doi.org/10.1145/3502718.3524796

Alumni Spotlight: Emilee (Philson) Stanczyk

Minoring in Psychology at Michigan Tech led me to find and obtain my dream job. I never knew that I could combine engineering and psychology and turn it into a career. My minor helped me understand how people think and behave, feeding into my work on medical devices that are used by various groups of people. It has also taught me how to interact with diverse personalities and perspectives, serve clients in a global market, and lead my employees toward success. I would not have the career that I have today without my Psychology minor.

Emilee (Philson) Stanczyk, Managing Human Factors Specialist at Emergo by UL

Michigan Tech alumna, Emilee (Philson) Stanczyk had a strong interest in medical technology when she started Michigan Tech in 2012, and knew she wanted to use her math and science skills for medical innovation. As she explored career options within biomedical engineering, she realized that before you design and develop medical technology, you have to first understand who your users arewhat they want and need and how they think and work. That prompted her to add a minor in psychology to her education, opening up a wide variety of career opportunities in the field of Human Factors Engineering. “I quickly discovered that Human Factors is highly regulated in the medical device field and would enable me to use my biomedical engineering skills to develop products specifically for their intended users,” said Stanczyk.

This past week we got a chance to catch up with Emilee and hear how her life after Michigan Tech has been going so far in this alumni Q&A.

Q: With Alumni Reunion 2022 right around the corner (August 4-6), we’d love for you to reflect back and tell us why you decided on Michigan Tech for your undergraduate studies?

A: I knew that I wanted to major in Biomedical Engineering, so I started with schools in my home state of Michigan that offered the major. I was looking for a school that was big enough to have lots of opportunities for me to begin my career and get involved in student organizations, but small enough for me to make connections with my peers and professors. Michigan Tech was that happy medium. Although all of that was what drew me to look at Michigan Tech, it was my first visit to campus that really “sold” me. The campus itself is beautiful but the surrounding area was like no other place I had lived before, and I just knew it was where I would spend my undergraduate years.

Q: You have recently been promoted to Managing Human Factors Specialist at Emergo by UL. What does an average day at work look like for you?

A: In short, every day is different! A lot of my work consists of usability testing where I conduct sessions with representative users who use devices in development so that I can assess if the device is safe to use. This could mean I’m working with surgeons to evaluate a new surgical robotic system, or patients who have a skin condition to evaluate a new injection device. Other projects involve working with clientsmedical device manufacturersto advise them on regulatory strategy, often navigating FDA’s Human Factors requirements for marketing a medical device. In addition to my project work, I serve as a manager to a team of human factors specialists and help guide and mentor them.

Q: It’s evident that you are passionate about your work. Can you tell us a bit more as to why?

A: Knowing that my work impacts individuals on a daily basis is meaningful and is why I do what I do. I know that at some point in my life, I or someone I love, might need to use a medical device, and taking the time to design the devices intentionally, such that they can be used safely and effectively, is so vital in today’s world.

Q: Looking back, can you tell us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way?

A: My biggest lesson I have learned so far in my career is not to dwell on mistakes. Sometimes a failure seems like the worst thing that could happen in the moment. But often times, dwelling on the mistake is worse than the actual mistake. Accept that mistakes are learning opportunities and although you can’t change the past, you can use it to transform your future.

Q: What do you see for the future of Human Factors?

A: The field of Human Factors is growing and growing and has never been so important in our society. As technology advances and becomes more widely available, implementing Human Factors into product designboth medical and non-medicalwill be imperative to safe and effective use. I see the field growing and more and more jobs becoming available.

Q: You have been of service as a student mentor through the Women’s Leadership Institute and The Chapel Student Ministry. What is the top advice you give to young students deciding on their future education and career?

A: Find what you’re passionate about and what motivates you. Although your career will often be challenging and hard work, it should be something you enjoy doing. Find your “why” for why you enjoy something and use it as your driving motivation to move forward and work toward a goal. Finally, don’t be afraid to change your mind. Life is too short to have a career you don’t love. Go after what you want and make it happen!

