Category: STEM Education

ACSHF Forum: Jason Archer

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host MTU Humanities Assistant Professor Jason Archer at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum.

The presentation, “The Embrace of the Surgical Machine: Touch, Practice, and Power in the Operating Room”, will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (February 6) in Meese 109 and via Zoom

In this presentation, Jason Archer will talk about his work in the area of Human Machine Communication, focusing on research related to the da Vinci Surgical System (dVSS), a system widely used in robotic-assisted surgery. Dr. Archer will discuss how concerns with touch-oriented media sparked his investigation of the dVSS, explain the challenges of doing research in a surgical setting, and share stories from interviews with robotic surgeons, and observations from the OR, that help highlight some of his findings.

ACSHF Forum: Grad Student Presentations

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host ACSHF PhD Students Lauren Sprague and Brandon Woolman at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum. Their presentations will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (January 23) in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Sprague will present “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.

Abstract:
Vigilance tasks are largely considered to be stressful to perform, difficult to stay on task, and cognitively draining due to the mental demands of sustaining attention. These tasks, which involve the monitoring of an environment for critical signals while avoiding more frequent neutral signals, induce what has been dubbed the vigilance decrement. The vigilance decrement typically involves a decline in performance as well as an increase in response time. During the investigation of this decrement, some tools need to be validated before they should be used to investigate it. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy is a non-invasive brain imaging technique that provides real-time data on changes in light absorption caused by the hemodynamic activity of the brain region in question. This hemodynamic activity provides information about cognitive effort. The flicker fusion threshold is the frequency at which an observer perceives a flickering light as static. This threshold can provide information about cortical arousal, alertness, fatigue, and cognitive workload. This study seeks to determine if these two methods, utilized alongside the NASA-TLX a measure of mental workload, can provide detailed information about the cognitive effort of a task as well as any decline in mental resources due to the mental effort of a visuospatial vigilance task.  

Woolman will present “Assessing Cognitive Impairment and Early Alzheimer’s Disease Using a Reverse Visually Guided Reaching Task.

Abstract:
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, which is known for its impacts on cognitive functions, especially memory. Early signs of AD can be difficult to diagnose (Porsteinsson et al., 2021), neuropsychological test batteries designed for dementia are only moderately reliable. Recent findings in the field of motor behavior have show novel motor tasks to be sensitive to cognitive differences between younger and older adults. Some motor tasks have shown to be more sensitive to cognitive deficits compared to neuropsychological test batteries (Watral & Trewartha, 2021). For example, tasks like the visuomotor rotation task, where participants adapt to a visuomotor perturbation, have been identified as a means for assessing cognition (Buch, Young & Contreras-Vidal, 2003). Recent work by Tippet and Sergio (2006) developed a reverse visually guided reaching task (rVGR) in which participants make a series of aimed movements toward a target. During the rVGR task, the visual cursor moves in the opposite direction of the physical reach, forcing the participant to correct their movements by reversing the reaching direction. Measures of performance in this task, such as movement speed and inconsistency of movements, have been shown to change in preclinical Alzheimer’s populations (Hawkins & Sergio, 2014). The current investigation seeks to further characterize rVGR performance differences between younger adults, older adults, and individuals with early AD (diagnosed with MCI or mild AD). For this purpose, we are recruiting 20 younger adults, 20 healthy older adults, and 20 early AD patients. We are testing the prediction that participants with AD should perform similarly to the controls on a VGR task but show significant deficits on the rVGR task. Additionally, correlations will be examined between performance on a neuropsychological battery and the rVGR task performance to test the prediction that performance on the motor task are related to changes in cognition in AD. This work may provide the foundation for using motor tasks as a diagnostic tool for cognitive impairments in preclinical stages of MCI and Alzheimer’s Disease. Early diagnosis of cognitive impairments due to MCI and AD could allow physicians to maximize the effectiveness of available treatment methods for slowing the progression of the disease.

ACSHF Forum: Destaney Sauls

Destaney Sauls, Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS) Visiting Instructor, will kick off the spring semester forums for Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) with her presentation, “Tried and True: The Role of Perceived Loyalty in Friendship Functioning,” from 2-3 p.m. Monday (January 9) in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Abstract: Research concerning social relationships has often suggested that loyalty is an important feature of a wide variety of relationships – however, this research has also produced inconsistent results regarding the actual impact of loyalty. Generally speaking, much of the research concerning social relationships has focused on romantic relationships, rather than platonic. The current research utilizes the context of a platonic friendship to examine the possibility that perceived loyalty may be more impactful on a relationship than actual loyalty – essentially, how loyal someone is might matter, but what might matter more is how loyal their friend “thinks” they are.

