Category Archives: Research

Psychology Undergraduate Honored as Departmental Scholar

At the end of each academic year, each department nominates one student to represent them as their 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.

This year, the Departmental Scholar award was given to psychology undergraduate student Hannah Kariniemi. Hannah may only be finishing her second year but has already accomplished a lot. She has achieved Junior status with an impressive GPA of 3.64 overall and 3.7 in the Major. Dr. Veinott who has Hannah in the Research Methods II course says “Hannah is motivated and diligent to chase down problems and figure them out”. She is also interning at the 97th Regional Treatment court and doing research with Dr. Amato-Henderson. Dr. Amato-Henderson says she hopes to guide Hannah through writing a manuscript to be submitted for publication. Hannah has also recently been inducted into Psi Chi (the International Honor Society in Psychology) and is also active in the Association for Psychology Students (APS). It is amazing how quickly Hannah is advancing here and she plans to continue in graduate school where she will continue working toward clinical psychology with an emphasis on judicial corrections and community health. Congratulations Hannah!

 


CLS Congratulates Thomas Offer Westort

We are happy to announce that Tom successfully defended his Master’s Thesis titled “Attitudes About Acceptable Risk in the Context of the Biodiversity Crisis” on April 12th. Crafting and enforcing conservation policy requires making normative judgements about what levels of risk are acceptable. These judgements include crucial decisions that impact which species qualify as “endangered.” If a government’s policies are going to represent the values of the public they govern, then public attitudes should be understood. Unfortunately, essentially nothing is known about public attitudes as they pertain to acceptable risk and the biodiversity crisis.

Read more about Tom’s research below.

My research aims to address this gap using data from an internet-based survey (n=1050). I focused on the Endangered Species Act of 1973 which defines an endangered species as “any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” Because a species’ risk of extinction increases with decreasing geographic range, the phrase “significant portion of its range” requires a judgement about what level of risk is acceptable. I then examined how the public’s attitudes regarding risk differs both from the guidance provided by conservationists and the practices of government agencies. I also explored the extent to which variation in attitudes could be explained by relevant knowledge, social identity, level of education, personality, moral foundations, and numeracy. I then used structural equation modeling to model the relationships between predictors.


Stockero Receives Award

Shari Stockero (CLS/Math) has been named the 2019 Mathematics Teacher Education Outstanding Reviewer by the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. Her research focuses on noticing high-potential instances of student mathematical thinking (MOSTs) and understanding what it means to productively use these instances to support student learning. Specifically, in her current work, she and her colleagues are working with a group of teacher-researchers from across the US to enact and study the teaching practice of building on MOSTs. She is also working on a project to develop middle school science teacher leaders in Michigan.  Congratulations Shari!


Amato-Henderson Elected Chair-elect of AHDP

Susan Amato-HendersonSusan Amato-Henderson, chair of the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, attended the Association of Heads of Departments of Psychology (AHDP) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia Nov. 2-3.
AHDP is a professional development organization for heads and chairs of academic departments of psychology. At this year’s meeting, Amato-Henderson was elected chair-elect, which she will hold for two years prior to then serving a two-year term as chair of AHDP.
AHDP first began with a small, informal gathering of chairs at an annual Southeastern Psychology Association meeting in 1967. The first annual meeting of AHDP was held at an Atlanta airport Dec. 5-7, 1968.
Since that time, annual AHDP meetings have been held every fall in Atlanta. The association hosts leadership training and professional development seminars at its annual meetings, where a broad range of educational concerns as well as the research and service missions common to institutions of higher education are discussed. Membership includes representatives from very large and very small departments in both private and public academies.

Stockero tops most cited articles

Shastockero-personnelri Stockero (CLS/Math) co-authored two of the most cited articles in the Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education (JMTE) and Journal for Research in Mathematics Education (JRME). According to Google Metrics,  Stockero’s article “Characterizing pivotal teaching moments in beginning mathematics teachers’ practice”, was the 9th most cited JMTE article from 2013-2017. Laura Van Zoest from Western Michigan University is co-author.

A second article, “Conceptualizing Mathematically Significant Pedagogical Opportunities to Build on Student Thinking”, was the 12th most cited JRME article for that same time period. The article was co-authored by Keith Leatham and Blake Peterson (Brigham Young University) and  Laura Van Zoest.

 


Research for Teachers Poster Session

Group of Teachers present posters on mobile chalkboards to attendeesA poster session for the Michigan Tech 2018 Research Experiences for Teachers was held from 3 to 5 p.m. yesterday (Aug. 9) in the Great Lakes Research Center Second Floor Atrium.

The poster session concludes the NSF-funded Teacher Professional Development summer institute, “Computational Tools and the Environment.”  Twelve in-service teachers were paired up with civil and environmental engineering graduate students to research topics such as water quality, lead contamination, aquaponics and renewable energy.

The results of their research have been translated into curricula for science and mathematics classes. They will present the results of their research and curriculum development at the poster session.

New Funding

Kevin TrewarthaKevin Trewartha (CLS/RICC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $455,884 research and development grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/National Institutes of Health. Shane Meuller (CLS/RICC) is the Co-PI on the project “Motor Learning as a Sensitive Behavioral Marker of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Early Alzheimer’s Disease.”

This is a three-year project.


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.

Alumni Spotlight: Chemical Kim

image4Over the past 10 years I’ve taken my love of teaching chemistry to the community and volunteer bringing hands-on learning to schools, organizations, libraries, the children’s hospital, and television science segments on ABC affiliate stations (WZZM 13 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ABC7 in Fort Myers, Florida). I present a blend of smart and entertaining hands-on science activities that motivate kids to continually question and investigate their world. My encouragement is to never stop being curious and never stop seeking the answers.

In addition, I utilize mobile technology in my teaching in the chemistry classroom, laboratory, and science outreach. I’ve authored several technology grants and have led several workshops at local colleges and schools teaching on the integration of mobile technology in the classroom.

I started into the education program at MTU as a junior as a result of two friends majoring in mathematics that convinced me to join them. I really wasn’t expecting to go into teaching. I loved chemistry and was planning on a career as a research chemist. Standing in front of a group of people was always so fearful to me. As I got farther into the education program, I started to discover how much I was enjoying my classes. It got me thinking how many college chemistry professors really don’t know how to teach. This motivated me more in the education program at MTU. I started to feel like I could be that change and teach chemistry better than it was taught to me. The education program at MTU gave me that “face your fear and find your passion” moment. I faced my fear of being in front of a group of people and found a passion that made everyday of going to work since, a joy.

My advice to current teachers is to do what you love. If you don’t find a love in your subject or in teaching it, don’t force it. The teaching world is filled with too many who complain about teaching, students, and the hard work for so little pay. Yes, the pay is little and yes, the work is hard… but if you love it, you will not regret a day of your career choice. You will make a difference to the world because you’re giving the good part of yourself, the happy part.

Always be yourself and do not teach a particular style just because that’s how you were taught. Teaching is always evolving and be ready for constant change. The best experiences you can bring to the classroom are your life experiences. Use your personality and life experiences to make the best environment for learning. In the early years of your teaching, keep learning more hands-on about your subject and education. Substitute teach, participate in research, attend workshops and seminars, become active at your school. And if you have time, volunteer in your community.

If you’re enjoying teaching, then your students are probably enjoying learning. And if your nervous, that is good because nerves means you care. The day I’m not nervous or a bit scared to go into a classroom might be the day I might be ready to retire from teaching.

To learn more, check out Chemical Kim’s social media sites: www.youtube.com/scistudiowww.chemicalkim.com


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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