Category: CLS

Human Factors Grad Student Wins Hackathon, Cites Pandemic for Opportunity

One Michigan Tech graduate student found a silver lining of the pandemic-driven shift to remote study: the ability to gain experiences previously prevented by distance. And “gained experience” is an understatement, as Brooke Poyhonen recently was on the winning team in the Texas Health Care Challenge, an online hackathon that sought solutions to problems in health care.

The winning project, from Team WatsonCares, focused on women’s postpartum health and proposed a suite of services for new mothers:

  • A natural-language chatbot, powered by IBM Watson’s AI, to answer patient questions about both mental and physical health
  • A community feature allowing postpartum women to support one another
  • Deep informational and support resources

Poyhonen said the team came together because after hearing initial “problem pitches,” in which existing teams outline the projects they want to tackle, some were uninterested in the originally pitched ideas. So they created their own team. “Ideally, we want the chatbot to be personalized to the patient’s history,” she said. “And we wanted to create a safe space for women to talk to each other.”

Poyhonen will complete her accelerated M.S. in applied cognitive science and human factors this spring. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Michigan Tech in 2020. Both degrees are offered by the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department in the University’s College of Sciences and Arts.

The Texas challenge is normally on-site only, and she appreciated the chance to participate and urges other students to seek out similar opportunities. “It was great to meet people from around the country and work with a team on a real-world goal,” Poyhonen said. “It’s a great networking opportunity and gives me a concrete project to discuss in interviews. It was just so rewarding.”

The team’s prize included $120,000 in credits toward IBM products and services, a smaller cash award, and temporary office space with a Dallas venture capital firm. Poyhonen is working with team members on the project as a start-up while also pursuing other opportunities.

She got her first taste of hackathons over the winter in the Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Grand Challenge, run by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The challenge was to help the up to 90% of sonographers who develop disorders such as occupational overuse syndrome. Her team, which included a sonography mentor, an engineering student and two sonography students, created the Air Buddy, a device to help sonographers apply pressure to a probe with reduced physical stress. Poyhonen’s team won first place after judges deliberated for an entire week after the month-long window for teams to work on the problem.

Kelly Steelman, interim chair of the Cognitive and Learning Sciences Department, said hackathons are great supplements to classroom experiences. “I commend Brooke for taking the initiative to seek out design challenges as a way to build her portfolio of experiences and hone the skills she’s learned in our program,” Steelman said. “Brooke took advantage of opportunities through outside organizations, but we also offer hack-a-thons right here on campus.”

She said Husky Innovate is currently planning their inaugural hack-a-thon as part of an initiative to grow the human-centered design community at Michigan Tech. For more information on this, contact Lisa Casper.

Dr. Steelman is a member of the Human-Centered Computing research group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

Michigan Tech’s graduate program in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors teaches students how to apply principles of psychology to the design and evaluation of human-technological systems. Steelman said Beth Veinott, director of the Center for Human-Centered Computing, frequently reinforces for students that, “If you get the psychology right first, you design the right system, it is easier to train, and people are more likely to adopt it.”


CS Lecture: Kelly Steelman, CLS, March 19, 3 pm

The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture by Dr. Kelly Steelman, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, on Friday, March 19, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

The title of the lecture is, “Keeping Up with Tech.”

Join the virtual lecture here.

Steelman is interim department chair and associate professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences. Her research interests include basic and applied attention, models of attention, human performance in aviation, display design, tech adoption, and technology training.

Lecture Title

“Keeping Up with Tech”

Lecture Abstract

COVID has revealed much in the past year, including our dependence on technology and the challenges that many of us experience trying to keep up with it. Dr. Kelly Steelman has spent the past 15 years studying human attention and applying it to support the introduction of new technologies in contexts ranging from aviation to education.

In her presentation, Steelman will provide an overview of her research, using examples from Next Gen Aviation and the BASIC Digital Literacy Training Program to illustrate how understanding human attention can help us predict the consequences of introducing new technology, improve the design of technology, and support training to help people keep up with the rapid pace of technological change.



Beth Veinott to Present Lecture February 12, 3 pm

The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Veinott on Friday, February 12, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

Veinott is an associate professor in the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department. She will present, “Beyond the system interface: Using human-centered design to support better collaborative forecasting.”


