I am trained in cognitive psychology and psychotherapy and I currently work on my PhD.


Learning how to learn is a vital competence in our information-loaded era.

Education and cognitive science were separated until the last decade and sadly, even nowadays many educators are unaware of the valuable lessons that science offers us to the end that we learn how to efficiently learn. Studies show that the grand majority of students don’t know how to learn efficiently and thus, the learning process becomes time and effort consuming, accompanied by negative emotions that lead to procrastination and inevitably, to low academic achievements.

Science-based learning techniques should be an essential and mandatory part of the elementary-school curriculum. Research shows that the very thing of understanding what happens in our brains while learning improves the efficiency of our learning.

But what happens in our brain when we learn? Our memory has an impressive storage capacity. Unlike the memory of a computer that has less and less space as you save one document after another, the human memory expands itself as you learn more and more things. Information from our short term memory is transferred to our long term memory through spaced-repetition. Repetition allows our neural networks to strengthen while encoding information and making it available for retrieval. The recalling of information is an active process that modifies the subsequent state of the memory. If you make an effort to recall something you make that information more available in memory for a future retrieval. When you learn something new, you bring in your working memory knowledge related to the new content and in this way you embed the new information in your existing long term memory date base. Although it seems like a pretty difficult process there are things that you can do to help your brain easily and rapidly learn new information because learning doesn’t stop when you graduate college. Learning is a life-long process that makes us more competent in our jobs and makes our life more interesting and enjoyable.

In this pinboard you will find:

  • The most efficient evidence-based learning strategies;
  • Neuroscience and cognitive psychology articles about learning;
  • Anti-procrastination science and techniques;
  • Physical and emotional factors that improve learning.

You will be thrilled by this board if you are:

  • A scientist;
  • A scientist in the cognitive-neuroscience field or in the educational psychology field;
  • An educator or a professor;
  • A school counselor or an educational psychologist;
  • A student. Happy learning!

Autism: Too eager to learn? Event related potential findings of increased dependency on intentional learning in a serial reaction time task

Abstract: It has been suggested that people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have an increased tendency to use explicit (or intentional) learning strategies. This altered learning may play a role in the development of the social communication difficulties characterizing ASD. In the current study, we investigated incidental and intentional sequence learning using a Serial Reaction Time (SRT) task in an adult ASD population. Response times and event related potentials (ERP) components (N2b and P3) were assessed as indicators of learning and knowledge. Findings showed that behaviorally, sequence learning and ensuing explicit knowledge were similar in ASD and typically developing (TD) controls. However, ERP findings showed that learning in the TD group was characterized by an enhanced N2b, while learning in the ASD group was characterized by an enhanced P3. These findings suggest that learning in the TD group might be more incidental in nature, whereas learning in the ASD group is more intentional or effortful. Increased intentional learning might serve as a strategy for individuals with ASD to control an overwhelming environment. Although this led to similar behavioral performances on the SRT task, it is very plausible that this intentional learning has adverse effects in more complex social situations, and hence contributes to the social impairments found in ASD. Autism Res 2017. © 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Pub.: 27 Apr '17, Pinned: 09 May '17

Cortical regions recruited for complex active-learning strategies and action planning exhibit rapid reactivation during memory retrieval.

Abstract: Memory retrieval can involve activity in the same sensory cortical regions involved in perception of the original event, and this neural "reactivation" has been suggested as an important mechanism of memory retrieval. However, it is still unclear if fragments of experience other than sensory information are retained and later reactivated during retrieval. For example, learning in non-laboratory settings generally involves active exploration of memoranda, thus requiring the generation of action plans for behavior and the use of strategies deployed to improve subsequent memory performance. Is information pertaining to action planning and strategic processing retained and reactivated during retrieval? To address this question, we compared ERP correlates of memory retrieval for objects that had been studied in an active manner involving action planning and strategic processing to those for objects that had been studied passively. Memory performance was superior for actively studied objects, and unique ERP retrieval correlates for these objects were identified when subjects remembered the specific spatial locations at which objects were studied. Early-onset frontal shifts in ERP correlates of retrieval were noted for these objects, which parallel the recruitment of frontal cortex during learning object locations previously identified using fMRI with the same paradigm. Notably, ERPs during recall for items studied with a specific viewing strategy localized to the same supplementary motor cortex region previously identified with fMRI when this strategy was implemented during study, suggesting rapid reactivation of regions directly involved in strategic action planning. Collectively, these results implicate neural populations involved in learning in important retrieval functions, even for those populations involved in strategic control and action planning. Notably, these episodic features are not generally reported during recollective experiences, suggesting that reactivation is a more general property of memory retrieval that extends beyond those fragments of perceptual information that might be needed to re-live the past.