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your career in the human factors field so far?

A: The most rewarding part was during one of my usability tests. I was working with a patient who had a rare diseaseone that limited her life expectancy to a relatively young age. During the session, the patient got emotional talking about her disease and how it has negatively impacted her life. After hearing stories about her experience, we got to talk about how the device in development we were assessing would greatly improve her day-to-day activities and overall lifestyle. She thanked me for the work I was doing and was so appreciative that her needs as a patient were being considered. It was very rewarding to hear first-hand the impact my work would have on that patient population.

Another really rewarding experience was getting to travel to Shanghai, China for a usability test where we were interested in learning how the different techniques taught in medical school in the US and in China might impact the way surgeons use a surgical stapler. It was my first time visiting China, and I really enjoyed that cultural experience as part of my job.

Q: With a background in psychology, you understand the importance of self care. What are some ways you incorporate it into your life?

A: The most important self-care tip I can relay is to set boundaries. I work in a hybrid model where I spend some days in the office and some at home. In today’s modern world, I am usually accessible via phone or email at all times. It’s important for me to set boundaries on my work email and make sure I am not checking it during “off” hours so that there is separation between home and work. I also find that moving my bodywhether it’s a run around my neighborhood, a walk during my lunch break, or time in the gymcan do just as much good for my mental and emotional health as it can my physical health. I also make sure that I spend some time away from technology each week to engage in something I enjoy doing, like cooking, reading a book, or playing golf.

Q: What is next for you on your life journey?

A: Career-wise, I am looking to grow into my role as a people manager, which is something I took on a few months ago. I look forward to opportunities to mentor and manage those who are early in their career.

Life-wise, my husband and I hope to start a family soon and plant our roots in the Chicago suburbs. We bought our first house a few months ago and are enjoying some new projects as first-time homeowners. I also really enjoy traveling and have a bucket list item to visit all of the US National Parks, so I’m hoping to cross some more off in the next few years!


We look forward to seeing our alumni back on campus in August and invite everyone to stay in touch on Instagram and Facebook @clsmtu.

Brittany Nelson and the Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality

ACSHF PhD student Brittany Nelson (bottom left) at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany

Summer is a time for adventure and learning. ACSHF PhD student Brittany Nelson earned her spot to experience both as the recipient of a 2022 Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality scholarship.

The program offers a forum for young scholars from around the world in various disciplines to share their approaches, discuss their research, and inspire each other. This year’s Summer Institute took place June 14 – 22, at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. Brittany shares her experience with us here.


Photo of Brittany Nelson

I’m very grateful to have attended the Max Planck Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality in Berlin, Germany. I heard from some of the best researchers in the world who study decision making (e.g., Dr. Gerd Gigerenzer and Dr. Ralph Hertwig). While there I developed and refined new research ideas, created a professional network with excellent graduate student researchers, learned new methodologies from interdisciplinary fields, and refined my presentation skills in front of leading experts! On the last day I heard an inspiring talk from Dr. Naomi Oreskes who discussed the responsibility of scientists to disseminate our science within our society. I really enjoyed my time there and am significantly better researcher for it. [Hear Dr. Oreskes message in her Ted Talk below.]

Brittany was also awarded a King-Chávez-Parks (KCP) Future Faculty Fellowship this past spring in support of her doctoral studies. Under the advisement of Dr. Erich Petushek, her current Ph.D. research involves identifying, measuring, and improving key factors that impact healthy lifestyle decisions.

For more CLS summer adventures and the latest happenings, follow us on Instagram @clsmtu and like us on Facebook.

New Student Spotlight: Ani Schneiderhan

Hello everyone. We’d like to introduce you to new psychology major Ani Schneiderhan, a member of CLS’ incoming class for Fall 2022.