ACSHF Forum: Grad Student Presentations

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host ACSHF PhD Students Anne Linja and Alex Watral at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum. Their presentations will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (November 28) in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Linja will present her research titled “Through the Eyes of Tesla FSD Drivers: Tesla Drivers’ Social Media Posts Never Run Out of Gas”

Abstract: With the recent deployment of the latest generation of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) mode, consumers are using semi-autonomous vehicles in both highway and residential driving for the
first time. As a result, drivers are facing complex and unanticipated situations with an unproven technology, which is a central challenge for cooperative cognition. One way to support cooperative
cognition in such situations is to inform and educate the user about potential limitations. Because these limitations are not always easily discovered, users have turned to the internet and social media
to document their experiences, seek answers to questions they have, provide advice on features to others, and assist other drivers with less FSD experience. In this presentation, I will explore a novel approach to supporting cooperative cognition: Using social media posts can help characterize the limitations of the automation in order to get information about the limitations of the system and explanations and workarounds for how to deal with these limitations. Ultimately, our goal is to determine the kinds of problems being reported via social media that might be useful in helping users anticipate and develop a better mental model of an AI system that they rely on. To do so, we examine a corpus of social media posts about FSD problems to identify (1) the typical problems reported, (2) the kinds of explanations or answers provided by users, and (3) the feasibility of using such user-generated information to provide training and assistance for new drivers. The results reveal a number of limitations of the FSD system (e.g., lane-keeping and phantom braking) that may be anticipated by drivers, enabling them to predict and avoid the problems, thus allowing better mental models of the system and supporting cooperative cognition of the human-AI system in more situations.

Watral will present her research titled “Sensitivity of a Robotic Hit & Avoid Task to Executive Control and Global Cognitive Changes in Healthy Aging and Cognitive Impairment”

Abstract: We recently found that a rapid motor decision-making task is sensitive to age differences in executive control and can isolate the cognitive from the sensorimotor contributions to task performance (Watral & Trewartha, 2021). However, we are also interested in this task’s ability to distinguish between healthy aging and cognitive impairment as seen in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. In this presentation, I will revisit the results from Watral & Trewartha (2021) and show preliminary findings comparing task performance between healthy older adults and those who exhibit cognitive impairment. Additionally, task parameters thought to be associated with executive control will be compared to a traditional measure of executive functioning (Trail Making Test) and a global measure of overall cognitive functioning (Montreal Cognitive Assessment).

ACSHF Forum: Briana Bettin

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host CS and CLS Assistant Professor Dr. Briana Bettin at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum Monday (November 14) from 2:00pm to 3:00pm in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Briana Bettin is an assistant professor of both computer science and cognitive and learning sciences. She received her master’s in human-computer interaction from Iowa State University and her bachelor’s and Ph.D. in computer science from Michigan Tech. Her research blends user experience methodologies with education research to better understand programming students and the impacts of the classroom environment.

Abstract: Our increasingly digital society requires citizens to effectively communicate about and with computing technologies to thrive. All too often, these technologies impacting our lives are suggested to be apolitical, while details of their design – including their limitations – are obfuscated, ignored, or considered inevitable. Navigating the world of computing and digital landscapes already poses a variety of challenges which can make new obstacles, “glitches”, and outcomes feel insurmountable. Coupled with stereotypical notions suggesting increased difficulty and limited societal impacts of computing and programming, learners of all ages and skills can easily become frustrated and discouraged from learning skills and topics necessary for today’s society. 

This talk explores the need for and explorations toward increasing awareness, understanding, and agency toward computing as a crucial component of modern society. From learning to code to understanding data collection, opportunities abound to transform learner relationships with computing material. Empowering learners to communicate confidently about computing gives them the power through language to begin critically analyzing and reimagining these technologies. With technology demystified and new pathways opened, learners may feel more capable to advocate for and/or create change. This approach to agency formation draws from theories of “punk DIY subculture”, positing that “punk programmers” might be defined as individuals who recognize faulty societal norms in technology design, and “DIY” approaches to subvert them. By toppling barriers to entry, giving learners a voice, and inspiring agency, more “punk programming pedagogy” may play a key part in reimagining the multifaceted possibilities of our sociotechnical futures.

ACSHF Forum: Robert Gutzwiller

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host Dr. Robert Gutzwiller (Arizona State University) at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors Forum on Monday (Oct. 31) from 2-3 p.m. via Zoom only.

Title:
Do Cyber Attackers Suffer From Decision-Making Biases?

ABSTRACT:
We report on whether cyber attacker behaviors contain decision making biases. Data from a prior experiment were analyzed in an exploratory fashion, making use of think-aloud responses from a small group of red teamers. The analysis provided new observational evidence of traditional decision-making biases in red team behaviors (confirmation bias, anchoring, and take-the-best heuristic use). These biases may disrupt red team decisions and goals, and simultaneously increase their risk of detection. Interestingly, at least part of the bias induction may be related to the use of cyber deception. Future directions include the development of behavioral measurement techniques for these and additional cognitive biases in cyber operators, examining the role of attacker traits, and identifying the conditions where biases can be induced successfully in experimental conditions

CLS at Human Factors & Ergonomics Society International Annual Meeting

Michigan Tech was well represented at the HFES International Annual Meeting held in Atlanta, GA last week. CLS faculty in attendance were Kelly Steelman, Susie Amato-Henderson, and Briana Bettin (CLS/CS), along with ACSHF graduate students Tauseef Mamun, Lamia Alam, Lauren Monroe, and Nishat Alam.