Pub.: 26 Oct '11, Pinned: 09 May '17

Movement-related theta rhythm in humans: coordinating self-directed hippocampal learning.

Abstract: The hippocampus is crucial for episodic or declarative memory and the theta rhythm has been implicated in mnemonic processing, but the functional contribution of theta to memory remains the subject of intense speculation. Recent evidence suggests that the hippocampus might function as a network hub for volitional learning. In contrast to human experiments, electrophysiological recordings in the hippocampus of behaving rodents are dominated by theta oscillations reflecting volitional movement, which has been linked to spatial exploration and encoding. This literature makes the surprising cross-species prediction that the human hippocampal theta rhythm supports memory by coordinating exploratory movements in the service of self-directed learning. We examined the links between theta, spatial exploration, and memory encoding by designing an interactive human spatial navigation paradigm combined with multimodal neuroimaging. We used both non-invasive whole-head Magnetoencephalography (MEG) to look at theta oscillations and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to look at brain regions associated with volitional movement and learning. We found that theta power increases during the self-initiation of virtual movement, additionally correlating with subsequent memory performance and environmental familiarity. Performance-related hippocampal theta increases were observed during a static pre-navigation retrieval phase, where planning for subsequent navigation occurred. Furthermore, periods of the task showing movement-related theta increases showed decreased fMRI activity in the parahippocampus and increased activity in the hippocampus and other brain regions that strikingly overlap with the previously observed volitional learning network (the reverse pattern was seen for stationary periods). These fMRI changes also correlated with participant's performance. Our findings suggest that the human hippocampal theta rhythm supports memory by coordinating exploratory movements in the service of self-directed learning. These findings directly extend the role of the hippocampus in spatial exploration in rodents to human memory and self-directed learning.

Pub.: 06 Mar '12, Pinned: 09 May '17

Distinct Hippocampal versus Frontoparietal Network Contributions to Retrieval and Memory-guided Exploration.

Abstract: Memory can profoundly influence new learning, presumably because memory optimizes exploration of to-be-learned material. Although hippocampus and frontoparietal networks have been implicated in memory-guided exploration, their specific and interactive roles have not been identified. We examined eye movements during fMRI scanning to identify neural correlates of the influences of memory retrieval on exploration and learning. After retrieval of one object in a multiobject array, viewing was strategically directed away from the retrieved object toward nonretrieved objects, such that exploration was directed toward to-be-learned content. Retrieved objects later served as optimal reminder cues, indicating that exploration caused memory to become structured around the retrieved content. Hippocampal activity was associated with memory retrieval, whereas frontoparietal activity varied with strategic viewing patterns deployed after retrieval, thus providing spatiotemporal dissociation of memory retrieval from memory-guided learning strategies. Time-lagged fMRI connectivity analyses indicated that hippocampal activity predicted frontoparietal activity to a greater extent for a condition in which retrieval guided exploration than for a passive control condition in which exploration was not influenced by retrieval. This demonstrates network-level interaction effects specific to influences of memory on strategic exploration. These findings show how memory guides behavior during learning and demonstrate distinct yet interactive hippocampal-frontoparietal roles in implementing strategic exploration behaviors that determine the fate of evolving memory representations.