Speaker Biography

Elizabeth Veinott is a cognitive psychologist working in technology-mediated environments to improve decision making, problem solving and collaboration. She directs Michigan Tech’s Games, Learning and Decision Lab and is the lead for the Human-Centered Computing group of Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

She has been active in the ACM’s SIGCHI and on the conference organizing committees for CHI Play and CSCW. Prior to joining Michigan Tech in 2016, she worked as a principal scientist in an industry research and development lab and as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center. Her research has been funded by NIH, Army Research Institute, Army Research Lab, Air Force Research Laboratory, and IARPA.

Lecture Abstract

Teams use technology to help them make judgments in a variety of operational environments. Collaborative forecasting is one type of judgment performed by analyst teams in weather, business, epidemiology, and intelligence analysis. Research related to collaborative forecasting has produced mixed results.

In her talk, Veinott will describe a case of using cognitive task analysis to develop and evaluate a new forecast process and tool. The method captured analysts’ mental models of game-based forecasting problems, and allowed the process to co-evolve with the system design. The tool was tested in a simulation environment with expert teams conducting analyses over the course of hours and compared to a control group. Challenges and lessons learned will be discussed, including implications for human-centered design of collaborative tools.


Shane Mueller to Present Lecture Jan. 22, 3 pm

The Department of Computer Science will present a lecture, by Dr. Shane Mueller on Friday, January 22, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.

Mueller is an associate professor in the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors program of the Cognitive and Learning Science department. His lecture is titled, “Explainable AI, and principles for building human-centered XAI systems.”

Mueller’s research focuses on human memory and the representational, perceptual, strategic, and decisional factors that support it. He employs applied and basic research methodologies, typically with a goal of implementing formal quantitative mathematical or computational models of cognition and behavior.

He is also the primary developer of the Psychology Experiment Building Language (PEBL), a software platform for creating psychology experiments.

Mueller has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and psychology from Drew University, and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Michigan. He was a senior scientist at Klein Associates Division of Applied Research Associates from 2006 to 2011. His research has been supported by NIH, DARPA, IARPA, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Army Research Institute, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and others.

Lecture Title:

Explainable AI, and principles for building human-centered XAI systems

Lecture Abstract

In recent years, Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) has re-emerged in response to the development of modern AI and ML systems. These systems are complex and sometimes biased, but they nevertheless make decisions that impact our lives. XAI systems are frequently algorithm-focused; starting and ending with an algorithm that implements a basic untested idea about explainability. These systems are often not tested to determine whether the algorithm helps users accomplish any goals, and so their explainability remains unproven. I will discuss some recent advances and approaches to developing XAI, and describe how many of these systems are likely to incorporate many of the lessons from past successes and failures to build explainable systems. I will then review some of the basic concepts that have been used for user-centered XAI systems over the past 40 years of research. Based on this, I will describe a set of empirically-grounded, human user-centered design principles that may guide developers to create successful explainable systems.


Robert West of DePauw University to Present Lecture Feb. 8

Dr. Robert West, the Elizabeth P. Allen Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, DePauw University, will present a lecture on Monday, February 8, 2021, at 2:00 p.m., via online meeting.

The title of Dr. West’s lecture is, “Why Josh Stole the Password: A Decision Neuorscience Approach to Insider Threat in Information Security.”

The lecture is hosted by the Human-Centered Computing (HCC) research group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) and the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS).


Robert West Bio

Dr. Robert West received his Ph.D from the University of South Carolina in Cognitive Development, and completed postdoctoral work at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, studying cognitive aging and cognitive neuroscience.

He has been on faculty at the University of Notre Dame, Iowa State University, and is currently the Elizabeth P. Allen Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at DePauw University. He is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Psychonomic Society, and the Midwestern Psychological Association; and a founding member of the NeuroIS Society.

West’s research interests and publications span the areas of decision neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience of aging, and cognitive control. He has served as the associate editor for the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Science, and is currently associate editor for Psychology and Aging.


Lecture Abstract

Cybercrime has a significant impact on nations, corporations, and individuals. Violations of information security can reduce consumer confidence and valuation at the corporate level, and jeopardize social and financial well-being at the personal level. In this talk, I will explore the findings of some of my recent research in order to demonstrate the utility of a decision neuroscience approach to providing insight into the neural correlates of ethical decision making in the context of information security.