Mamun co-chaired the session “Human AI Robot Teaming (HART)” and presented his research “Assessing Satisfaction in and Understanding of a Collaborative Explainable AI (CXAI) System through User Studies” conducted with Lamia Alam and Shane Mueller (CLS) and Robert Hoffman (IHMC).

Amato-Henderson co-chaired the session “COVID-19 Pandemic and Remote/Hybrid Learning – Education” and presented her research with Jon Sticklen (EF) “The Relationship between Teaming and Sense of Connection in a First-Year Engineering Program”.

Monroe presented her research “The Effects of Varying Music Tempo on Vigilance Performance and Affective State” conducted with Samantha Smith (CLS)

Bettin (CLS/CS) presented her research “Identifying and Addressing Risks in the Early Design of a Sociotechnical System through Premortem” conducted with Kelly Steelman (CLS), Charles Wallace (CS), Dana Pontious (CLS), and Elizabeth Veinott (CLS).

ACSHF Forum: Grad Student Presentations

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host ACSHF students Lisa Casper and Betsy Lehman at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum Monday (October 17) from 2:00pm to 3:00pm in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Lisa Casper will present her research titled “Does Design Thinking Support Innovation: Empirical Evaluation

Abstract: Design thinking (DT) is a tool to support team innovation however, few empirical studies have examined it. In this study, we experimentally compared the effect of two approaches for DT ideate brainstorming on the number of ideas generated and the perceived innovativeness of those ideas.  As part of a semester-long DT project, 145 participants comprising 48 teams were challenged to develop an innovative solution for one of 17 United Nations sustainability goals (https://sdgs.un.org/goals).  Half of the teams engaged in a standard DT brainstorming ideation process, while the other half participated in an experimental brainstorming condition. Participants generated ideas and provided subjective ratings of the process and their team’s solution. Ideas were content-coded on several dimensions by two independent raters.  We found that teams in the DT experimental brainstorming techniques condition generated almost 58% more ideas than those in the DT baseline condition in the same amount of time, but their ideas were not rated as more innovative. What these data suggest for innovation and conducting research on innovation will be discussed.

Betsy Lehman will present her research titled Counterfactual Thinking as a Strategy for Questioning a Frame: Experimental Results

Abstract: Understanding how people make sense of situations and question the theories they hold may be critical in many circumstances, from communicating about climate change to improving DEI at work. Questioning a perspective is assumed to be a precursor to changing it (Klein et al., 2007), yet the research on the questioning process is limited. In a previous study, we found that factors involved in counterfactual thinking (Roese & Olson, 1995), mutability of the situation and ease of generating counterfactuals, appeared highly relevant in the sensemaking process. In the present experiment, we tested this effect by manipulating ease of generation and a mutability focus strategy. This research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of perspective shifting to support applications such as programs to reduce implicit bias.

KCP Future Faculty Fellowship Award – Tim Raymond

The Michigan Tech Graduate School has announced that ACSHF MS student Tim Raymond is the recipient of a King-Chávez-Parks (KCP) Future Faculty Fellowship for academic year 2022-2023. Tim explains how he first became interested in teaching through his involvement in martial arts classes in his early teens. His passion grew from there and he continues to pursue and define his knowledge of teaching through education and real-world experiences.

Ever since my early teen years I have been involved in teaching. At 13 years of age I was leading martial arts classes for even younger students. Although the techniques were still quite rudimentary, I found a passion within teaching that has continued to evolve. My teacher as he taught me had enough insight into how much I enjoyed teaching that he began to teach me how to teach. Instead of just throwing concepts or techniques at me, he made sure I understood them all at a deeper level with the intention I continue teaching them. 

I can’t say that academia has always been a major concern for me. Due to unforeseeable reasons, I dropped out of high school when I was 17 years old to help out with the family business. I never thought I would return to a school setting but after many bumps in the road, I eventually found my way back.

The most amazing part about being an educator or at least aspiring to be one is that we are continuously humbled every day through our interactions with colleagues and people above us. These interactions can lead us to new and unique paths that we would have never imagined. My time here at MTU has brought me to psychology and eventually grad school where under my current advisor, Elizabeth Veinott, I have recently been exposed to research regarding the railroad industry. 

While on this new journey through academia I have been able to find ways to combine the knowledge I am receiving from Michigan Tech with my knowledge of the ‘real-world’ and I endeavor daily to become an educator that teaches not just the concepts or ideas but how we can use them within industry and alongside our daily lives.

ACSHF Forum: Cindy Sifonis

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host speaker Cindy Sifonis (Oakland University) at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum. The presentation, “Meatspace and Cyberspace: How humans and avatars dress affect their interactions and behavior with others.”, will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (October 3) via Zoom.

Abstract: Research has shown that what clothes we wear affects the way that we feel about ourselves and how we behave with others. This is also true for gamers. Player’s avatars also affect how players feel about themselves and how they interact with others. This presentation will begin with discussing enclothed cognition (how one dresses, affects behavior). This will follow by examining how gaming avatars affect the behaviors of the player when playing in video games, mainly multiplayers and MMOs.