Pub.: 05 May '17, Pinned: 09 May '17

Improving school readiness of high-risk preschoolers: Combining high quality instructional strategies with responsive training for teachers and parents

Abstract: This study evaluated whether the combination of two proven interventions, one in Head Start classrooms (The Early Education Model, TEEM) and one in the home (Play and Learning Strategies, PALS) resulted in enhanced effects on at-risk 3- to 5-year-old children’s school readiness skills when compared to either of these interventions alone. Teachers and parents were trained to use a responsive style and strategies that supported children’s school readiness skills with the goal of providing children consistency in responsive practices across the school and home environments. The study was conducted in 77 classrooms with teachers randomized to either the TEEM (n = 39) or No TEEM (i.e., control or business as usual, n = 38) conditions. Six to eight children in each classroom were randomly assigned to either have their parents receive PALS (n = 314; 210 after attrition) or to a No PALS condition (n = 309; 221 after attrition) resulting in four conditions: TEEM/PALS, TEEM/No PALS, No TEEM/PALS, and No TEEM/No PALS. Results showed greater gains in the TEEM teachers’ language and literacy instructional practices and sensitivity compared to control teachers, but there were few significant findings for child cognitive outcomes. Parents receiving PALS, as compared to those without PALS, showed greater increases across play and book reading contexts in numerous responsive behaviors linked to the attachment and socio-cultural theories. Children whose parents received PALS versus those whose parents did not showed greater gains in direct measures of print knowledge and self-regulation and in social and language skills observed during interactions with their parent. Interactive effects of TEEM plus PALS were seen for increased engagement in shared book reading but not for other cognitive or social outcomes.

Pub.: 11 Mar '17, Pinned: 03 May '17

Medical student use of digital learning resources.

Abstract: University students expect to use technology as part of their studies, yet health professional teachers can struggle with the change in student learning habits fuelled by technology. Our research aimed to document the learning habits of contemporary medical students during a clinical rotation by exploring the use of locally and externally developed digital and print self-directed learning resources, and study groups.We investigated the learning habits of final-stage medical students during their clinical paediatric rotation using mixed methods, involving learning analytics and a student questionnaire. Learning analytics tracked aggregate student usage statistics of locally produced e-learning resources on two learning management systems and mobile learning resources. The questionnaire recorded student-reported use of digital and print learning resources and study groups.The students made extensive use of digital self-directed learning resources, especially in the 2 weeks before the examination, which peaked the day before the written examination. All students used locally produced digital formative assessment, and most (74/98; 76%) also used digital resources developed by other institutions. Most reported finding locally produced e-learning resources beneficial for learning. In terms of traditional forms of self-directed learning, one-third (28/94; 30%) indicated that they never read the course textbook, and few students used face-to-face 39/98 (40%) or online 6/98 (6%) study groups.Learning analytics and student questionnaire data confirmed the extensive use of digital resources for self-directed learning. Through clarification of learning habits and experiences, we think teachers can help students to optimise effective learning strategies; however, the impact of contemporary learning habits on learning efficacy requires further evaluation. Health professional teachers can struggle with the change in student learning habits fuelled by technology.

Pub.: 17 Mar '17, Pinned: 03 May '17

Grade level, study time, and grade retention and their effects on motivation, self-regulated learning strategies, and mathematics achievement: a structural equation model

Abstract: The present study complements previous research findings with new data to improve our understanding of the relationship between motivational variables and academic performance in math mediated by self-regulated learning (SRL). A structural equation model with predictor (i.e., grade retention, grade level, and study time), process (i.e., perceived usefulness of SRL strategies, self-efficacy for the use of SRL strategies, and reported use of SRL), and product variables (i.e., academic achievement in mathematics) is proposed. The model was analyzed in two samples of data (calibration and validation samples). The first sample served to fit and respecify the model, and the second one was used to analyze the consistency of the findings of the first sample. A sample of 756 middle school Portuguese students participated in the current study. The results indicate that SRL is positively and significantly related to academic achievement and that the latter is, in turn, powerfully determined by perceived usefulness and self-efficacy, although students’ reported use of SRL strategies decreases from 7th to 9th grades. Self-efficacy and perceived usefulness of SRL strategies were also found to decrease as grade retention increased. These results are discussed with regard to the relevance of self-efficacy and perceived usefulness of SRL strategies in increasing academic achievement.

