Category: Research

Student Highlight: Hunter Malinowski

Reading about Hunter Malinowski, a psychology and computer science major at Michigan Tech University, it’s hard to believe a student could accomplish so much during their undergraduate studies. But what is really amazing is the fact that Hunter began her dual degree programs just two short years ago.

Starting with her first semester, Hunter was awarded third place in the Bob Mark Business Model Competition and received a MTEC SmartZone Breakout Innovation Award and honorable mention in Central Michigan University’s New Venture Challenge for her start-up idea “Recirculate – The Future of Sustainable Fashion”. (See YouTube video below where Hunter describes her waste-reduction business model.)

Utilizing what she had learned in her first-year research methods class, Hunter applied to and received a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grant from Pavlis Honors College (PHC). Each REU site receives funding from the National Science Foundation to support the research and contributions of many undergraduate students allowing students to work in a group of ten or so while conducting research at the host institution.

In her second year, Hunter continued her research work under the direction of CLS associate professor Dr. Shane Mueller after receiving a grant from Pavlis’ Undergraduate Research Internship Program (URIP). Her project, titled “Assessing the Effectiveness of the XAI Discovery Platform and Visual Explanations on User Understanding of AI Systems,” was part of the university’s 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium. This spring, Hunter was also selected by PHC as a University Innovation Fellow and, in conjunction, attended the Stanford University Hassos Plattner Institute of Design (d_school) program in March. 

Hunter also devotes time to the campus community, currently as VP of Finance for Delta Zeta and as a member of the Order of Omega Honor Society. Past positions include Vice President of Public Relations for the Panhellenic Council, and member of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) as their representative on the Well-being Advisory Board Team. Hunter’s academic achievements have earned her a place on the Dean’s list each semester as well.

We caught up with Hunter during Week 14 to find out more about her life at Michigan Tech.  

Q: Looking back, what were the deciding factors that led you to select Michigan Tech for psychology and computer science? Has your experience met or exceeded your expectations?

A: When I first toured Michigan Tech, I was solely interested in psychology. I visited the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department and was able to see all of the research labs, which was a large deciding factor for me in choosing Michigan Tech. I ended up taking a computer science class my junior year of high school, and loved it. I went on to do summer programs with Kode with Klossy, as well as the Women in Computer Science Summer Youth Program (SYP) at Michigan Tech, and that was the experience that solidified that I felt like I really belonged here. 

My experience at Michigan Tech has absolutely met my expectations; I was able to get involved in research during my first year and I love the environment that the psychology classes have. With the smaller size department, you end up knowing everyone very well and it makes classes a lot more comfortable. 

Q: What interests you about the combination of Psychology and Computer Science?

A: People are always surprised when I tell them that I’m majoring in Psychology and Computer Science because they don’t see how the two fit together. But there are so many interesting intersections between the two. First and foremost, if you know how to code and create a piece of technology, it’s not very useful if the user interface is poor. You could have a perfect technical design, but without understanding the psychology of the users, your app probably won’t get used. However, the most interesting aspect to me is artificial intelligence and its applications, which is what I plan to go into after graduating.

Q: With so many accolades over the past two years, what has been the highlight for you so far?

A: The trip to Palo Alto through University Innovation Fellows was 100% my favorite experience since being here. We attended a conference at Stanford; the campus was so beautiful and there were so many amazing speakers at the sessions I attended. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do.

Q: What are your future plans for your time remaining at Michigan Tech and when you complete your undergraduate degrees?

A: I am returning as a Ford IT intern this summer. Other than that, I think I will mostly be focusing on my classes and getting involved on campus where I can. When I complete my undergraduate degrees, I plan on staying here at Michigan Tech for one more year to complete my Accelerated Masters degree!

Q: What do you like to do in your “spare” time in the local area?

A: I love hanging out with my friends, going on adventures, and doing crafts (I love to crochet). One time, my friends and I were volunteering at Treat Street, passing out candy to local children. Afterward we decided to go and watch the sunset at Breakers Beach, which was happening in like 20 minutes. So we went in our Halloween costumes since we didn’t have time to change. That’s probably one of my favorite memories since being here. I love the Keweenaw because you’re so close to so many beautiful sights.

