/ LRDC Newsletter Volume 11, Issue 4, 2020
Margaret McKeown, Professor Emerita has published Beck, I. L, McKeown, M. G, & Sandora, C. A. (2020). Robust Comprehension Instruction with Questioning the Author: 15 Years Smarter. McKeown was also recently interviewed on the podcast, Empowering LLs (Language Learners), about robust vocabulary instruction; and the Education Research Reading Room podcast discussing Questioning the Author.
Marc Coutanche, LRDC Research Scientist, and Assistant Professor, Psychology, was elected to the Memory Disorders Research Society (MDRS), an invitation-only professional society dedicated to the study of memory and memory disorders.
Natasha Tokowicz, PI, and Bob Slevc, co-Investigator, University of Maryland, were awarded a new grant from NSF for "Working Memory as Mediating the Role of Music in Learning of a Second Language."
Erin Walker, LRDC Research Scientist and Associate Professor, School of Computing and Information (SCI), has been named principal investigator for an NSF grant to study the use of robots in middle school math classrooms. Her co-principal investigators are Diane Litman, Timothy Nokes-Malach and Adriana Kovashka. Walker also received a Google AI 2020 Award for Inclusion Research for "Developing a Dialogue System for a Culturally-Responsive Social Programmable Robot."
Faith Milazzo, Institute for Learning (IFL), received the Community Pride Award from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, which recognizes environmental steward-ship with a commitment to litter control and recycling. Read more here.
In the News
Lindsay Page, authored an opinion piece for Education Dive titled "What does it take for Nudging to Impact College Students' Success?" Article here. Page and her co-author, Alberto Guzman-Alvarez, were cited in testimony that appeared before the Senate HELP committee on FAFSA simplification. Testimony here.
Jamie Hanson, Assistant Professor, Psychology, was interviewed about "A family-focused intervention influences hippocampal-prefrontal connectivity," paper here on WXOW news, La Crosse, WI; WFMZ-TV News, Allentown, PA; and News on 6, Tulsa, OK.
"The Need to Combat a False Growth Mind-Set," written by LRDC Research Associate Omid Fotuhi was published in the October 21, 2020, on-line Inside Higher Ed. Article here.
Christian Schunn spoke about "Scientific Literacy" as a guest speaker on the first episode of the student led The Pitt Pulse Podcast. Link to podcast here.
Babies' Random Choices Become Their Preferences
By Jill Rosen, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY*
When a baby reaches for one stuffed animal in a room filled with others just like it, that seemingly random choice is very bad news for those unpicked toys: the baby has likely just decided she doesn't like what she didn't choose.
Though researchers have long known that adults build unconscious biases over a lifetime of making choices between things that are essentially the same, findings by co-author Alex Silver, an LRDC graduate student in cognitive psychology and former Johns Hopkins undergraduate indicate that even babies make these kinds of choice. , suggesting that this way of justifying choice is intuitive and somehow fundamental to the human experience.
"The act of making a choice changes how we feel about our options," said Silver. "Even infants who are really just at the start of making choices for themselves have this bias."
The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.
People assume they choose things that they like, but the new research suggests that's sometimes backward: We like things because we choose them, and we dislike things that we don't choose.
"I chose this, so I must like it. I didn't choose this other thing, so it must not be so good. Adults make these inferences unconsciously," said co-author Lisa Feigenson, a Johns Hopkins cognitive scientist specializing in child development. "We justify our choice after the fact."
This makes sense for adults in a consumer culture who must make arbitrary choices every day, between everything from toothpaste brands to makes of cars to styles of jeans. The question, for Feigenson and Silver, was when exactly people start doing this. So, they turned to babies, who don't get many choices so are "a perfect window into the origin of this tendency," Feigenson says.
The team brought 10- to 20-month-old babies into the lab and gave them a choice of objects to play with: two equally bright and colorful soft blocks.
They set each block far apart, so the babies had to crawl to one or the otherâ€”a random choice.
After the baby chose one of the toys, the researchers took it away and came back with a new option. The babies could then pick from the toy they didn't play with the first time, or a brand new toy.
