Category: Research

Researching the Implications of Multitasking

Multitasking has become a common practice in many work environments, where individuals are required to perform several tasks simultaneously. However, research suggests that multitasking can lead to interference and a decline in cognitive performance. In a recent journal article published in Applied Ergonomics, a research team including CLS’s Samantha Smith studied the complexity of multitasking and its impact on cognitive performance1. The article titled “Dual-task effects between tone counting and mathematical calculations” sheds light on the factors that contribute to dual-task interference and provides valuable insights for understanding the challenges associated with multitasking.

Understanding Dual-Task Interference

Psychologists have proposed various theories to explain dual-task interference, including unitary cognitive resource theory and multiple cognitive resource theories. Among these, Wickens’ multiple resource theory (MRT) is frequently referenced by human factors and ergonomics professionals. According to MRT, tasks compete for our brain’s attention based on four factors: the processing stage (i.e., are we perceiving information, thinking about it, or responding to it?), whether the task is spatial or verbal, the senses required (i.e., is the task visual, tactile, or audial?), and if it’s a visual task, whether it requires our focal or ambient vision. 

Research Findings

In this study, the research team paired a seated mathematical calculation task with the tone counting task to explore the impact of dual-tasking and cognitive load on performance. The results of the study indicated that participants made significantly more correct calculations in the single-task condition compared to the dual-task conditions. Furthermore, participants performed better in the one-frequency tone counting task compared to the three-frequency tone counting task. These findings suggest that both dual-tasking and cognitive load have a detrimental effect on cognitive performance, with higher cognitive load leading to reduced accuracy in calculations.

Implications for Multitasking

The findings from this study have important implications for understanding multitasking in various work settings. In operational settings where dual-tasking is common, individuals may experience interference and performance loss in one or both tasks. This knowledge can inform the design of work environments and the allocation of tasks to minimize dual-task interference and optimize performance.

Additionally, the study emphasizes the importance of task prioritization and overall task demand when examining dual-tasking. Certain tasks, such as climbing, may inherently demand more attention due to their physical riskiness, leading to task prioritization and potential interference with paired tasks. Understanding the cognitive demands of different tasks can help professionals identify tasks that may be more prone to interference and develop strategies to mitigate the negative effects.

The article is now available for online viewing and download at  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000368702300090X.1 Blakely, Megan & Smith, Samantha & Russell, Paul & Helton, William. (2023). Dual-task effects between tone counting and mathematical calculations. Applied Ergonomics. 111. 104052. 10.1016/j.apergo.2023.104052.

SPEAK Resilience receives Curriculum Innovation Award

The Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience (ISR) has recently announced the Spring 2023 awardees for Curriculum Innovation. The awards, ranging from $5,000 to $7,000, will fund three diverse projects that align with Michigan Tech’s mission to bring long-lasting changes in educational offerings. One of the three projects awarded was SPEAK Resilience (Sustainability, Psychology, Ecology, Arts, Kultur), with principal investigators Lisa Gordillo (VPA), Tara Bal (CFRES), and Sam Smith (CLS). 

SPEAK Resilience will be an interdisciplinary sustainability program for Michigan Tech students to study in Björkö-Arholma, Sweden. The program will include a collection of four courses: one each in psychology, ecology, and the arts; and one interdisciplinary course team-taught by the faculty co-PIs. The co-PIs will develop a program that draws on each of their specialties to create immersive, interdisciplinary curricula. 

The theme of interdependence between humans and the natural world will be incorporated into each course, viewed through various lenses to tackle sustainability, resilience, and community engagement. This approach will provide a comprehensive and interdisciplinary field experience.

Students will learn about natural resource management and sustainable ways to interact with local ecosystems; ways that cognitive processing may predispose unsustainable behaviors and how to change them; and ways that art and educational interventions can enhance community engagement with environmental stewardship. The program’s themes will be enriched by the unique perspectives offered by Swedish culture, which is of significant importance to the overall experience.

Research behind the Curriculum

Co-PI Lisa Gordillo is the artist-in-residence for Michigan Tech’s College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences, and was an artist-in-residence in Björkö-Arholma, Sweden in 2022. During that time, she established partnerships with Swedish schools, communities, and arts organizations such as Väddö Folkhögskola and Björkö Kunstnod. These partners will collaborate to develop community projects related to sustainability during the program. 