Q: Would you like to share any “Words of Wisdom” with high school juniors and seniors deciding on their college career?

A: I think my best advice for students making their college plans is just to do what feels right. You have so many options, and it can be hard to decide between them all, whether it’s the college you’re deciding on or what major you want to do. But at the end of the day, you know yourself best, so don’t overthink it too much. If something doesn’t feel right, you can always change it. Which is probably one of the hardest things for me because I feel like I want to do everything. And sometimes you have to admit to yourself that something isn’t working out, or else you’ll get overwhelmed.

For more information on our Psychology and Human Factors programs, and the student opportunities highlighted in this post, please contact us at cls@mtu.edu. For our latest happenings, follow us on Instagram @clsmtu or Facebook


Undergraduate Research Symposium

On Tuesday, April 19, the PSY 3001 Research Methods class hosted a poster session presenting the research they completed during the last semester as part of the course. The course instructor and research advisor for these undergraduate students is CLS associate professor Dr. Shane Mueller.

There were seven posters from 15 students in the symposium with faculty staff and students attending the event.
The abstracts for each poster is listed below the photo gallery.

Peer Evaluation Study of a Women’s Reproductive Health Course: A Synthesis of a Qualitative Study of Medical Professionals.  
Erin Brooks
The education of young women has transitioned from health and sex education to what it implies to “get your period” and how to actively avoid pregnancy (Schmitt et al., 2021). Young women have the right to be taught the basics of their reproductive system and the skills to identify and understand their own health. In an effort to combat this lack of knowledge, studies have researched the knowledge of fertility awareness in individuals and where they received their education (Chowlowska et al., 2020; Armour et al., 2021). The goal of this two part study is to identify a gap in the knowledge of young women about their reproductive health and to design a course that would educate women about the information that was not taught to them. The study was of a two part design: the first was semi-structured interviews with women’s health professionals, and,the second part was a peer evaluation of a course that addressed this gap. The results of the first study came to a conclusive identification of an educational gap on the natural signs and patterns of a woman’s cycle, including misconceptions women have held about their own bodies. The peer evaluations also held a high rate of correlation in the direction that the knowledge presented in the short course was beneficial to them as individuals. These studies helped to bring to light the knowledge gap there is in the education of young women today and where there is room for growth, providing the basis for courses for future classes.

Failure to Replicate: The Influence of Post-Event Information on Situation Recall.
Kaitlyn Baccus, Gabby Bosley and Makenna Nuttall
The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of post-event information on situational recall. We hypothesized  that when given leading post-event information after viewing a dashcam video, participants will be less likely to accurately describe and remember the event than those who are not given leading post-information. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two Google surveys with questions to assess their knowledge of a dashcam video of a car accident they watched. Questions about the accident included filler questions and one key question about car speed. The results of the data did not support our hypothesis and showed that the non-leading group reported a higher average speed than the leading group. These results encouraged us to conduct a second study, this time a within-subjects study. Four surveys were created using older car accident videos and an attention-check video of a mountain bike accident. These videos were counterbalanced with leading and non-leading questions regarding the event that occurred in the videos. The key questions were again related to the car’s speeds. The results of this study showed that there was not a significant effect of verbiage on vehicle speed estimates between the conditions.

Comparing the Perceived Effectiveness and Difficulty of Memorization Strategies in Different Age Groups.
Trenton Laramore, Abby Morley, and Samantha Walker 
Previous studies on the use of mnemonics as a study technique have found that deeper analysis and longer processing time of material will enhance memory performance (Craik & Lockhart, 1972). However, there has not been much research on the comparison of mnemonic strategies. It is hypothesized that the Story Strategy (SS) would be more effective in free recall compared to the First Letter Strategy (FLS). An online randomized questionnaire assigned participants into four groups that watched two videos testing both strategies. After recall, participants were asked to assess difficulty and effectiveness. Results show that participants recalled more words using the SS compared to the FLS and thought the SS was more effective and difficult overall. These results suggest that deeper levels of processing are linked to better performance. This study leads to further research in our second study about how age impacts perceived difficulty and strategy performance. Participants were randomly assigned into two groups and watched four videos where both strategies were tested. Participants were then instructed to recall words utilizing the strategy they were given. After recall, participants were asked to subjectively assess effectiveness, difficulty, and usefulness.  Results show that FLS was considered more difficult, while SS was considered more effective, but memory performance was not impacted by age for either strategy.  Results suggest that use of memory strategies may successfully counteract organic mild effects of memory loss as we age.

