Terry Sejnowski - The Age of Information: Preparing for the Tsunami

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  • 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.
  • Terry Sejnowski is a scientist for all seasons. Trained as a theoretical physicist, he was a pioneer in the neural network revolution and trailblazed a new computational approach to understanding brain function. He holds the Francis Crick Chair at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, a Distinguished Professor at the University of California at San Diego and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Engineering.

Andrew Butler - Facilitating Student Learning Through Feedback

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  • 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.

  • Dr. Butler’s research focuses on applying the science of learning to enhance educational practice. He is interested in student-focused interventions that involve implementing simple but powerful principles within educational contexts to improve long-term retention and promote deeper understanding. In addition, he is interested in helping teachers to acquire knowledge about how to use principles from the science of learning to improve and expand their pedagogy. Finally, he also investigates how technology can be leveraged to facilitate learning inside and outside of the classroom.

Robert Goldstone - Learning About Complex Systems

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  • 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.

  • Robert Goldstone is Chancellor’s Professor in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department and Cognitive Science program at Indiana University. His research interests include concept learning and representation, perceptual learning, educational applications of cognitive science, decision making, collective behavior, and computational modeling of human cognition. He won the 2000 APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and a 2004 Troland research award from the National Academy of Sciences. He was the executive editor of Cognitive Science from 2001-2005. He has been elected as a fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (2004), the Cognitive Science Society (2006), and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016).

Barbara Oakley - Catpuring the "Free Range" Learner

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  • 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.

  • Barbara Oakley, PhD, PE is the Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University. Her work focuses on the complex relationship between neuroscience and social behavior. Together with Terrence Sejnowski, the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute, she teaches Coursera – UC San Diego’s “Learning How to Learn,” the world’s most popular massive open online course. Her book Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential is a lead title for Penguin in 2017.

Yana Weinstein - Supporting Students and Teachers with the Science of Learning: Challenges and Solutions

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  • 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.

  • Yana Weinstein became an Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2013, having received her PhD in Psychology from University College London and 4 years’ postdoctoral training at Washington University in St. Louis. Yana's research interests lie in improving student’s test preparation strategies and performance, as well as the judgments students make about their learning. Yana poses questions with direct applied relevance: How can we help students choose optimal study strategies? Why are test scores sometimes surprising to students? And how does retrieval practice help students learn?