Category Archives: Psychology

Psychology Students Present Research

2018_PsychUG_MiniconferenceStudents enrolled in PSY 3001 presented their research projects in the Meese 110 classroom on Thursday, April 26. While promoting the event, Dr. Hungwe expressed that “the mini-conference has a really great set of projects that the students conceived of, researched, designed, obtained IRB approval for, carried out, analyzed, and are finally presenting. Also, several members of the class are graduating, so this will be a great chance to see how far they’ve come.”

The mini-conference included eight projects, mentored by Professor Mueller and Professor Hungwe, that answered psychological questions in tech domains such as smart phones, health care, work place and STEM education.  Topics range from stress to work attitudes, working memory to ethical decisions, and personality to STEM education. Abstracts of the projects are listed below.
  1. Abigail Kuehne & Kira Warner : Examining Associations Between the Big Five Personality Traits, Math Attitudes and Numeracy
Previous studies have found associations between personality traits and attitudes related to anxiety and various cognitive abilities (Murdock, Oddi, Bridgett, 2013; Smith, 2017). The present study focused on college students and was comprised of two parts. Study 1 examined associations between the cognitive ability numeracy, and the Big Five Personality traits, focusing on the traits of openness to experience and neuroticism (opposite of emotional stability). The study employed a survey that contained a measure of personality using the 44-item Big Five Inventory, and a measure of numeracy using the Berlin Numeracy Test (Cokely et al., in press; John and Srivastava, 1999). The trait of numeracy was not found to be significantly correlated with any of the Big Five Personality traits. Study 2 examined associations between general math anxiety and self-perceived ability, and numeracy. A survey was conducted using the 15-item Modified Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scale and the 7-item Berlin Numeracy Test. Results suggested a negative relation between math anxiety and self-perceptions of math ability. Results also suggested a negative relation between math anxiety and the ability to interpret statistical information. These findings have important implications given the widely published research on the negative impacts of math anxiety on performance on mathematical task performance. Future research should investigate ways to help diminish math anxiety in specific populations (e.g. college students).
2. Ginger Sleeman & Ashley DeVoge: Impacts of Advertisement on Online Health Care Awareness and Utilization
 Employers have started adopting online health care programs in an effort to allow for flexibility amongst health care plans, and to reduce employer and employee medical costs. This study examines the effects of advertising on employee awareness and utilization of the Blue Cross Online Visits program. It is hypothesized that engaging employees through various advertising campaigns will increase program awareness and utilization. A pre-advertisement email survey was completed a random sample of University of 105 employees. Upon completion of the advertising campaign, a post-advertisement survey was  completed by 134 response employees. The advertising campaign had a significant impact on general awareness of online healthcare (X2(1)=16.02, p=<.001), as well as on awareness of the University offering the Blue Cross Online Visits program as a benefit (X2(1)=7.351, p=0.007). To determine if advertising had an effect on the likelihood of an employee using the program, an independent samples t-test was conducted and showed that advertising does not impact the likelihood of an individual partaking in the benefit (t(237.0)=0.175, p=0.861.)The results  also showed that age (X2(4)=4.705, p=0.319) and gender (X2(2)=2.407, p=0.300) did not impact how likely someone was to use the program.
3.     Greta Fisher, Rose Hildebrandt, & Sara Pietila: Effects of Keyword Mnemonics in Educational Settings
Past research has shown that keyword mnemonics have been effective in second-language learning, but there is limited research on its use in education (Putnam, 2015). If mnemonics are effective in helping students learn vocabulary for second languages, they may also be helpful in retaining information in other areas of education. In a preliminary survey taken by 48 participants, it was found that there was a positive correlation in the percentage of correct answers with the use of mnemonics to help answer the question, with Pearson’s R= 0.692 with p < 0.001. It was also found that although students used these methods, they rarely created their own mnemonics in order to study new materials.  The second study focused on the use of keyword mnemonics in comparison to other study methods used in educational settings, such as rote memorization.  In order to test if mnemonics were a more effective study method than rote memorization three surveys were sent out to students and asked them the same test questions. One survey had participants study with a mnemonic, another had participants study with a flashcard method and a third used no study method. If the hypothesis that mnemonics are a more effective study method is supported, we predict that participants who study with mnemonics will produce better results on a test than rote memorization. These results could help to prove that mnemonics can be utilized in subjects other than second-language learning.
4. Emmitt Forbush & Glory Creed: Effects of Priming on Ethical Reasoning