Sexual Education Comprehensiveness As It relates to Comfort and Suggested Material for Grades 6-8.  
Keighley Blindauer, Cat Madish, and Katie Ulinski  
The teaching of sexual education is currently under scrutiny by many and the value of teaching the topic is under question. Previous research has shown that students retain knowledge better when the class is comprehensive and inclusive as well as that students want that kind of instruction (Narushima et al., 2020). It is therefore the goal of study one was to discover if there is a correlation between comprehensiveness of past sexual education and comfort level when discussing sexual topics. The data showed that there was not a correlation between comprehensiveness and comfort level (Perarson’s correlation, p=0.886, p > 0.05). Despite this finding, it is the goal of the second study to suggest a new course in sexual education that is more inclusive and comprehenesive than pervious standards. To do this, current standards were compared and a new syllabus was suggested. A specific lesson plan was also suggested. Based on the first study and suggested materials, the teaching of sexual education is a constantly shifting field that needs to respond to what students learn best to.

The Perception of Self-Esteem Levels and its Effect on Mental Disorders.
– Jayden Middlecamp and Caity Weirick 
Self-esteem and mental illnesses are two things that often go together, and the presence of mental illnesses can create low self-esteem over time through feelings of anxiety, depression, and many other common mental health conditions. There is often a stigma surrounding mental illnesses in the United States that everyone who suffers from them will have low self-esteem, and those who have higher self-esteem are not as prone to developing or suffering from mental illnesses. Previous research has investigated these stigmas of mental health, as well as addressed the ways in which mental illnesses impact self-esteem. However, our interest lies in investigating whether or not levels of self-esteem (low or high) will impact someone’s perception of that individual’s mental state. Two surveys were created in order to assess this and included four different scenarios with common, easily-identifiable mental disorders. Each scenario was accompanied by statements from the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale in order to imply low or high self-esteem without directly stating it. This allowed participants to get an impression of the person in each scenario. Following up, they were asked if they believed their self-esteem impacted their mental disorder. Results of this study were computed in a paired-samples t-test, giving a result of 0.008. Since the p value is less than 0.05, the null hypothesis is rejected and the results are statistically significant, showing that participants were more likely to say that high self-esteem impacted mental disorders compared to those with low self-esteem.

Change Blindness: Recognizing Facial Change and Comparing Confidence.
Alyssa Everett & Kallie Weecks 
Past research has shown that small changes often go undetected, which introduced a phenomenon known as “change blindness.” Research has also been done to show that the brain has a specific area called the Fusiform Face Area for recognizing facial features. However, little research has addressed which parts of the face changes often go unnoticed or how confidence affects detection. Utilizing the flicker paradigm, videos were developed to test if relevant changes were more easily noticed in faces and less susceptible to change blindness. The results from Study 1 showed that there was a significant difference between big and small changes, but irrelevant and relevant changes were not statistically different. This shows that the materials used in this study were well made to have big and small changes indicating that these videos could be used for further research. Study 2 used the materials from Study 1 to compare confidence to the ability to detect changes. This was done by showing a short clip of a video and asking participants to rate their confidence in identifying a change in the longer video. This found that there was a statistically significant correlation between the confidence and the accuracy of detection. This implies there may be the ability to detect a change before identifying what the change is.

Identity Formation Among Undergraduate Engineering Students at Michigan Technological University.
Emily Grant 
Sixty percent of Michigan Technological University (MTU) students are enrolled in an engineering program. Identity within one’s career has been a researched topic for many years and it shows that there is a high correlation between one’s success in their career and how much one identifies with their career choice. Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) theorizes that an individual’s interests, choices, achievement, and satisfaction all interact with each other (Lent et al., 1994). To test and further understand this research two studies were conducted involving engineering students at MTU. These studies’ main goal was to understand and conceptualize how much identifying as an engineer can impact one’s success throughout their time at MTU as well as their success after graduating when thrust into the professional engineering world. Throughout this research, I take a look into the opinions and feelings of MTU engineering students to discover what it is that led them to pursue a degree in engineering. Using the Critical Decision Method (CDM) interview process involving 6 participants which preceded a survey/questionnaire that expands the sample size to 94 engineering students, I’ve Developed a qualitative model of students perceive themselves as engineers, whether any role models led them to this point, and finally, a sense of how MTU either supports or neglects the needs for engineering students to succeed and create a strong identity with their chosen field of engineering.