Gordillo’s research uses art to connect people and landscape, and to create community engagement opportunities. Co-PI Tara Bal‘s research on forest health, which involves investigating the effects of human activity on forest landscapes, and aligns with the program’s theme of interdependence between humans and the natural world. Co-PI Samantha Smith is examining the impact of environmental factors on attention and cognitive processing, as well as how these factors influence human behavior.

Lisa Gordillo
Lisa Gordillo, Associate Professor, Visual and Performing Arts

SPEAK Resilience is part of Gordillo’s larger community-arts project, Sister Forests, which connects the forests of Björkö-Arholma Sweden with those of the Keweenaw. The innovative program SPEAK Resilience will provide students with invaluable experiences to understand and address sustainability issues, resilience, and community engagement through different perspectives.

Human Factors and Environmental Cleaning in Operating Rooms

Dr. Lamia Alam, 22′ PhD Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) was this week’s guest on the podcast “Infection Controls Matters; Discussions on Infection Prevention” with Martin Kiernan. Dr. Alam’s research was part of the 2023 Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Spring Conference in Seattle, WA. Lamia presented the work of her research group at Johns Hopkins titled “Environmental Cleaning in Operating Rooms: A Systematic Review of Human Factors Relating to Cleaning in the Operating Room”.

Podcast guest, CLS alum Dr. Lamia Alam

Lamia received her doctoral degree in ACSHF, fall 2022, under the direction of Dr. Shane Mueller. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.

The SHEA conference is designed for physicians, infection preventionists, healthcare epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, microbiologists, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals interested in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, surveillance, research methods, patient safety, environmental issues and quality improvement.


Relevant papers: 1. A. Xie, et al. 2018 Improving Daily Patient Room Cleaning: An Observational Study Using a Human Factors and Systems Engineering Approach IISE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors 6 3-4 178-191 https://10.1080/24725838.2018.1487348

2. C. Rock, et al. 2016 Using a Human Factors Engineering Approach to Improve Patient Room Cleaning and Disinfection Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 37 12 1502-1506 https://10.1017/ice.2016.219

CLS Announces 2023 Student Awards

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences is pleased to announce its Outstanding Student Awards for academic year 2022-23. Starting off with the top research project team selected by our graduate student and faculty judges at the annual CLS Research Symposium held on Tuesday, April 18. Kyla Richardson, Sara Gelon, and Jane Sinclair made up the winning team for their project “Crowd Forming Observations at Michigan Tech”.

The team designed an observational study in order to look at the impacts of social conformity and curiosity. Their study was to determine the motivations behind crowd formation – Do crowds gather due to social conformity, or is curiosity the underlying motivator? For full abstract, along with all other projects presented at the symposium, see https://bit.ly/3MSblRJ

In addition, the following undergraduate student awards were presented by CLS chair Dr. Kelly Steelman:

Mercy Barikor: Undergraduate Research Award

This award is presented to a student who demonstrates excellence in research conducted in support of an undergraduate studies or project carried out under the guidance of a CLS faculty member or approved mentor. Mercy joined the research team of Dr. Lorelle Meadows in September 2022, working on an NSF grant-funded social psychology laboratory-based project focused on the influence of subtle bias on undergraduate students in STEM.

In her nomination, Dr. Meadows wrote: “What has most impressed me about Mercy is her keen interest in her work and the way that she consistently builds bridges between the things she is learning through the research and the things that she is learning in her courses. She often brings resources from her courses to our team meetings and shares them with the team, offering us new ways to think about the work and new ideas for future directions.”

Kallie Weecks: Outstanding Clinical Intern of the Year

This award recognizes a psychology or human factors undergraduate student who has made a positive impact on their community through experiential education opportunities. Kallie interned with the Copper Country Intermediate School District for fall 2022, completing 140 hours and assisted school psychologist Christine Etter twice a week. In her nomination, Etter stated: “Kallie was a tremendous asset to the students of Copper Country and has made a positive impact on our school system, the families in the Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw counties, and the staff at the ISD.”

Ani Schneiderhan: Outstanding First-Year Student

This award is presented to an outstanding first-year psychology and/or human factors student who has demonstrated academic excellence in their first year by academic achievement, exemplary character, leadership in class and activities, and potential for success in future endeavors. Dr. Steelman stated: “Not only has Ani achieved stellar classroom grades, but she’s already well known in the department by the way she contributes in the classroom discussions and activities. She has also been a good steward to the department by helping with our postcard writing campaign to leading scholars and accepted students for Fall 2023 and helped with the CSA Hang out / Texting Nights.”

