Author: Breanne Carne

ACSHF Forum: Grad Student Presentations

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host two speakers at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum: Anne Inger Mortvedt and Erin Matas, both ACSHF graduate students. Their presentations will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday November 13 in Meese 109.

Mortvedt will present “Usability Assessment of Newly Developed Injury Prevention Program: Insights from Coaches and Players”

This study explores the perceptions of coaches and handball players regarding an 8-week injury prevention program aimed at reducing ACL injuries. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with coaches and a sample of players who participated in the program, providing in-depth qualitative insights about what usability characteristics affect use of an exercise program. Coaches expressed concerns about program efficiency and perceived effectiveness, leading to hesitancy in adopting it for the long term. They stressed the importance of player education and understanding, the need for adaptability in program implementation, and a “propose” rather than “impose” approach. Players had mixed feelings about the program, appreciating perceived improvements in some exercises but finding it too time-consuming and lacking evidence of effectiveness. They proposed ideas to make the training more enjoyable, emphasizing the significance of perceived effectiveness and efficiency, but also introducing playful ways to implement injury prevention training. The study underscores the importance of perceived effectiveness, program efficiency, and player enjoyment in designing successful exercise interventions. These findings can inform the development of an exercise intervention usability scale, enhancing program adoption and long-term adherence.

Matas will present “Shifting the Lens: Applying Cognitive Task Analysis Methods to the Academic Search Domain”

Although the information-seeking behavior of undergraduate students in library search has been examined, the role that cognitive complexity plays in search remains largely unexplored. In a pilot study, students participating in a library search exercise were interviewed using Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) methods to explore their mental models of the search task. Results from CTAs, such as task diagrams and concept maps, captured the cognitively complex elements for students and will be compared to expert search strategies. Implications for this work to support new library system evaluation and future experiments are discussed. Future experiments will delve deeper into practical strategies for mitigating cognitive complexity and improving search, making search more accessible and effective for people.

Shruti Amre Recipient of Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences is proud to announce that PhD Candidate Shruti Amre has been awarded the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship. Exceptional graduate students are nominated by their program or department for this award in the year of their graduation. Nominees will have demonstrated academic or professional qualities that set them apart within their academic program.

Congratulations Shruti!

Shruti’s advisor is Dr. Kelly Steelman (CLS).

CLS Students Tour Production Plant for Boss Plow

In October, a group of MTU Human Factors students toured the BOSS SnowPlow headquarters and plant in Iron Mountain, MI. BOSS is a leader in the snow and ice management business with a growing product line and increased development of human-centered processes and equipment.

Katrina Carlson, a graduate student in the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors program, organized the trip for the department after completing a summer internship at BOSS. Students toured the BOSS plant, Product Development Lab, and Virtual Reality facilities to learn about the role of human factors in consumer product design as well as production technique and quality assurance.

HFES MTU Chapter Meeting

Come join us for our first HFES (Human Factors and Ergonomics Society) MTU Chapter meeting on November 9 at 6:00 p.m.. We will be meeting via Zoom and discussing opportunities with the club for Spring semester. We will have links to both our InvolvementLink and Discord to keep you up to date on all the club activities!

Reach out to Brandon Woolman ( for a link or questions.

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ACSHF Forum: Cosmas John Kathumba

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host Cosmas John Kathumba from Rhodes University at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum.

The presentation will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. (EST) Monday October 30 via Zoom from Grahamstown, South Africa.

Title: Promoting and investigatin the pre-service teachers’ computational thinking practical development in the physical sciences methods course. 

Computational thinking (CT)’s recognition as a fundamental skill alongside writing, reading and arithmetic (Wing, 2006) has influenced researchers and educators to infuse it in other disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) apart from computer science to promote instruction and problem-solving competencies. CT is a skill set required for all humans to navigate and survive in the 21st century. However, a framework is scarce to help science teachers at the secondary school level in South Africa to practically develop CT skills. Thus, it is necessary to inititate intervention to work with teachers to develop CT practically. It is against this backdrop that this intervention study seeks to explore how pre-service physical sciences teachers develop CT in the physical sciences methods course. The main research question of this proposed study is “How do the physical sciences methods course infused with computational thinking concepts influence or not pre-service teachers’ practical development of computational thinking?” This proposed study is underpinned by the Lev Vygotsky’s social-cultural theory (SCT). Further, this study will use a transformative mixed methods design and will be guided by a “Code, Connect, Create” (3C) professional development model. The study will be carried out within the Education Faculty at Rhodes University with the postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) students during the physical sciences methods course. This proposed study will be carried out in two stages. In the first stage, pre-service teachers will be assessed on their prior understanding of CT skills before they start learning the actual content of the physical sciences methods course; in the second stage, they will be introduced to different strategies for teaching physical sciences that infuse CT skills. Data will be generated through pre-questionnaire and post-questionnaire, post-intervention interviews, peer and self-assessment, and journal reflections. A mixed method of data analysis will be employed. 

ACSHF Forum: Chikondi Sepula & Blessings Hwaca

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host Chikondi Sepula & Blessings Hwaca from Rhodes University at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum.