A native of Calumet, Michigan, Ani’s volunteer work with the Main Street Calumet Board and Farmers Market recently earned her a Community Impact Award from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Her community involvement also includes concern for the environment, assisting Nitrate Elimination, a Lake Linden based biotechnology company, in their test kits marketing campaign. As part of her academics, Ani was co-captain of her school’s Junior-ROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB) and a member of the Science Olympiad and forensics teams. For these accomplishments and more, Ani was selected as a Michigan Tech Leading Scholar and recipient of a Portage Health Foundation Making a Difference Scholarship. Already thinking like a Husky–Ani was instrumental in promoting the inaugural “Snow-coming” event in Calumet last year.

Let’s learn a little more about Ani with a few quick Q&As.

Q: Looking back on the past four years, what was the most memorable highlight of your time in high school?

A:  One of my most memorable experiences was going to Washington, DC for the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB) competition. My team qualified for Nationals in 2020 and 2021. The 2020 competition was canceled due to COVID-19 but we placed 4th in the Nation in 2021, out of a field that began with over 1,700 competitors.

Ani at the National JLAB Competition in Washington, D.C.

Q:  When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A:  I really wanted to be a pediatric orthopedic surgeon when I was younger. Mostly because I went to see one and I wanted to have a cool sounding job.

Q: How has that changed or how have you incorporated that into your future plans?

A:  Well, I realized that I’m not comfortable standing or walking for long periods of time. And I’ve always wanted to have a profession that helped people, so I decided on Psychology. 

Q: Do you have any special plans for summer before starting college in the fall?

A: Yes! I am volunteering at the National JLAB Competition in DC, the same one I competed in last year.

Q:  Tell us a little something about Michigan Tech that attracts you?

A:  I like the open area around campus, the trails and the water. But I also like that the student-to-faculty ratio is smaller than at other universities.

Q: You’ve chosen Psychology as your major. Can you tell us a bit more as to why?

A:  I like Psychology because it’s the study of humans and how we react. There’s not really a “right” way to look at things and everyone is going to have a different perspective even though their brains might function in a similar way. 

Q:  Besides your studies, what other activities at Michigan Tech do you want to be a part of? 

A:  I have always enjoyed watching the productions put on by Michigan Tech students. I’ve participated in high school plays so I’m excited to join something in theatre. I’m also going to join the pep band. 

Q:  What’s the best advice you have been given in your life so far?

A:  My Biology teacher, Mrs Wright, would always have us say her mantra at the end of each class; “If you can be anything, be kind”. 

Q:  How would you change the world if you could?

A:  I would really like to see people stop judging based on their characteristics and be open to hearing opposing opinions. 

Q: Would you like to give a shout out to anyone?

A:  I would like to give a shout out to my JROTC instructors Major Farley and First sergeant Powell for helping me develop my leadership skills. 

We are excited to see Ani here at Michigan Tech this fall, along with all of our new incoming and returning students!

If you are a new psych or human factors student for Fall 2022, and would like to say “hey”, please reach out to cls@mtu.edu or message us @clsmtu.

Measuring Changes in Motor Learning Outside the Laboratory

The Aging, Cognition, and Action Lab in CLS is currently investigating the validity of a new web-based application for measuring changes in motor learning that occur in healthy aging and Parkinson’s disease. Traditional laboratory approaches to measuring motor learning impose barriers to accessibility for many participants, while few options for portable devices such as smartphones and tablets have been developed. An effective web-based approach would allow testing to occur remotely, improving the reach to multiple populations of interest.

As a part of their investigative research, Dr. Kevin Trewartha and his team are seeking healthy older adults to participate in the study, as well as those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Interested participants are otherwise free from medical conditions that affect movement besides Parkinson’s disease, are between the ages of 60 and 90, and are familiar with computers and how to use them. Participants should also be free from other medical conditions that impair cognitive function.

Photo of PhD student Alexandra Watral

The research is spearheaded by ACSHF PhD student Alexandra Watral who received a Songer Research Award for this project. This award is funded through a generous donation from MTU alumni Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) to the College of Sciences and Arts.

For more information or to see if you qualify for the study, contact the Aging, Cognition and Action Lab at 906-487 2378.