Hunter Malinowski: 2023 CLS Department Scholar

This award represents the best of student scholarship in the department including participation in research and scholarly activities, high level of intellectual curiosity and creativity, and exceptional communication skills.

In her nomination, Dr. Beth Veinott stated “Hunter is one of the most motivated and intellectually curious students I have taught in the department. She has done excellent work and made the classroom a more engaging experience for other students.”

Dr. Steelman went on to say: Hunter has thrived in her courses, earning a 4.0 department GPA and making the Dean’s list in 2020, 2021, and 2022. She also earned department distinctions as Top or Outstanding Student in numerous psychology and human factors courses. Moreover, Hunter has taken full advantage of the Michigan Tech experience through her involvement in research, Pavlis Honors college, and student organizations.

Her research experience has involved three major projects. During the standard PSY 3000/3001 coursework, Hunter conducted a research project that combined her interests in psychology and computer science by testing and evaluating a scale about AI and machine learning understanding. Following that, she contributed to a number of research projects with Dr. Shane Mueller on human-AI interaction and explainable AI. Hunter co-authored a Human Factors and Ergonomics Society proceedings paper based on the results of this work, which contributed to a larger project funded by DARPA. She was then supported through the URIP program to explore how different XAI feature visualization approaches interacted with example-based explanations–two distinct and popular forms of algorithmic explanation of AI that have not been fully combined.

Since stepping foot on campus in Fall 2020, Hunter has sought out opportunities to innovate. During her first year she entered the Bob Mark Pitch Competition, taking 3rd place and receiving the MTEC Breakout Innovation Award. The next year, she was selected as one of Michigan Tech’s University Innovation Fellows and completed a design thinking program through the Stanford d.school.

Hunter is an engaged campus leader. She has served as the President of both Delta Zeta Sorority and Tiny Knitz, an organization that helps students learn knitting and crocheting skills partners with local non-profit organizations to provide apparel for newborns in the Keweenaw community. Hunter’s accomplishments extend beyond the CLS department and campus. She completed two internships with Ford Motor Company and received the award for Most Viable and Top Achiever in their 2022 Intern Innovation Challenges.

Graduate Student Recognition

To wrap up the awards celebration, Dr. Steelman also recognized Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) graduate students who earned fellowships and honors over the past year.

  • Alexandra Watral: Doctoral Finishing Fellowship for Spring 2023 and CLS Outstanding Scholarship Award Recipient from the Graduate School
  • Brittany Nelson: King-Chávez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship, Spring 2022 to Summer 2023
  • Anne Linja and Tauseef Mamun: Third Place in Computing [MTU] Showcase, Fall 2022
  • Betsy Lehman: Scholarship award for Summer Institute for Social and Personality Psychology
  • Shruti Amre: Doctoral Finishing Fellowship for Summer 2023

The CLS faculty and staff congratulates all our undergraduate and graduate students for their many accomplishments during the 2022-23 academic year!


2023 CLS Undergraduate Research Symposium

Please join us for the 2023 CLS Undergraduate Research Symposium on Tuesday 4/18  at 3:45-5:00pm in room 110 of the Harold Meese Center. This poster session will feature research conducted by our undergraduates students enrolled in PSY 3001 Research Methods.

Some of the highlights of this symposium include research that:

– Examines thinking styles and strategies for different problem-solving tasks.

– Tests whether the anchoring and adjustment heuristic can be influenced by people’s knowledge.

– Examines whether pets can make us smarter, or at least help us feel less impacted by academic stress.

–  Investigates how students were impacted by  the pandemic and MTUs COVID-19 policies and response.

–  Studies the bystander response to flashmob behavior on campus. 

The full list of presentations/abstracts is here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FVn-7D-znXYIr85EbL5AY21aGcfy3HpB/edit


Michigan Tech’s Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences offers bachelor of science degrees in Psychology and Human Factors, along with a Minor in Psychology. We also offer an Accelerated Masters degree in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF), which typically requires only one additional year of course work. Our graduate program includes masters and doctoral degrees in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF).

Questions? Contact us at cls@mtu.edu. And follow us @clsmtu on Instagram and Facebook for the latest happenings.