There will be two presentations from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday October 16 via Zoom from Grahamstown, South Africa.

Title: Exploring the Development of Computational Thinking Skills among Pre-Service Teachers through Visual Programming: An Interventionist Case Study
Due to its profound cognitive effect on learners, computational thinking (CT) has gained significant attention and has been increasingly integrated into primary and secondary education worldwide. The integration of CT into educational curricula offers several benefits, including improved learning outcomes, enhanced problem-solving abilities, and the development of skills necessary for the digital landscape of the 21st century. Reflecting this global trend, South Africa introduced CT in primary schools through a dedicated subject called “coding and robotics” in 2023. However, as cited in other contexts, teacher upskilling is a primary challenge faced in successfully integrating CT in South Africa. Many teachers lack the necessary skills to effectively teach this new subject. Recognizing this gap, I was motivated to explore the development of CT skills with pre-service teachers using visual programming. This study will be underpinned by the social-cultural theory (SCT) of Lev Vygotsky. Informed by this theory, the intervention will be guided by a professional development (PD) model called “Code, Connect, Create” and a pedagogical model known as “Use, Modify, Create”. The study will be carried out within the Education Department at Rhodes University. All first-year pre-service teachers who are willing to participate from within the department will be included in the intervention. Data will be collected through the CT Reflective tools, semi-structured interviews, focus-group discussions, and reflective journals. The CT framework proposed by Brennan & Resnick (2012) will be used as a lens to facilitate and assess CT development among the pre-service teachers as a result of the intervention. An evaluative interpretivist case study methodology will be employed in this study, as it allows the detailing of contextual effects of the visual programming approach, as well as enabling and constraining factors that should be considered when developing CT with visual programming.

Title: Working with Secondary School Educators’ on the development of Computational Thinking through lesson planning

Computational Thinking (CT) is a cognitive skill that helps learners to think logically and creatively, becoming more popular as well as necessary at all levels of education globally. By introducing CT into curriculum design and lesson activities, educators together with their learners can benefit in many ways such as effective problem-solving, better learning outcomes, and more holistic preparation for the digital challenges of the 21st century. Two of the obstacles cited in South African STEM Education are the lack of skilled teachers and low interest of learners in the former, which warrants the need for more support and focus from different actors. Since CT is not only for STEM subjects but also for any discipline or challenge, thus educators who understand computational thinking can help students use their skills in different situations and contexts and encourage them to think logically and systematically. As a scholar, I am inspired to investigate how we can promote the development of CT during lesson planning by selected secondary school educators. The intervention study will be carried out with ten educators in Makhanda, Eastern Cape province. The Pattern Recognition, Abstraction, Decomposition, and Algorithms (PRADA) and Vygotsky Social Cultural theory will be used as theoretical frameworks. The data will be collected through Workshops, Journal reflection, Interviews, and Focus Group discussions.

Indigenous Peoples Day Drum Social

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society at Michigan Tech invites you to the Indigenous Peoples Day Drum Social.

When: October 9th, 2023 at 3:00p.m.
Where: The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Hamar House.

Indigenous Peoples Day is a federal holiday in the United States that celebrates and honors Indigenous American Peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. Celebrations will be at the CDI with a local Ojibwe drum group named Four Thunders from Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Stop by and have a listen!

ACSHF Forum: Leanne Jensen

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host Leanne Jensen, PhD at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum Monday October 2 in Meese 109, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Leanne R. Jensen, PhD holds a prominent role in the aerospace industry as a member of The Boeing Company’s Technical Fellowship, focusing on Human Performance Technology and human factors engineering.  Her work has led to several invention awards related to human reliability and productivity, including a patent-pending for a model-based systems engineering approach to advanced product quality planning, solidifying her reputation as an innovative thought leader.  Her expertise in developing and implementing human-centric solutions has enabled organizations to achieve higher levels of safety, productivity, quality, and operational excellence.    

Leanne’s educational journey reflects her dedication to acquiring a diverse skill set that spans technical, instructional, and performance improvement disciplines. She holds an Associate degree in Machine Design (MTU), a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology (MTU), a Master of Science degree in Instructional Design Technology (Walden University), and a PhD in Education, specializing in Training and Performance Improvement (Capella University). This diverse educational foundation has enabled Leanne to approach her work with a holistic perspective, integrating technical and instructional principles to drive performance excellence.


In an era marked by unprecedented technological advancements, the concept of Human Digital Twins has emerged as a revolutionary paradigm with profound implications for healthcare, industry, and society at large.  Rooted in the field of digital modeling and simulation, Human Digital Twins rely on data acquisition, machine learning, sensor technology, and mathematics to digitally represent an individual’s characteristics and behaviors in a digital form.   From optimizing ergonomics and user experience to fine-tuning manufacturing processes through predictive analytics, these digital counterparts will revolutionize design, prototyping, and testing across industry.  The world of Human Digital Twins promises to expand horizons and inspire innovative thinking for the next generation of engineers, setting the stage for a future where personalized, data-driven solutions redefine our approach to design.  Explore more about the concept of Human Digital Twins are and how they can drive innovation and excellence in product development.