Assessing the validity of an online assessment of motor learning, Alexandra Watral, 2022

Q&A with Teaching Award Winner Briana Bettin

Briana Bettin is the recipient of Michigan Technological University’s 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Teaching Professor/Professor of Practice/Assistant Professor category.

My goal is not just that students know how to code — you can find coding tutorials anywhere that give you raw “stuff.” I want to help them validate whether they understand what code does and whether they can communicate about code with others and justify their decisions while programming. I also ensure that students recognize, even if we aren’t building big systems for people just yet while we learn these foundations, that code is powerful and comes with responsibility, that there are social impacts to what they program and that computer scientists are often the least likely to recognize how impactful to society their job can be. These skills and this awareness are what job recruiters look for in the modern market. They are also valuable even for those who won’t go on to become programmers.

Briana Bettin

For complete Q&A with CLS / CS assistant professor Briana Bettin, see Michigan Tech News.

Queer and Here: Conversations Beyond Pride Month

This Pride Month, a few Michigan Tech faculty and staff from across campus gathered for a conversation on being queer in the Keweenaw.

In this roundtable Q&A, Amlan Mukherjee, Erin Matas, Kelly Steelman, Paige Short, and Tom Adolphs share their thoughts and experiences on the importance of representation, connections, and conversations during this heritage month and beyond. Read more.

Student Spotlight: Warat “Pomm” Khaewratana

CLS congratulates its most recent PhD recipient, Warat “Pomm” Khaewratana. 

Dr. Khaewratana successfully completed his dissertation, “Word games for education: Investigating the effectiveness of adding elaboration tasks to crosswords for learning technical vocabulary,” in May 2022.

Receiving a Royal Thai Scholarship to study in the United States, Pomm set out to help resolve the problem regarding a lack of skilled laborers in Thailand’s workforce. His motivation was to create effective and innovative workers with knowledge in the latest technology and skills obtained through specialized training and curriculum. He began his graduate studies at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), New York, and earned the degree Master of Science in Manufacturing and Mechanical Systems Integration before arriving at Michigan Tech. 

Pomm was accepted to the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) PhD program in Fall 2018. He focused his doctoral research on the challenge in STEM education to not only memorize technical terms but learn and remember how to apply them in practice. He examined the gaming technique of crossword puzzles combined with strategies to enhance memory for training technical information. See dissertation abstract below for more information regarding this research.

Abstract: One challenge in STEM education is the learning of technical terms. In order to reason about higher-order scientific concepts, knowledge of technical vocabulary is often a prerequisite. Improving the knowledge may enhance learning of higher-order concepts because it reduces cognitive load students experience while learning. To that end, we need innovative learning-aid tools that help students not only in learning and remembering technical terms but also in applying the learned knowledge in broader concepts. This dissertation investigates the hypothesis that learning gain from crossword solving can be used to teach technical terms. Furthermore, I am also examining the hypothesis that an additional elaboration technique will enhance the effect of the crossword puzzle. In a series of seven experiments, I investigated the effect of crossword with add-on elaboration on students’ ability to retain memory of learned technical terms and to provide more in-depth explanations of those terms. Across experiments, I investigated (a) three different types of elaboration technique, (b) collaboration vs. individual participation, (c) in-person vs. online training, and (d) short vs. long delay. Across experimental variations, results indicated that using a crossword alone produced a statistically significant learning effect relative to a control condition. Although adding structured elaboration did provide benefits when added to crossword-based study, the results were mixed where additional time was given to crossword, and different elaboration techniques did not provide specific enhancement on memory retention. Implications for theoretical perspectives on learning technical vocabulary and best practices to implement crossword in educational settings are discussed.

Pomm will join Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna in Chiang Mai, Thailand as a teaching professor as part of the Royal Thai Government fully-funded international scholarship agreement. 

Pomm says the best memory of his time at Michigan Tech were all the group activities provided by Graduate Student Government (GSG), CLS department socials, and other university events. “I was able to try new things that I may not have gotten the chance to do on my own. Or if I did, it would not have been the same as experiencing it with others,” he explains. 