Pub.: 06 Dec '12, Pinned: 03 May '17

Preparing for the Speaking Tasks of the TOEFL iBT® Test: An Investigation of the Journeys of Chinese Test Takers

Abstract: Language test preparation has often been studied within the consequential validity framework in relation to ethics, equity, fairness, and washback of assessment. The use of independent and integrated speaking tasks in the TOEFL iBT® test represents a significant development and innovation in assessing speaking ability in academic contexts. Integrated tasks that involve synthesizing and summarizing information presented in reading and listening materials have the potential to generate new test preparation strategies. This study investigated the experiences of over 1,500 Chinese test takers and 23 teachers who were preparing for the TOEFL iBT speaking tasks. It examined the frequency of use of a number of different test preparation activities and materials, reasons, and expectations for taking preparation courses and the features of preparation courses. In addition, we examined the usefulness of test preparation from two perspectives: students' and teachers' perceptions as well as the relationship between test preparation and performance. Data were collected via questionnaires, focus group discussions, interviews with test takers and teachers, and classroom observations. The data showed that (a) test preparation was a hugely complex, multiple-components construct, and teaching and learning test-taking strategies compose the most prominent feature of intensive preparation courses; (b) there were significant age-related differences in students' preparation activities and focuses, although with small effect sizes; (c) there was a high agreement between teachers and students in their views on the usefulness of test preparation activities; and (d) there existed only a weak relationship between test preparation and performance. The only significant predictor of students' test performance was the frequency of their use of the TOEFL Practice Online TPO® practice tests. The findings of the study can enhance our understanding of the pedagogical practices that characterize test preparation programs and contribute to the ongoing validity argument for the TOEFL iBT Speaking test. The implications of the findings for test publishers, test takers, teachers, and test preparation schools are discussed with reference to the instructional, learning, and affective aspects of the multifaceted construct of test preparation.

Pub.: 20 Apr '17, Pinned: 03 May '17

Variables Associated With Achievement in Higher Education: A Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses.

Abstract: The last 2 decades witnessed a surge in empirical studies on the variables associated with achievement in higher education. A number of meta-analyses synthesized these findings. In our systematic literature review, we included 38 meta-analyses investigating 105 correlates of achievement, based on 3,330 effect sizes from almost 2 million students. We provide a list of the 105 variables, ordered by the effect size, and summary statistics for central research topics. The results highlight the close relation between social interaction in courses and achievement. Achievement is also strongly associated with the stimulation of meaningful learning by presenting information in a clear way, relating it to the students, and using conceptually demanding learning tasks. Instruction and communication technology has comparably weak effect sizes, which did not increase over time. Strong moderator effects are found for almost all instructional methods, indicating that how a method is implemented in detail strongly affects achievement. Teachers with high-achieving students invest time and effort in designing the microstructure of their courses, establish clear learning goals, and employ feedback practices. This emphasizes the importance of teacher training in higher education. Students with high achievement are characterized by high self-efficacy, high prior achievement and intelligence, conscientiousness, and the goal-directed use of learning strategies. Barring the paucity of controlled experiments and the lack of meta-analyses on recent educational innovations, the variables associated with achievement in higher education are generally well investigated and well understood. By using these findings, teachers, university administrators, and policymakers can increase the effectivity of higher education. (PsycINFO Database Record

Pub.: 24 Mar '17, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

Preschoolers can make highly accurate judgments of learning.

Abstract: Preschoolers' ability to make judgments of learning (JOLs) was examined in 3 experiments in which they were taught proper names for animals. In Experiment 1, when judgments were made immediately after studying, nearly every child predicted subsequent recall of every name. When judgments were made after a delay, fewer showed this response tendency. The delayed JOLs of those who predicted at least 1 recall failure were still overconfident, however, and were not correlated with final recall. In Experiment 2, children received a second study trial with feedback, made JOLs after a delay, and completed an additional forced-choice judgment task. In this task, an animal whose name had been recalled was pitted against an animal whose name had not been recalled, and the children chose the one they were more likely to remember later. Compared with Experiment 1, more children predicted at least 1 recall failure and predictions were moderately accurate. In the forced-choice task, animal names that had just been successfully recalled were typically chosen over ones that had not. Experiment 3 examined the effect of providing an additional retrieval attempt on delayed JOLs. Half of the children received a single study session, and half received an additional study session with feedback. Children in the practice group showed less overconfidence than those in the no-practice group. Taken together, the results suggest that, with minimal task experience, most preschoolers understand that they will not remember everything and that if they cannot recall something at present, they are unlikely to recall it in the future.

