Andrew Butler

Andrew Butler

Our world abounds with false information – urban legends, political slander, and untruths about other cultures are just a few of the many possible examples. Often this false information is innocuous, but some of it is quite malicious because it undermines people’s understanding of the world and conflicts with learning the truth. For instance, consider the common misconceptions that people have about physics (i.e. “naive physics”), such as the belief that the motion of objects is caused by internal forces. Such false knowledge profoundly affects people’s interpretation of basic physical phenomena and can interfere with the learning of core science principles. In this talk, Dr. Andrew C. Butler will present research that helps us to understand how feedback can be used to correct false knowledge. One goal of the talk will be to examine some of the conventional wisdom in education about learning from feedback. Among other topics, he will discuss the role of metacognitive monitoring, the interaction between existing knowledge and newly learned information, and the temporal dynamics of error-correction.

Talk Title - Facilitating student learning through feedback: Small changes can make a big difference 

Robert Goldstone Done

Robert Goldsone

For several years, I have taught a course on complex systems – systems in which organized patterns emerge from the interactions of many simple parts.  This course provides a constructive test case for theories of concept learning because many of the underlying principles are difficult to understand and generalize.

Some of the principles that we have explored are positive and negative feedback loops, decentralization and self-organization, the development of specialized parts, synchronization, evolution and adaptation, and search.  These principles and their instantiating algorithms are taught using interactive simulations.  I will describe experimental results on students learning transfer and transfer of scientific concepts through interactive simulations, and their implications for embodied cognition, mental models, and how transfer across superficially dissimilar simulations might be fostered.

To understand both the successes and failures of students’ efforts to interpret computer simulations, we have developed a computational model of the process by which human learners discover patterns in natural phenomena.  Our approach to modeling how people learn about a system by interacting with it follows three core design principles: 1) perceptual grounding, 2) experimental intervention, and 3) cognitively plausible heuristics for determining relations between simulation elements.  An application of the model to the discovery of ideal gas laws will be described.

Talk Title - Learning about Complex Systems

Barb Oakley 

Barbara Oakley

Today’s digital natives have certain expectations for what they will see in both online and face-to-face learning materials. Yet professors, used to teaching to students trapped willy-nilly in their classrooms for extended blocks of time, often ignore what those students want and need in order to keep their attention on tough material. In this talk, Dr. Oakley sketches practical insights from neuroscience and cognitive psychology that are proven to grab attention and communicate ideas quickly and effectively.

Talk Title - How to snag today's "free range" learners

Terry Sejnowski

Terry Sejnowski

We have entered an information age that will enhance human cognition and affect jobs, lives and education. It will have as profound an impact on society as the industrial revolution had 250 years ago by enhancing human physical power. The timetable for this transformation will be much more rapid than the industrial revolution: It took 100 years for the world to adapt to machines; the information age is already happening and will play out over the next few decades.

Talk Title - The Age of Information: Preparing for the tsunami

Yana Weinstein

Yana Weinstein

One goal of cognitive psychologists who apply their research to education is encouraging others to use evidence-based teaching and learning techniques. However, conducting relevant research, presenting it at academic conferences, and publishing it in academic journals is not enough: Researchers must also communicate clearly with education stake-holders for the research findings to be maximally useful to society. In this presentation, I talk about some of my research; but more importantly, I talk about my outreach efforts with the Learning Scientists project, co-founded with Dr. Megan Smith (Rhode Island College) in January 2016. Through this project, we communicate with students and teachers about research, motivating and supporting them to implement recommendations when they study and teach. The project grew from a Twitter account to a blog, free resources in many languages, a forthcoming podcast, and much more. I will discuss the successes and challenges that we have faced with this project.

Talk Title: Supporting teachers and students with the science of learning: Challenges and solutions