Call for Applications: 2023 Songer Research Award for Human Health

Undergrad students working with Dr. Kevin Trewartha in his Aging and Cognition Lab
Undergraduate students working with Dr. Kevin Trewartha in his Aging, Cognition, and Action Lab

Funding Opportunity for Student Research

Undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences are encouraged to apply for the 2023 Songer Research Award for Human Health. Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) established these awards to stimulate and encourage opportunities for original research by current Michigan Tech students.

Students may propose an innovative medically-oriented research project in any area of human health. The best projects will demonstrate the potential to have a broad impact on improving human life. This research will be pursued in consultation with faculty members within the College of Sciences and Arts. The Songers’ gift and matching funds from the College will support two awards for undergraduate research ($4,000) and two for graduate research ($6,000), for research conducted over the Summer of 2023 and/or the following academic year.

Learn more about who is eligible to apply, how to apply, and how the funds may be used.

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 24, 2023. Applications may be emailed to djhemmer@mtu.edu. Any questions may be directed to David Hemmer (djhemmer@mtu.edu).

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: Tauseef Ibne Mamun and Erin Matas, both ACSHF graduate students. Their presentations will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (April 17) in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Mamun will present  “The Use of Social Forums to Train Users about Shortcomings of Tesla Full Self-driving (FSD)

Abstract: In the past decade, consumer adoption of commercial semi-autonomous vehicles has increased, and along with it user concerns about shortcomings of these systems, especially regarding safety. Users often turn to social media forums to discuss these shortcomings, find workarounds, and confirm their experience is common. We suggest that these forums may provide some of the best training for users to understand the limitations of AI, as they are not controlled by the vendor who has a vested interest in hiding the limitations of their systems. In two laboratory experiments, we examined how information from Tesla FSD forums impact participants’ ability to detect and predict hazardous driving situations in simulated scenarios. Drivers who received the training were better at anticipating and recognizing dangerous driving conditions, suggesting that exposure to user-generated explanations of the shortcomings of the system may in fact improve safety and acceptance of the systems.

Matas will present “Practicum Project: Leadership Program Evaluation Using Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA)

Abstract: The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Leadership Fellows Program is designed to prepare emerging library leaders for senior-level positions in research libraries and other types of organizations. Erin Matas is a 2021-2022 cohort Fellow. For her ACSHF practicum project, Erin used Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) methods to identify areas where improvement is needed for the leadership program’s training and development. The Leadership Fellows program has a year-long curriculum that targets different learning topics each month. Using human factors methods, Erin analyzed challenges in the Fellows’ current jobs and compared them with the topics covered in the program to determine if there are any training gaps. Erin interviewed 7 Fellows using CTA to identify cognitively complex aspects of their work and systematically analyzed the data. She developed task diagrams from each interview, identified themes, and presents results in a concept map. To round out the project, Erin will deliver the concept map and an executive summary report of her findings and recommendations regarding training to the Director of the ARL Leadership Fellows Program. The Program Director will include the recommendations in the final assessment of the program for the year to the ARL executive leadership team. Did CTA techniques identify overlooked training topics, pinpoint where more support is needed, and/or reinforce the strength of the current curriculum? Find out on April 17th at the ACSHF Forum!

Betsy Lehman receives SISPP Fellowship

ACSHF PhD student Betsy Lehman has been awarded a Summer Institute for Social and Personality Psychology (SISPP) fellowship. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology offers a biannual two-week intensive summer experience for up to 100 pre-doctoral students in social and personality psychology.

SISPP typically offers five courses, in dual-instructor format, led by top researchers and teachers in the field. The program also offers two unique workshops, exposing participants to current and important data analytic techniques and research methodologies.

The submission was very extensive with only 100 applicants awarded.

“I am excited to attend the Summer Institute for Social and Personality Psychology training program at Ohio State University. I’m looking forward to sharing my dissertation research on social judgment and debiasing through better sensemaking and learning from leading experts and fellow graduate students. This experience will inform both my research and my work with the NSF-funded Advance program at Michigan Tech.” – Betsy Lehman, ACSHF PhD student

SISPP 2023 will be held at Ohio State University in July. This will be the first time the program has been conducted since 2019 due to pandemic restrictions in 2021.