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ACSHF Doctoral Defense: Lavanya Rajesh Kumar

by Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors doctoral candidate, Lavanya Rajesh Kumar, will defend her dissertation at 10 a.m. Tuesday (Dec. 1) via Zoom.

The title of her defense is “To Examine the Effects of Exercise & Instructional Based Interventions on Executive Functioning, Motor Learning & Emotional Intelligence Abilities Among Older Adults”.

Kumar is advised by Kevin Trewartha (CLS). All are welcome to attend.

Kevin Trewartha is a researcher with the ICC’s Human-Centered Computing group.


Briana Bettin, Asst. Prof., Part I: Neopets, HTML, Early Success

Briana Bettin, Ph.D., Computer Science: New Degree, New Position

By Karen S. Johnson, Communications Director, College of Computing

Michigan Tech Ph.D. graduate Briana Bettin, Computer Science, is among six new faculty members the College of Computing welcomed this fall. Bettin is an assistant professor for the Department of Computer Science, and an affiliated assistant professor for the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department.

She is teaching courses including CS1121 Introduction to Programming in C/C++, and pursuing research and other projects with faculty and students.

In August 2020, Bettin successfully defended her dissertation, “The Stained Glass of Knowledge: On Understanding Novice Mental Models of Computing,” and was awarded her Ph.D. in Computer Science.

“I’m excited to begin my faculty journey at Michigan Tech and I look forward to helping our students continue to learn skills that will allow them to create the future,” Bettin says. “Michigan Tech has always been an amazing place for me—the opportunity to continue to give back to this place that has given me so much is something I’m very grateful for.”

Bettin says that she is excited about several interesting research projects already being planned, and she looks forward to helping the College advance its educational and research visibility and standing.

Bettin is a member researcher of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems’ new Center for Computing Education, which promotes research and learning activities related to computing education.


Neopets, HTML, CSS. Here’s how Briana Bettin got everything started.

Video games caught Bettin’s interest at a young age and as she grew older, she became interested in online games like Neopets, which allows the user to develop a profile using HTML.

“So, I became excited to learn about HTML and CSS in order to express myself in those online spaces,” she says. “This also got me interested in graphic design, and both of these things combined got me hooked on the idea of creating expressive virtual spaces.”

Bettin earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, with an Application Area in User Experience and Marketing, from Michigan Tech in spring 2014. Following, while working full time as a front-end web developer at a consulting firm, in summer 2016 she completed her master’s degree online. In fall 2016, Bettin began her Ph.D. studies.

The right fit.

“I wasn’t always sure if Computer Science was ‘right’ for someone like me,” Bettin reflects. “But my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Linda Ott, would encourage me by reminding me of the vast opportunities in technology. And since I became aware of the interdisciplinary area of User Experience, my interest in programming has only grown!”

“Dr. Ott is absolutely amazing,” Bettin says of Professor Linda Ott, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “I am thankful for her, and I knew that having her as my adviser would be one of the best things I could hope for. Our working styles are very complementary, and she is a great motivator and supporter. Laura Brown and Nilufer Onder have also been great mentors, offering me wonderful advice and support whenever I talk to them.”

Bettin adds that Assistant Professor Leo Ureel, Computer Science, was “wonderful in helping me develop my research vision. We often bounce ideas, and he has supported my ideas and given me many opportunities to implement research ideas in the classroom. Our talks give me so much perspective and energy.”

Early teaching success, fellowships, and awards.

Bettin was a CS 1121 lab instructor from fall 2016 until fall 2019, when she became the instructor of record, teaching her first semesters as a lecturer in fall 2019 and spring 2020. That fall, she received outstanding “Average of 7 Dimensions” student evaluation scores, one of only 74 such accolades earned by faculty that semester.

But Bettin’s excellence was recognized long before, in fall 2017, when she received the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award from Michigan Tech’s Graduate Student Government.

Bettin was awarded the King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship from the State of Michigan in fall 2018. She received several doctoral consortium stipends from organizations including Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), the Frontiers in Education Doctoral Symposium (FIE), and the Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W).