Pub.: 15 Nov '12, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

Investigating the Relationship between Instructors' Use of Active-Learning Strategies and Students' Conceptual Understanding and Affective Changes in Introductory Biology: A Comparison of Two Active-Learning Environments.

Abstract: In response to calls for reform in undergraduate biology education, we conducted research examining how varying active-learning strategies impacted students' conceptual understanding, attitudes, and motivation in two sections of a large-lecture introductory cell and molecular biology course. Using a quasi-experimental design, we collected quantitative data to compare participants' conceptual understanding, attitudes, and motivation in the biological sciences across two contexts that employed different active-learning strategies and that were facilitated by unique instructors. Students participated in either graphic organizer/worksheet activities or clicker-based case studies. After controlling for demographic and presemester affective differences, we found that students in both active-learning environments displayed similar and significant learning gains. In terms of attitudinal and motivational data, significant differences were observed for two attitudinal measures. Specifically, those students who had participated in graphic organizer/worksheet activities demonstrated more expert-like attitudes related to their enjoyment of biology and ability to make real-world connections. However, all motivational and most attitudinal data were not significantly different between the students in the two learning environments. These data reinforce the notion that active learning is associated with conceptual change and suggests that more research is needed to examine the differential effects of varying active-learning strategies on students' attitudes and motivation in the domain.

Pub.: 09 Apr '17, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

Using standards to improve middle school students' accuracy at evaluating the quality of their recall.

Abstract: When recalling key term definitions from class materials, students may recall entirely incorrect definitions, yet will often claim that these commission errors are entirely correct; that is, they are overconfident in the quality of their recall responses. We investigated whether this overconfidence could be reduced by providing various standards to middle school students as they evaluated their recall responses. Students studied key term definitions, attempted to recall each one, and then were asked to score the quality of their recall. In Experiment 1, they evaluated their recall responses by rating each response as fully correct, partially correct, or incorrect. Most important, as they evaluated a particular response, it was presented either alone (i.e., without a standard) or with the correct definition present. Providing this full-definition standard reduced overconfidence in commission errors: Students assigned full or partial credit to 73% of their commission errors when they received no standard, whereas they assigned credit to only 44% of these errors when receiving the full-definition standard. In Experiment 2, a new standard was introduced: Idea units from each definition were presented, and students indicated whether each idea unit was in their response. After making these idea-unit judgments, the students then evaluated the quality of their entire response. Idea-unit standards further reduced overconfidence. Thus, although middle school students are overconfident in evaluating the quality of their recall responses, using standards substantially reduces this overconfidence and promises to improve the efficacy of their self-regulated learning.

Pub.: 23 Dec '09, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

Improving college students' evaluation of text learning using idea-unit standards.

Abstract: When recalling key definitions from class materials, college students are often overconfident in the quality of their responses. Even with commission errors, they often judge that their response is entirely or partially correct. To further understand this overconfidence, we investigated whether idea-unit judgements would reduce overconfidence (Experiments 1 and 2) and whether students inflated their scores because they believed that they knew answers but just responded incorrectly (Experiment 2). College students studied key-term definitions and later attempted to recall each definition when given the key term (e.g., What is the availability heuristic?). All students judged the quality of their recall, but some were given a full-definition standard to use, whereas other students first judged whether their response included each of the individual ideas within the corresponding correct answer. In Experiment 1, making these idea-unit judgements reduced overconfidence for commission errors. In Experiment 2, some students were given the correct definitions and graded other students' responses, and some students generated idea units themselves before judging their responses. Students were overconfident even when they graded other students' responses, and, as important, self-generated idea units for each definition also reduced overconfidence in commission errors. Thus, overconfidence appears to result from difficulties in evaluating the quality of recall responses, and such overconfidence can be reduced by using idea-unit judgements.