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: Katrina Carlson and Brittany Nelson, both ACSHF graduate students. Their presentations will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (April 3) in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Carlson will present ” Engineering Self-efficacy and Spatial Skills: A two-part study”

Abstract:

The research team behind previous work on the increased academic and retention outcomes of students who have taken a Spatial Visualization Intervention course at MTU postulates that affective changes within the students as a result of the course may be responsible for downstream academic success. One possible explanation may be related to the students’ confidence in their ability (self-efficacy) to gain the skills needed to become an engineer.  Extensive research has been conducted on self-efficacy, and academic self-efficacy has been shown to be significantly correlated with academic performance.

The first part of this study examines the general and engineering self-efficacy of students at the beginning and end of the Spatial Skills Intervention course, Spring 2023 (N= 9), and compares these to students at the beginning and end of a first year engineering class. One hundred sixty-eight students completed general and engineering self-efficacy surveys. The General Self-Efficacy Scale was used; this tool was developed from longer scales and was found to be a reliable and valid measure of overall self-efficacy and not a specific skill area.  The Assessment of Engineering Self-Efficacy V3.0 for undergraduate engineering students  was also used. Items on this measure are related to predictions of future academic ability and their sense of belonging in engineering and STEM classes.

The second part of this study will examine students’ visual and spatial perception, memory, and skills through a battery of tasks using the PEBL Platform.  Previous research has examined the development of spatial skills and the resulting increase in problem-solving skills across domains that require spatial reasoning.  Research has also been conducted to examine whether spatial visualization, the ability to mentally maneuver 2D and 3D objects, is a single ability or is composed of more than one skill or ability. Participants (N=80) will include both Intro to Psychology students, who will also take the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test with Rotations (PSVT:R) as a part of this battery, and first year engineering students.This part of the study will examine the relationships between students’ visual and spatial skills, drawing skills (engineering students only), and their PSVT:R scores and seeks to examine a possible taxonomy of spatial skills.  This battery may serve as a reliable and valid assessment in the future of student skills at the high school and/or college level to indicate a need for additional instruction and practice of skills. There may be applications of these findings in other fields and for other purposes, such as geography, computing education, and military use.

Nelson will present “Title: Preliminary Evaluation for an Educational Intervention: Insights from a Usability Survey”

Abstract: 

Increasing whole grain intake can reduce the risk of chronic health conditions such as cancer and heart disease. However, people continue to make poor dietary health decisions, and the life expectancy for Americans is declining. Therefore, a novel intervention is needed to boost informed dietary decision-making. This study aimed to (1) provide preliminary evidence on the effectiveness, enjoyment, and efficiency of a novel intervention and (2) identify practices for making scientific information more usable. The study used a self-report online survey. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected to test the effectiveness, enjoyment, and efficiency of the educational intervention and how to improve it. Results suggest that the intervention is effective at increasing informed preventative decision-making. One hundred percent of participants showed adequate gist understanding across the four knowledge domains: habit gist understanding, whole-grain gist understanding, gist understanding of benefits, and gist understanding of susceptibility and severity. The results also revealed several strategies for increasing the usability of other educational interventions for a student sample demographic: increase/incorporate graphs, data, and references to increase the trustworthiness of an intervention. These results suggest that an educational video intervention effectively increases informed decision-making for preventative behaviors. These findings are also valuable for future intervention development and testing, making this proposal the next step for preventative care.

ACSHF represented at Graduate Research Colloquium

Each spring, Michigan Tech’s Graduate Student Government sponsors the Graduate Research Colloquium (GRC) Poster and Presentation Competition. The GRC offers a unique opportunity for graduate students to showcase their research with the University community and work on their presentation skills for other professional events. Students give oral presentations, present posters, or do both. Judges from a similar field as the presenters score the presentations. The judges also provide valuable insight and feedback on how the students can improve their presentations. The presenters are grouped into different technical sessions, according to their discipline of study.

Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) PhD students Anne Inger Mortvedt, Isaac Flint, and Lauren Sprague will give their oral presentations at 1:00pm Wednesday, March 29 in the MUB Alumni Lounge. Lauren will also participate in the poster presentations from 5:00-6:00pm in the Rozsa Lobby, along with ACSHF MS student Nishat Binte Alam.

See abstracts below for more details regarding their research.

Anne Inger Mortvedt
Anne Inger Mørtvedt 

Relationship between Program Usability Characteristics and Intention to Use: Preliminary Data Implementing a Sport Injury Prevention Program by Anne Inger Mortvedt.