In order to create an ethically responsible society, we must understand peoples natural will to reason for themselves. The study was to explore the extent to which people put independent thought into ethical choices compared to the propensity to follow the crowd opinions or fall into framing/priming effects. In the first phase of our study, we discovered that people tend to place a high level of importance on decisions that they deem ethically challenging. We also gathered information on the types of ethical situations that people encounter in day to day life. In the second phase of our study, we used the scenarios provided by participants in study 1 to develop realistic ethical dilemmas. These ethical dilemmas were then answered by the participants of the second phase, some of whom were primed with different types of ethical reasoning logic before encountering the scenarios. We found a significant difference between groups primed with different ethical schools of thought, meaning that it appears we were able to manipulate the ethical decision making process for individuals who were primed.
5. Elizabeth Kelliher & Mariah Sherman: Occupation and self-efficacy: Predictor of success in the workplace
What makes a person successful in business? Previous research found that education is a predictor of salary, promotion, and career satisfaction (Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005). We interviewed people who considered themselves successful in business.  The results from the interviews were used to develop a survey. The survey question focuses on personal and academic background, work experience, personal beliefs about factors that influence success, management styles, personality, their education and other factors. A total of 134 people participated. Overall, we found MTU graduates felt better prepared by their education and reported that they were better equipped with the skills it takes to be successful in their jobs. Current students from all universities also had significantly different ratings of qualities for success, desired management styles, and best ways to learn on the job compared to working individuals.
6. Trista Burton: Does College cause anxiety
Anxiety is an issue that affects people in different ways and many will deal with it in their lifetime. Past experiments have focused on test anxiety of college students but have not focused on whether or not college students demonstrate higher levels of anxiety than the general population (Galassi, Frierson, & Sharer, 1981).  It was hypothesized that  those currently enrolled in college will demonstrate higher levels of anxiety. Study 1 used a 25-item which was consisting of three parts: 10 Trait Anxiety questions, 10 State Anxiety questions, and 5 demographic questions. Results showed that college students demonstrated higher levels of State-Trait Anxiety than those not enrolled in college. The focus of study 2 was on short coping mechanisms and how they impacted  the State Anxiety of college students. A 25-question survey with a randomly assigned coping mechanism was used to test the hypothesis that there are differences between coping mechanisms used  and the effect on State Anxiety levels of college students. There were no significant differences found.
7. Elise Brehob, Via Ouellette-Ballas, Kevin Grathoff:  Effects of meditation on working memory
Previous research has shown that meditation can be used to reduce stress and treat stress-related mental disorders, such as PTSD and social anxiety (Kiyonaga, Wong, & Gelfand, 2010) and educational settings (Quach, Jastrowski Mano, & Alexander, 2015). Since stress is connected to memory, studies have suggested the possibility of using meditation to improve working memory. The study investigated this in two different settings. Participants in study 1 consisted of a meditating and no-meditating group. They were asked to respond to an online survey. The survey contained demographic questions concerning meditation, mindful attention (MAA) questions, and a word recall test. It was hypothesized that the meditating group would perform better than the non-meditating group on  memory and mindfulness tests. The differences were not significant. Study 2 was a lab experiment with an experimental and control group. The experimental group completed the N-back memory task, with an intervening 15-minute period of meditation, which was followed by  the completion of the Corsi memory task. The control group completed the memory tasks with a 5-minute break between the tests, with no meditation. The results are inconclusive. Follow up studies with larger samples are recommended.
8. Madeline Shortt: The compulsion to use smartphones in college students
There has been an increasing interest in understanding problematic smartphone use and its characteristic (Wang, Lee & Li, 2016). This two part study  investigated the compulsion to use the smartphone among a college population. Study 1 was designed as an online survey with 34 participants.  It was hypothesized that the compulsion to use smartphones would be associated with the number of apps used. A Chi-square test was conducted with compulsion (DV) and social media apps on their devices (IV). The social media apps were categorized as  either high compulsion or low compulsion, and the social media use was categorized the same. There was  no significant difference found (X2(1) =0.075, p=0.78). Study 2 investigated if the compulsion to use a smartphone would disrupt an attention task. Fourteen college students participated in a lab setting where they were given a task. Halfway through the experiment, two messages were sent to their phones. The participants’ level of concentration was observed before and after the messages were sent using a rating scale. A note was also made on whether they attended to the message or not.  A paired-sample t-test was conducted to compare the before and after their phone went off concentration scores. There was a significant difference in the paired-sample t-test (M=2.0, SD=0.34); t(13)=6.360, p<.001). Results showed that almost every individual’s concentration score went down once their device went off and over half of the individuals checked their devices.  The result show that students had developed a compulsion to use smartphones even when their attention was needed to complete a task.