Pub.: 12 Aug '10, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

Comparing the testing effects under blocked and mixed practice: The mnemonic benefits of retrieval practice are not affected by practice format.

Abstract: The act of retrieving information modifies memory in critical ways. In particular, testing-effect studies have demonstrated that retrieval practice (compared to restudy or to no testing) benefits long-term retention and protects from retroactive interference. Although such testing effects have previously been demonstrated in both between- and within-subjects manipulations of retrieval practice, it is less clear whether one or the other testing format is most beneficial on a final test. In two paired-associate learning experiments conducted under typical testing-effect conditions, we manipulated restudy and test trials using either blocked or mixed practice conditions while equating other factors. Retrieval-practice and restudy trials were presented either separately in different blocks (blocked practice) or randomly intermixed (mixed practice). In Experiment 1, recall was assessed after short and long delay intervals; in Experiment 2, the final memory test occurred after a short delay, but with or without an interfering activity before the final test. In both experiments, typical testing effects emerged, and critically, they were found to be unaffected by practice format. These results support the conclusion that testing effects are robust and emerge to equal extents in both blocked and mixed designs. The generality of testing effects further encourages the application of retrieval practice as a memory enhancer in a variety of contexts, including education.

Pub.: 29 Jul '16, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

How Effective is Example Generation for Learning Declarative Concepts?

Abstract: Declarative concepts (i.e., key terms and corresponding definitions for abstract concepts) represent foundational knowledge that students learn in many content domains. Thus, investigating techniques to enhance concept learning is of critical importance. Various theoretical accounts support the expectation that example generation will serve this purpose, but few studies have examined the efficacy of this technique. We conducted three experiments involving 487 undergraduates to investigate the effects of example generation on concept learning and examined factors that may moderate its effectiveness. Students read a short text that introduced eight concepts. Some students were then prompted to generate concrete examples of each concept followed by definition restudy, whereas others only restudied definitions for the same amount of time. Two days later, students completed final tests involving example generation and definition cued recall. Meta-analytic outcomes indicated that example generation yields moderate improvements in learning of declarative concepts, relative to restudy only. Each experiment also included additional groups to investigate potential moderators. Example generation tended to be more effective with spaced versus massed restudy. Despite strong correlations between the quality of examples generated during practice and final test performance, experimental manipulations that improved example quality did not improve learning. In sum, the current work establishes that example generation enhances concept learning and provides an important foundation for further investigating factors that moderate its benefits to learning.

Pub.: 24 Jun '16, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

Covert retrieval practice benefits retention as much as overt retrieval practice.

Abstract: Many experiments provide evidence that practicing retrieval benefits retention relative to conditions of no retrieval practice. Nearly all prior research has employed retrieval practice requiring overt responses, but a few experiments have shown that covert retrieval also produces retention advantages relative to control conditions. However, direct comparisons between overt and covert retrieval are scarce: Does covert retrieval-thinking of but not producing responses-on a first test produce the same benefit as overt retrieval on a criterial test given later? We report 4 experiments that address this issue by comparing retention on a second test following overt or covert retrieval on a first test. In Experiment 1 we used a procedure designed to ensure that subjects would retrieve on covert as well as overt test trials and found equivalent testing effects in the 2 cases. In Experiment 2 we replicated these effects using a procedure that more closely mirrored natural retrieval processes. In Experiment 3 we showed that overt and covert retrieval produced equivalent testing effects after a 2-day delay. Finally, in Experiment 4 we showed that covert retrieval benefits retention more than restudying. We conclude that covert retrieval practice is as effective as overt retrieval practice, a conclusion that contravenes hypotheses in the literature proposing that overt responding is better. This outcome has an important educational implication: Students can learn as much from covert self-testing as they would from overt responding.