To learn about the latest in our undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research – follow us on Instagram and Facebook @clsmtu!


Kelly Steelman receives ICC Annual Achievement Award

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) has announced the winners of the ICC Annual Achievement Awards. The annual awards recognize exceptional contributions to the mission of the ICC, dedication to research and support of colleagues and students, and were awarded during the Computing[MTU] Showcase. Nominations came from individuals and ICC Centers, and previous winners convened to decide awardees. This year, awards went to Kelly Steelman (CLS), Xiaoyong (Brian) Yuan (AC/CS), and Sidike Paheding (AC/CS).

Steelman, department chair and associate professor in cognitive and learning sciences, and an affiliated associate professor in mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics and computer science, was recognized for achievements in collaborative, interdisciplinary research, and mentorship and support of junior faculty. Steelman is a member of the Center for Human-Centered Computing in the ICC.

Yuan, an assistant professor in applied computing and computer science, was awarded for achievements in research in heterogeneous architectures for collaborative machine learning. Yuan is a member of the Cybersecurity Center in the ICC.

Paheding, an assistant professor in applied computing and computer science, was recognized for achievements in research in out-of-this-world deep learning and cybersecurity. Paheding is a member of the Data Science Center in the ICC.

Recordings and slides from Computing[MTU] Showcase workshops and sessions can be found on the ICC website.


ACSHF Forum: Grad Student Presentations

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host ACSHF PhD Students Tauseef Ibne Mamun and Brittany Nelson at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum. Their presentations will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (April 18) in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Tauseef Ibne Mamun
Connected Vehicle Field Study: Outcomes and Challenges
Abstract: Poor driver decision-making continues to be a challenge at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings (HRGC). One way to improve safety has been to introduce a new, in-vehicle warning system that communicates with the external HRGC warning systems. The system gives drivers different rail-crossing-related warnings (e.g., approaching crossing, train presence) depending on the vehicle location. In a rare field study, 15 experienced drivers drove a connected vehicle (Chevy Volt) and used the warning system on a 12-mile loop, then completed a semi-structured interview and usability survey. Results from the post-drive survey and interview are reported and provide a template for future usability assessments for field studies involving new technologies.

Brittany Nelson
Identifying Healthy Lifestyle Knowledge Gaps Among Medical and Non-medical Students
Abstract: Across the US, chronic illnesses including cancer and cardiovascular disease are a result of poor lifestyle decisions such as diet, tobacco/alcohol use, and physical inactivity. Data suggests that previous interventions lack effectiveness for impacting lifestyle decisions, particularly long term. One reason why individuals continue to engage in unhealthy behaviors may be due to gaps in understanding that are not currently filled by previously developed interventions. To the extent individuals are informed of the risks/benefits of key health behaviors and the tools valuable for overcoming challenges associated with engaging/quitting those behaviors then people are more equipped to make decisions that are in-line with their goals and values. Little information exists on what informational gaps people hold. Therefore, the objective of this study was two-fold. First, it was designed to measure how calibrated medical and non-medical students are on the relation between lifestyle behaviors and their risk of major diseases. Second, this study was designed to identify informational gaps that impact perceived challenges of engaging in healthier lifestyle behaviors. Data from medical (N = 128) and non-medical (N = 24) students suggests they hold insufficient knowledge regarding the relation between lifestyle behaviors and risk of health outcomes. The most commonly reported barriers across non-dietary behaviors were time 39%, lack of motivation 15%, and weather 9%. The most commonly reported barriers specific to eating behaviors were cost 26%, taste 21%, and food spoiling too quickly 10%. The results from this study have implications for future intervention design.


Shruti Amre receives “Best Poster” in first Computing[MTU] Showcase

Michigan Tech’s College of Computing and the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) co-hosted the first Computing[MTU] Showcase on April 4-6, 2022. Organizers say the showcase was intended to be a connection-maker on many levels, including undergraduate and graduate students presenting their most exciting innovations and current research.