World Class Expert on Cognitive Systems Engineering Visits CLS

Dr. Robert HoffmaIMG_2692n, world renowned expert on cognitive systems engineering and Senior Scientist at the Institute for Human Machine Cognition (IHMC), gave a talk on April 9, entitled, “Integrated Model of Macrocognition” for students and faculty in Cognitive and Learning Sciences and Human Computing Center at MTU. IHMC, based in Pensacola, Florida, is a leading organization in research to understand and extend human capabilities and technologies.

Dr. Hoffman is working with MTU Faculty, Dr. Shane Mueller on a DARPA project to develop explainable AI.

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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.



Students Inducted into the National Honor Society in Psychology

IMG_8054The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences inducted seven new members into Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology: Glory Creed, Elizabeth Kelliher, Abigail Kuehne, Mariah Sherman, Kay Tislar, Samantha Verran, and Kira Warner. The induction ceremony took place at the Harold Meese Center on Sunday, December 3.  The Michigan Tech Chapter of Psi Chi is led by Halie Hart (President) and Caden Sumner (Treasurer) and advised by Dr. Kelly Steelman.


Halie Hart Receives Departmental Scholar Award

Every year, each academic department nominates one student to represent their department as its Departmental Scholar. The Provost’s Award for Scholarship is given to a senior who best represents student scholarship at Michigan Tech. This outstanding student is considered excellent not only by academic standards, but also for participation in research scholarship activity, levels of intellectual curiosity, creativity, and communication skills.

Halie Hart is exactly the kind of student that exemplifies Michigan Tech, our mission, and our department scholars. Halie is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Law and Society. Her intellectual curiosity that drives her to master material, her problem solving skills, and her discipline have made her an excellent student and scholar in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences. These feats alone would be impressive. However, they are even more impressive given that Halie is at the top of her class in terms of  GPA while also being a college athlete as member of the volleyball team. We expect great things from her going forward, as she plans to continue her education and has the potential to be an outstanding scholar at the graduate level as well.

Halie is a natural leader. Halie was recently inducted into Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. She has since taken on the role of President in both Psi Chi and the MTU student organization Association of Psychology Students (APS). As with most student orgs, they have peaks and valleys in terms of organized activities, student commitment, etc. Halie is working hard to revitalize both organizations and provide quality programming in the upcoming semesters. Dr. Steelman, the advisor to these organizations, stated that Halie is breathing new life into these groups  in a way that she has not seen from another executive officer in her time as advisor. Congratulations, Halie!


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.


Recent Psychology Graduate to Present Work at Conference

Brittany EricksonBrittany Erickson, a 2016 graduate of the Psychology program, was selected to present her work that stemmed from a project she created in Dr. Shane Mueller’s Research Methods and Statistics course last spring. The conference is for The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), who will hold their 44th Biennial Convention this fall in Indianapolis, Indiana.

STTI represents nurses and is the single largest group of healthcare professionals in the world. Their goal is to provide introduction and access to new healthcare knowledge and resources. Erickson’s study focused on the risk factors and consequences of occupational burnout among nurses. Some questions that are quantitatively and qualitatively addressed are: “How is their clinical decision making affected by burnout?” and “What are the professional and personal ramifications?”

Her poster will be displayed on-site and will also be included in the Virginia Henderson Global Nursing e-Repository to be used as a resource for continuing nursing education after the conference.


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.