Adherence to exercise programs is low across multiple populations. For example, within the target population for ACL injuries, only ~4-20 % of sports teams have implemented evidence-based injury prevention programs. This study explored the relationship between usability characteristics and implementation likelihood for a newly developed ACL injury prevention program.
Twenty-two female handball players, aged 14 to 16, participated in the intervention study. Data on usability characteristics was collected through a modified usability scale similar to the System Usability Scale. Subcomponents of the usability scale included learnability, perceived effectiveness, ease of use, enjoyability and efficiency. Analyses on the total usability scale score revealed a significant difference between pre and post intervention responses, indicating that overall usability decreased over time (p < 0.005). Enjoyability was the subcomponent that primarily drove this change.
Total scale scores were significantly correlated with intention to use/implementation likelihood (Spearman’s rho .54, p = .009). Perceived effectiveness and enjoyability were significantly correlated with intention to use the program (rho 0.50, p = 0.02 and rho 0.50, p= 0.02, respectively), indicating that program adherence is affected by whether they believe the program will work (e.g., reduce injuries) and whether they enjoy performing the program. We did not find any significant relationships between the three other subcomponents (e.g., learnability, ease of use and efficiency) and intention to use.
This preliminary data suggests that program designers may want to make sure participants understand why it is important to perform the program, in addition to developing an exercise program that they seem to enjoy performing. Future studies should capture more data on the usability scale/subscales to ensure the factor structure is consistent and items display appropriate psychometric properties.

Lauren Sprague
Lauren Sprague

Pilot test of critical flicker fusion in combination with functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) in order to accurately measure cognitive workload during a visuospatial vigilance task by Lauren Sprague [abstract unavailable prior to post]

Isaac Flint
Isaac Flint

Exploring the difference in Movement Corrections following Visual and Physical perturbations by Isaac Flint

Making online movement corrections is vital to a person’s ability to navigate the environments they live in. Failures often result in injury, such as tripping, car collisions, or bumping into hazardous surfaces. This experiment explores the behavioral (movement characteristics) and cortical (EEG) responses following two types of perturbations to arm-reaching movements, with a sample of young adult Michigan Tech students. Visual perturbations were administered by changing the visual location of a curser compared to a participant’s hand position during random experimental trials. Physical (mechanical) perturbations were administered via a robotic arm that unexpectedly moved participants’ arms during other random experimental trials. These experimental trials were further divided into two sizes of perturbations.
One size that placed the cursor outside of a set of obstacles, and one where the perturbation put the cursor on a collision course if the participant did not make a movement correction. Our results show that the type and size of perturbation had an impact on not only the behavioral characteristics of the movement corrections, but also the EEG event-related potentials that followed the perturbation. Differences were also observed for trials with collisions and trials without collisions. These results are a step toward understanding the neuro-cognitive correlates of online movement corrections. This knowledge will inform future work assessing how age and cognitive declines in an aging population may affect their ability to make successful movement corrections.

Nishat Binte Alam
Nishat Binte Alam

Types of Questions Teachers Ask to Engage Students in Making Sense of a Student Contribution by Nishant Binte Alam

In the student center classroom, where teachers constantly make decisions based on what is happening surrounding them, what they are noticing, and how they are interpreting student contributions, a teacher’s interpretation and response to student mathematical contributions plays an important role to shape and direct students’ thinking.
In particular, failing to ask productive questions that help students to engage in a sense-making discussion could deteriorate cognitive opportunities. This research is planning to study what types of questions teachers indicate they would ask to engage students in making sense of a high-leverage student mathematical contribution, what Leatham et al. (2015) refer to as a MOST (Mathematically Significant Pedagogical Opportunities to Build on Student Thinking) and their reasoning about why particular questions are or are not productive. In this study, a scenario-based survey questionnaire will be sent via email to 100 middle and high school teachers. In the given scenario, a MOST has surfaced, and teachers will be asked three questions about how they would respond in the scenario.
This research could lead us to determine if teachers are selecting the questions which are likely to be productive in supporting students’ mathematical thinking and why they select the questions that they do. Knowing this will inform future work with teachers to productively use student thinking in their teaching.

For a complete list of oral and poster presentations see 2023 Abstract Booklet.


No other graduate program influences the next generation like ACSHF. At Michigan tech, we address applied cognitive science problems by using basic research in applied settings to bridge the gap between people and technology. Program specializations span the interests of multiple faculty and research groups who work in state-of-the-art labs. For more information, contact ACSHF graduate program director Kevin Trewartha.