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS) was proud to have nine of the 40 entries in the Showcase’s research poster competition come from CLS students. With “Best Poster” going to Shruti Amre, ACSHF PhD student, for “Keep your hands on the wheel: the effect of driver engagement strategy on change detection, mind wandering, and gaze behavior”. Shruti is advised by Dr. Kelly Steelman.

Amre’s winning research poster

A few details on the research

Advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) have revolutionized traditional driving by enabling drivers to relinquish operational control of the vehicle to automation for part of the total drive. These features only work under certain pre-defined conditions and require drivers to be attentive of their surroundings. While the features are engaged, there is an increased risk associated with drivers losing awareness of their environment. Popular manufacturers like Tesla requires drivers to have their hands-on-the-wheel while Cadillac’s ADAS requires drivers to keep their eyes-on-the road. We utilized a low-fidelity simulation and eye tracking to examine the effects of hands-on-the wheel and eyes-on-the road driver engagement strategies on change detection, mind wandering, and gaze behavior in a semi-autonomous driving task.


The showcase also hosted more than 20 speakers, including counterterrorism, health informatics, machine learning and security experts from companies and institutions ranging from Adobe, Amazon and Microsoft to the National Counterterrorism Center, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense.


Faculty Research Talk by Kevin Trewartha

Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging

Research talk by Dr. Kevin Trewartha

Dr. Kevin Trewartha, associate professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS) and Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP), will present a talk on cognitive neuroscience of aging, Friday, April 15, 2022, at 3:00 pm, in Rekhi Hall Room G005. The lecture can also be attended virtually on Zoom. For more information on Dr. Trewartha’s research, visit his Aging Cognition Action Lab.

Dr. Hongyu An, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will also present. Dr. An’s research interests include neuromorphic engineering/computing, energy-efficient neuromorphic electronic circuit design for Artificial Intelligence, emerging nanoscale device design, and spiking neural networks. Visit Dr. An’s faculty webpage.

The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Computer Science.


ACSHF Forum: Grad Student Presentation

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host ACSHF PhD Student Shruti Amre at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum. The presentation, “Keep Your Hands on the Wheel: The Effect of Driver Engagement Strategies on Change Detection, Mind Wandering, and Gaze Behavior”, will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (April 4) in Meese 109.

Abstract: Advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) have revolutionized traditional driving by enabling drivers to relinquish operational control of the vehicle to automation for part of the total drive. These features only work under certain pre-defined conditions and require drivers to be attentive to their surroundings. While the features are engaged, there is an increased risk associated with drivers losing awareness of their environment. Popular manufacturers like Tesla requires drivers to have their hands-on-the-wheel while Cadillac’s ADAS requires drivers to keep their eyes-on-the road. We utilized a low-fidelity simulation and eye-tracking to examine the effects of hands-on-the-wheel and eyes-on-the-road driver engagement strategies on change detection, mind wandering, and gaze behavior in a semi-autonomous driving task.


Graduate Research Colloquium, 2022

Each spring, Michigan Tech’s Graduate Student Government sponsors the Graduate Research Colloquium (GRC) Poster & Presentation Competition. The GRC is a unique opportunity for current graduate students to share their research with the University community and to gain experience in presenting that research to colleagues. During this year’s GRC a virtual mock conference will be set-up where presenters are broken down into various technical sessions, ranging from Advances in Modern Medicine and Health to Power and Energy, and everything in between.

Five Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) students will be competing in this year’s event on March 29-30.

Lamia Alam

Assessing Cognitive Empathy Elements within the Context of Diagnostic AI Chatbots

Empathy is an important element for any social relationship and it is also very important in patient-physician communication for ensuring the quality of care. There are many aspects and dimensions of empathy applicable in such communication. As Artificial Intelligence is being heavily deployed in healthcare, it is critical that there is a shared understanding between patients and the AI systems if patients are directly interacting with those systems. But many of the emotional aspects of empathy may not be achievable by AI systems at present and cognitive empathy is the one that can genuinely be implemented through artificial intelligence in healthcare. We need a better understanding of the elements of cognitive empathy and how these elements can be utilized effectively. In this research, the goal was to investigate whether empathy elements actually make a difference to improve user perception of AI empathy. We developed a scale “AI Cognitive Empathy Scale (AICES)” for that purpose and conducted a study where the experimental condition had both emotional and cognitive empathy elements together. The AICES scale demonstrated reasonable consistency, reliability, and validity, and overall, empathy elements improve the perceived empathy concern within diagnostic AI chatbots.