"The babies reliably chose to play with the new object rather than the one they had previously not chosen, as if they were saying, 'Hmm, I didn't choose that object last time, I guess I didn't like it very much,'" Feigenson said, "That is the core phenomenon. Adults will like less the thing they didn't choose, even if they had no real preference in the first place. And babies, just the same, dis-prefer the unchosen object."
In follow-up experiments, when the researchers instead chose which toy the baby would play with, the phenomenon disappeared entirely. If you take the element of choice away, Feigenson said, the phenomenon goes away.
"They are really not choosing based on novelty or intrinsic preference," Silver said, "I think it's really surprising. We wouldn't expect infants to be making such methodical choices."
To continue studying the evolution of choice in babies, the lab will next look at the idea of "choice overload." For adults, choice is good, but too many choices can be a problem, so the lab will try to determine if that is also true for babies.
Silver, A. M., Stahl, A. E., Loiotile, R., Smith-Flores, A. S., & Feigenson, L. (2020). When not choosing leads to not liking: Choice-induced preference in infancy. Psychological Science. Link to abstract here.
*This article is adapted from the original press release written by Jill Rosen posted by Johns Hopkins University on their news site, the Hub
Recent Publications (LRDC scientists names in boldface)
Betancur, L., Maldonado-Carreno, C., Votruba-Drzal, E., & Bernal. R. (2021). Measuring preschool quality in low- and middle-income countries: Validity of the ECERS-R in Colombia. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 54, 86-98. Link to abstract here.
Binning, K.R., Kaufmann, N., McGreevy, E.M., Fotuhi, O., Chen, S., Marshman, E., Kalendar, Z.Y., Limeri, L., Betancur, L., & Singh, C. (2020). Changing social contexts to foster equity in college science courses: An ecological-belonging intervention. Psychological Science. Abstract here.
Elliott, L. (2020). Sources of heterogeneity in the home enrichment practices of socioeconomically disadvantaged families. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 70. Article here.
Morett, L. M., Roche, J. M., Fraundorf, S. H., & McPartland, J. C. (2020). Contrast is in the eye of the beholder: Infelicitous beat gesture increases cognitive load during online spoken discourse comprehension. Cognitive Science, 44, e12912. Abstract here.
Koch, G.E., Akpan, E., & Coutanche, M.N. (2020). Image memorability is predicted by discriminability and similarity in different stages of a convolutional neural network. Learning & Memory, 27(12), 503-509. Link to abstract.
Knutson, K., Okada, T., & Crowley, K. (Eds.). (2020). Multidisciplinary approaches to art learning and creativity: Fostering artistic exploration in formal and informal settings. Routledge. (Features chapters by Jennifer Russell and Mary Ann Steiner) Link to book here.
Leyva, D., Von Suchodoletz, A., Doering, E., Shroff, D., Hinojo, A., & Kartner, J. (2021). Maternal book-sharing styles and goals and children’s verbal contributions in three communities. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 54, 228-238. Link to abstract here.
Zepeda, C.D. & Nokes-Malach, T.J. (2020). Metacognitive study strategies in a college course and their relation to exam performance. Memory & Cognition, 48(7). Abstract here.
Page, L. C., Lenard, M. A., & Keele, L. (2020). The design of clustered observational studies in education. AERA Open, 6(3), 1-14. Link to abstract here.
Jha, R.R., Nigam, A., Bhavsar, A., Pathak, S.K., Schneider, W., & K., R. (2020). Multi-shell D-MRI reconstruction via residual learning utilizing encoder-decoder network with attention (MSR-Net). 2020 42nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society (EMBC), Montreal, QC, Canada, pp. 1709-1713. Article here.
Zong, Z., Schunn, C.D., & Wang, Y. (2020). Learning to improve the quality peer feedback through experience with peer feedback. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. Link to abstract here.
Smith, L.V., Wang, M.T., & Hill, D.J. (2020). Black youths' perceptions of school cultural pluralism, school climate and the mediating role of racial identity. Journal of School Psychology, 83, 50-65. Abstract here.