A Google Scholar award made it possible for her to attend the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration, which supports women in computing and organizations that view technology innovation as a strategic imperative. In fall 2019, Bettin was nominated for the prestigious MAGS Teaching Award.

Part II of this article will be published soon. In the second installment we’ll learn about Briana’s teaching and research, and the faculty and peer mentors who supported her as she completed her Ph.D.


Kelly Steelman Presents at ASEE

Kelly Steelman, interim department chair and associate professor, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, presented her paper, “Work in Progress: Student Perception of Computer Programming Within Engineering Education: An Investigation of Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors” at the 2020 ASEE Virtual Conference, June 22-26, 2020.

Co-authors of the paper are Michelle Jarvie-Eggart (EF), Kay Tislar (CLS), Charles Wallace (CC), Nathan Naser (GMES), Briana Bettin (CS) and Leo Ureel (CS), all from Michigan Tech.

Abstract
Although most engineering faculty and professionals view computer programming as an essential part of an undergraduate engineering curriculum, engineering students do not always share this viewpoint. In fact, engineering students—especially those outside of computer and electrical engineering—may not realize the value of computer programming skills until after they have graduated and advanced in their career (Sterian, Dunne, & Blauch, 2005). Failure to find value in computer programming may have negative consequences for learning. Indeed, engineering students who do not view programming as interesting or useful show poorer performance on tests of programming concepts than students who do (Lingar, Williams, and McCord, 2017). This finding is consistent with theories of technology acceptance (e.g., Davis, 1989, Venkatesh, et al., 2003) that emphasize perceived usefulness as a key determinant of attitudes toward a technology and subsequent use or disuse of it. Accordingly, to better support student learning, engineering coursework should include specific interventions that emphasize the utility of programming skills for a career in engineering. Intervention effectiveness, however, may depend in part on the characteristics of the individual learners, including their prior programming experience, their openness to new experiences, and their beliefs about the nature of intelligence. The purpose of the current work is to understand engineering students’ attitudes toward and experiences with computer programming as well as to assess the relationship between their attitudes and experiences and their mindset toward their own intelligence. 101 engineering students participated in the study as part of a general education psychology course. Participants completed a computer language inventory and three surveys. The first survey inquired about students’ computer programming experiences and attitudes (Hoegh and Moskal, 2009). The second survey posed questions related to different aspects of openness to experience (Woo et al., 2014): intellectual efficiency, ingenuity, curiosity, aesthetics, tolerance, and depth. Finally, the third survey probed participants’ beliefs about the nature of intelligence and whether it is fixed or can be developed (Dweck, 1999). This paper will present the results of these surveys and explore the correlations among the various scales. The implications for engineering education interventions will be discussed.

Download the paper here.

Citation
Steelman, K. S., & Jarvie-Eggart, M. E., & Tislar, K. L., & Wallace, C., & Manser, N. D., & Bettin, B. C., & Ureel, L. C. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Student Perception of Computer Programming within Engineering Education: An Investigation of Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . https://peer.asee.org/35683


Kelly Steelman Selected HFES Science Policy Fellow

Kelly Steelman (CLS) has been selected from a competitive pool of applicants to participate in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) Science Policy Fellowship program.

The HFES Science Policy Fellows (SPF) program provides a valuable opportunity for HFES members to learn how to successfully advocate for human factors and ergonomics on the national stage. SPF Participants will receive extensive training in public affairs, advocacy and outreach to be provided by Lewis-Burke Associates and the HFES Government Relations Committee during the HFES Annual Meeting. They will also participate in an annual spring Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C., including a Hill visit training session and a policy-related speaker prior to the visit day. They will be invited to attend monthly conference calls with Lewis-Burke and the HFES Government Relations Committee covering ongoing events and opportunities for HFES to engage in policy decisions.

Following an initial one-year term in the SPF program, each program graduate will commit to two years of service in an outreach capacity. They will create a customized plan that may include continued participation in the Capitol Hill day and interactions with policymakers in Washington, DC, working at the local/state level, serving on the GRC or a subcommittee, and other forms of outreach developed by each participant. HFES SPF participants and graduates will form the basis of a future brain trust with expertise in outreach creating a pipeline of politically engaged and knowledgeable members within HFES.