Betsy Lehman

Easy Does It: Ease of Generating Alternative Explanations As A Mediator Of Counterfactual Reasoning In Ambiguous Social Judgments

According to sensemaking theory (Klein et al., 2007), people must first question their theory of a situation before they can shift their perspective. Questioning one’s perspective may be critical in many situations, such as taking action against climate change, improving diversity and equity at work, or promoting vaccine adoption. However, research on how people question their theories is limited. Using counterfactual theory (Roese & Olson, 1995), we examined several factors and strategies affecting this part of the sensemaking process. Eighty participants generated explanations and predicted outcomes in five ambiguous social situations. Likelihood of an alternative outcome was the measure for questioning one’s frame. Two models of the data were created. Using path analysis, we compared fit between a base model (i.e., ease, malleable factors, and missing information) and a model based on counterfactual generation theory with ease as a mediator. Results indicated that the counterfactual theory model fit was better, indicating that ease of generation may be a critical mediator in the sensemaking process. This work contributes to research focused on understanding of the mechanisms of perspective shifts to support applications for system design and training, such as programs to reduce implicit bias.

Anne Linja

Examining Explicit Rule Learning in Cognitive Tutorials: Training learners to predict machine classification

Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) systems are becoming more commonplace and relied upon in our daily lives. Decisions made by AI/ML systems guide our lives. For example, these systems might decide whether we get a loan, and the full-self driving car we’re sharing the road with even makes decisions. However, we may not be able to predict, or even know whether, or when these systems might make a mistake. Many Explainable AI (XAI) approaches have developed algorithms to give users a glimpse of the logic a system uses to come up with its output. However, increasing the transparency alone may not help users to predict the system’s decisions even though users are aware of the underlying mechanisms. One possible approach is Cognitive Tutorials for AI (CTAI; Mueller et al., 2021), which is an experiential method used to teach conditions under which the AI/ML system will succeed or fail. One specific CTAI technique involved teaching simple rules that could be used to predict performance; this was referred to as Rule Learning. This technique aims to identify rules that can help the user learn when the AI/ML system succeeds, the system’s boundary conditions, and what types of differences change the output of the AI system. To evaluate this method, I will report on a series of experiments in which we compared different rule learning approaches to find the most effective way to train users on these systems. Using the MNIST data set, this includes showing positive and negative examples in comparison to providing explicit descriptions of rules that can be used to predict the system’s output. Results suggest that although examples help people learn the rules, tutorials that provided explicit rule learning and provided direct example-based practice with feedback led people to best predict correct and incorrect classifications of an AI/ML system.

Tauseef Ibne Mamun

Connected Crossings: Examining Human Factors in a Field Study

Poor driver decision-making continues to be a challenge at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings (HRGC). One way to improve safety has been to introduce a new, in-vehicle warning system that communicates with the external HRGC warning systems. The system gives drivers different rail-crossing-related warnings (e.g., approaching crossing, train presence) depending on the vehicle location. In a rare field study, 15 experienced drivers drove a connected vehicle (Chevy Volt) and used the warning system on a 12-mile loop, then completed a semi-structured interview and usability survey. Results from the post-drive survey and interview are reported and provide a template for future usability assessments for field studies involving new technologies.

Lauren Monroe

Don’t throw a tempo tantrum: the effects of varying music tempo on vigilance performance and effective state

Vigilance tasks, or sustained attention tasks, involve an operator monitoring an environment for infrequent and random critical signals buried among more frequent neutral signals for an extended period of time. In addition to an observable decline in task engagement, task performance, and arousal over time, these tasks are also related to an increased subjective workload. Previously, music has been shown to have a positive impact on operator engagement and reaction times during sustained attention, however the differences between fast and slow tempo music on vigilance performance and subjective mood measures have not been studied. The present study (N=50) examined the effects of music played at different tempos on a selection of performance metrics and subjective measures of mood, engagement, and workload. Results indicated that varying the tempo of music did not have an effect on the decline in the correct detection of critical signals. There also was not a significant impact on measures of arousal and stress, but the fast tempo condition had a slightly positive impact on worry and engagement from pre to post task subjective measures.