He also gave special thanks to his Co-advisors Elizabeth (Beth) Veinott and Shane Mueller, committee members (Shari Stockero, Amanda Gonczi, and Qian Zhang), colleagues, CLS staff, and chair Kelly Steelman. In closing, Pomm stated “I am who I am now because of them. Graduate student life can be very challenging. These people have helped me to succeed and prepare for my future.”

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Special shout out to colleagues Isaac and Stephanie Flint, Thomas Offer-Westort, Kaitlyn Roose, Anne Linja, Lamia Alam, and Shruti Amre.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental health refers to our emotional and social well-being and impacts how we think, feel, and behave. It enables us to connect with others, make decisions, handle stress, and many other aspects of daily life. As with our physical health, mental health plays a big role in our overall well-being. But unlike general physical illness or injury, it can be more difficult to recognize when someone is struggling with a mental health issue. 

Since September 2020, approximately 56 Michigan Tech faculty and staff have been trained and certified to recognize signs and symptoms, and provide support and strategies to those in need. This is all thanks to the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH) and Mental Health First Aid training provided by the Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being. The training, led by Sarah Dowd, Director of Student-Athlete Wellness and Clinical Counselor, and Sarah Woodruff, Clinical Counselor-Outreach, follows a hybrid model with several hours of pre and post-work and two half-day sessions of in-person instruction. The content focuses on the ALGEE plan: Approach/Access, Listen nonjudgmentally, Give reassurance and information, Encourage appropriate professional help, and Encourage self-help and other support strategies. 

Several faculty and staff from Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS) now join those certified as part of the most recent cohort trained this May.

Associate Professor Kevin Trewartha (CLS/KIP) describes his reasons for completing the training. “I have multiple roles on campus that motivated me to complete the Mental Health First Aid training. Aside from engaging with students every day as a faculty member, graduate program director, and research advisor, I am also serving as the co-chair of the University Senate Committee on Promoting and Facilitating Equity and Understanding. In addition, I am also the faculty representative for the College of Sciences and Arts on the University Diversity Council. This year, the Senate passed a resolution on raising awareness and reducing mental health stigma. The Senate and the Diversity Council are dedicated to ensuring that individuals living with mental illness are supported and welcomed at Michigan Tech. I completed the MHFA to ensure that I am prepared to contribute to those efforts.” 

Staff also play an important role in mental health support. “As CLS department coordinator and graduate program assistant, I interact with students, faculty, and staff for a variety of purposes on a daily basis,” Lisa Hitch explains of her participation in the recent MHFA training and certification. “I want to be knowledgeable about identifying and helping someone in need. I’m grateful that Michigan Tech values and provides such training for faculty and staff.”

MHFA as common as CPR

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, administered by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), shows that in 2018 an estimated 46.6 million people, or 18.9 percent of adults ages 18 years or older, experience a mental illness or substance abuse disorder each year. Latest research now estimates that more than 1 in 4 U.S. adults report experiencing symptoms of depression as we continue to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vision of the NCBH is for Mental Health First Aid to become as common as CPR and for Mental Health First Aid training to be available to everyone in the United States. 

The MHFA training also teaches first aiders the importance of self care — putting on your own oxygen mask first so that you are able to assist others. SAMHSA has defined eight dimensions of wellness to help individuals focus on optimizing their health through emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social components. (https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma16-4958.pdf). This is helpful information we can all use to support our overall wellness.

Michigan Tech’s Center for Student Mental Health and Well-being offers the Mental Health First Aid training each semester with the next available session sometime this fall. Certification is valid for three years upon successful exam completion. 

Sources: https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month; https://www.samhsa.gov/; https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/news-and-updates/; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/us-cases-of-depression-have-tripled-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

Resources:

https://www.mtu.edu/well-being/

https://www.mtu.edu/deanofstudents/students/resources/

https://www.mtu.edu/well-being/for-students/services/individual-therapy/wellbeing-guide.pdf

Mental Health First Aid