Pub.: 03 Jul '13, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

How accurately can students evaluate the quality of self-generated examples of declarative concepts? Not well, and feedback does not help

Abstract: Publication date: December 2016 Source:Learning and Instruction, Volume 46 Author(s): Amanda Zamary, Katherine A. Rawson, John Dunlosky Students are commonly asked to learn declarative concepts in many courses. One strategy students report using involves generating concrete examples of abstract concepts. If students have difficulties evaluating the quality of their generated examples, then instructors will need to provide students with appropriate scaffolds or feedback to improve judgmentaccuracy. No prior research has investigated if students can accurately evaluate the quality of the examples they generate, which was the first aim of the current research. The second aim of this research was to investigate the extent to which providing feedback while students evaluate their generated examples can improve the accuracy of their example-quality judgments. In two experiments, students generated examples for declarative concepts from social psychology and then judged the quality of their examples. When making judgments, students received no feedback (in which they were only given the key term), full definition feedback (in which they were shown the definition of the declarative concept) or idea unit feedback (in which they first evaluated if they represented each idea unit of the definition within their example). Outcomes showed that students were overconfident when judging the quality of their examples, specifically for commission errors (i.e., examples that were entirely incorrect). Surprisingly, full definition and idea unit feedback did not help students improve the accuracy of their example-quality judgments. Thus, until scaffolds are discovered to reduce student overconfidence, instructors will need to assist in evaluating generated examples as students use this strategy to learn declarative concepts.

Pub.: 09 Sep '16, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

Procrastination Automatic Thoughts as a Personality Construct: An Analysis of the Procrastinatory Cognitions Inventory

Abstract: The present paper examines the nature of procrastination-related automatic thoughts by examining the correlates of the Procrastinatory Cognitions Inventory (PCI). The PCI was administered along with numerous other measures to three samples of students (two undergraduate samples and one graduate student sample). Analyses confirmed that the PCI is associated with elevated levels of neuroticism and low levels of conscientiousness but is a unique predictor of distress over and above the variance attributable to these broad personality traits. The PCI was associated significantly with negative automatic thoughts in general as well as automatic thoughts reflecting the need to be perfect. Tests of achievement goal orientation showed that students with high scores on the PCI are focused on performance avoidance goals. Elevated levels of procrastinatory cognitions among graduate students were associated with apprehension about writing, graduate student stress, low self-actualization, and feelings of being an impostor. Overall, the findings suggest that the experience of frequent procrastination-related thoughts contributes uniquely to increased levels of psychological distress and stress. Our findings point to the potential utility of incorporating an emphasis on procrastination cognitions when conducting assessments and when implementing cognitive-behavioral interventions focused on procrastination-related themes.

Pub.: 20 Mar '12, Pinned: 29 Apr '17

Engaging Middle School Students through Locally Focused Environmental Science Project-Based Learning

Abstract: Increasing scientific literacy through education is one way to promote awareness of current environmental challenges, and can be enhanced through project-based learning (PBL), a pedagogical approach in which students explore authentic topics and demonstrate their learning publically. The National Science Foundation–funded GK–12 program at Iowa State University partnered doctoral-level graduate students (fellows) with middle and high school science teachers. This study analyzed results from one such middle school partnership in Iowa, where a PBL approach was implemented. Classroom practices focused on local environmental case studies of energy development, water pollution, soil science, climate change, plant biology, and ecology. Results from a student survey (n = 101), following a year with the PBL curricula, revealed significantly more positive attitudes and greater levels of engagement and confidence in scientific material relative to GK–12 peers (n = 329). Publicly submitted student letters to a government agency responsible for approving an oil pipeline project were also analyzed for scientific themes and levels of comprehension (n = 65). Overall, 60% of students demonstrated the ability to construct arguments by citing specific data and scientific evidence in the letters, and also incorporated topics covered in previous units (4–5 themes addressed on average per letter). Results demonstrate that a PBL approach in a middle school science classroom is a method to stimulate attitudes, engagement, confidence, and comprehension in the study of environmental topics. Discussion follows about improving K–12 science education to enhance public understanding and engagement around environmental policy issues.

Pub.: 01 Dec '16, Pinned: 27 Apr '17