For more information on our student and faculty research see: https://www.mtu.edu/cls/research/


Undergraduate Research Symposium, 2022

Emilie Jacques


Hunter Malinowski

The tenth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) took place on Friday, March 25, 2022, in the Rozsa Lobby. The Symposium highlighted the cutting-edge research conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduates. The students represented a wide array of scientific and engineering disciplines from across campus and highlighted the diversity of research areas being explored.

UG psychology students Hunter Malinowski (CS dual major) and Emilie Jacques were among this year’s URS participants. Hunter presented her research with advisor Dr. Shane Mueller in “Assessing the Effectiveness of the XAI Discovery Platform and Visual Explanations on User Understanding of AI Systems”. Emilie presented her research with advisor Dr. Susie Amato-Henderson in “The Immediate Effects of Mindfulness on Test Anxiety”. Both students were recipients of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).

Congratulations to all participants!


Human Factors in Healthcare Keynote: Dr. Rupa Valdez presents “Creating Systems That Promote Equity: A Journey Across Disciplines”

Please join us Friday (Mar 25) in ATDC conference room 101 (and via Zoom); talk from 3:30-4:30, with interactive discussion to follow from 4:30-5:00.

Dr. Rupa Valdez is an associate professor at the University of Virginia with joint appointments in the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is also a core faculty member of Global Studies and the Disability Studies Initiative. Dr. Valdez merges the disciplines of human factors engineering, health informatics, and cultural anthropology to understand and support the ways in which people manage health at home and in the community.

We encourage faculty and graduate students with any overlap in research, interest in collaboration, or just interest in learning more about Dr. Valdez’s work/journey/activism to join us!

This event is co-sponsored by CLS, KIP, and CSA, and is sponsored in part by the Michigan Tech Visiting Professor Program, which is funded by a grant to the Office of the Provost from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative. Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer that provides equal opportunity for all, including protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Abstract:
Catalyzed by the pandemic and by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many
others, there is rapidly growing interest in determining how we can create sociotechnical
systems that promote equity rather than perpetuate disparity and injustice. In this talk, I share
and critically reflect on my journey toward this goal over the last decade. I begin with earlier
efforts to merge approaches from cultural anthropology and engineering to inform the design
of patient-facing health information technologies. I end with more recent community-based
participatory research and policy-based efforts to reimagine public health education, accessible
healthcare, and the role of community in shaping the research process.  My engagement with
historically marginalized communities has pushed my efforts from a primary focus on creating
technologies aligned with the contexts in which such communities are embedded to a broader
focus on working with communities to shift these contexts. In concluding remarks, I reflect on
how encouraging such work requires, at minimum, embracing a broader conceptualization of
engineering and, more ambitiously, work that may be considered a-disciplinary.

BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Rupa Valdez is an associate professor at the University of Virginia with
joint appointments in the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering
and Applied Sciences. She is also a core faculty member of Global Studies and the Disability
Studies Initiative. Dr. Valdez merges the disciplines of human factors engineering, health
informatics, and cultural anthropology to understand and support the ways in which people
manage health at home and in the community. Her research and teaching focuses on
underserved populations, including populations that are racial/ethnic minorities, are of low
socioeconomic status, or are living with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Her work
draws heavily on community engagement and has been supported by the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Science
Foundation (NSF), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), among others. She recently
testified before Congress on the topic of health equity for the disability community and
received the Jack A. Kraft Innovator Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
(HFES) for her pioneering work in creating and developing the subdiscipline of patient
ergonomics.
Dr. Valdez currently serves as an Associate Editor for Ergonomics, the Journal of American
Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) Open, and Human Factors in Healthcare. Among other
appointments, she serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of People with
Disabilities and on PCORI’s Patient Engagement Advisory Panel. She is further the
founder and president of Blue Trunk Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to
making it easier for people with chronic health conditions, disabilities, and
age-related conditions to travel. Dr. Valdez herself lives with multiple chronic health
conditions and disabilities, which have and continue to influence her work and advocacy.