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David Miele - Beliefs About the Nature of Ability and Effort: Their Role in Learning, Parenting, and Teaching

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  • Research on students' growth mindsets (i.e., their beliefs about whether intelligence is malleable) has grown quite popular in recent years. However, these mindsets are just one understanding in a complex constellation of beliefs that students hold about the nature of intellectual ability and effort, many of which may have important implications for students' motivation and learning. In the first half of this talk, I will explore this complexity, with a particular focus on students' effort source beliefs (i.e., their beliefs about whether intellectual effort originates from internal or external sources).
    Importantly, students' motivation and learning are not solely influenced by their own beliefs about ability and effort. What parents and teachers believe about the nature of ability may influence the ways in which they support children’s learning. In the second half of the talk, I will discuss research suggesting that parents and teachers with strong growth mindsets are more likely than those with weak growth mindsets to engage in autonomy-supportive instructional practices (practices which may promote self-regulated learning) and less likely to engage in controlling practices, particularly when working with a student who is perceived to have low levels of ability in a particular domain.
  • David Miele is the principal investigator of the Motivation, Metacognition, and Learning (MML) Laboratory at Boston College. He investigates students’ beliefs about their ability, learning, and motivation, and examines how these beliefs influence their engagement in academic tasks. At the broadest level, he is interested in what it takes for students to become effective, independent learners. Though much of his research has examined the motivation of college students, he is also interested in the developmental period of late elementary school (third to fifth grade). In addition, he has conducted research with parents and teachers in order to better understand how their beliefs influence the ways in which they support the learning of elementary school students.

Shana Carpenter - Using Prequestions to Enhance Student Learning

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  • Much research has shown that practicing to retrieve information enhances learning. In nearly all of the studies on retrieval practice, students retrieve information after they have been introduced to it via a lecture or reading assignment. Very little is known about the effects of asking students questions before they learn something. In a series of laboratory- and classroom-based studies, students were given “prequestions” over information they were about to learn, and their learning of the material was later assessed. In her talk, Dr. Carpenter will report the results of this research and discuss the implications for teaching and learning.
  • Shana Carpenter is an associate professor of cognitive psychology at Iowa State University. Her research interests include the application of memory principles to improve student learning and metacognition. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the James S. McDonnell Foundation to implement principles from the science of learning within educational practice. Dr. Carpenter currently serves as associate editor for the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (JARMAC), and serves on the editorial boards for several other journals in cognitive and educational psychology.

Ido Davidesco - Brain-to-Brain Synchrony in the Classroom

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  • The dynamic interaction between a teacher and a group of learners is fundamental to the learning process in the classroom, yet we know very little about how the brain supports these interactions. My research utilizes portable electroencephalogram (EEG) technology to measure the brain activity of groups of students during classroom activities. Using this method, my colleagues and I have demonstrated that students’ and teachers’ brainwaves become synchronized (i.e. exhibit temporally coupled response patterns) when teachers and students are interacting with each other. Further, brain-to-brain synchrony was found to be predictive of students’ engagement and social relationships. My current research extends this approach to technology-enhanced learning, comparing the brain dynamics of students in face-to-face and online environments. In my talk, I will discuss these findings as well as how brain technologies can be used to engage students in authentic research in their classroom.
  • Ido Davidesco is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at New York University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and then completed postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton University and New York University (NYU). His research utilizes portable brain technologies to investigate learning in real-world environments. Dr. Davidesco is the founder of the NYU Neuroscience and Education Collaborative, an interdisciplinary group that builds partnerships between researchers and educators. He is also the 2017 recipient of the Society for Neuroscience Next Generation Award.

Noah Forrin - Investigating the Spread of Attention/Inattention in the Classroom

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  • Everyday experience suggests that attentiveness (or inattentiveness) can spread through a group. We are investigating this “attention contagion” between students in a classroom setting. Our principal hypothesis is that both attentive behaviours (e.g., leaning forward, frequent notetaking) and inattentive behaviours (e.g., slouching, infrequent notetaking) can be transmitted to a student from a nearby classmate, affecting the student’s attentional engagement in the lecture. To test this hypothesis, we conducted an experiment in which pairs of students watched a 45-minute lecture video (on the history of Pompeii) in a simulated classroom environment. One student—the participant—was seated behind another student—a confederate posing as another participant and trained to exhibit either attentive or inattentive behaviours. Consistent with our “attention contagion” hypothesis, relative to students paired with the inattentive confederate, students paired with the attentive confederate took significantly more notes and self-reported being more attentive to the lecture. We also found a strong positive association between attentiveness and lecture comprehension. Implications for sustaining students’ attention in the classroom will be discussed.
  • Dr. Noah Forrin is an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of Psychology at McMaster University.  During his graduate studies at the University of Waterloo, Noah advanced theories of attention, associative learning, and memory.  His current program of research focuses on factors that influence learning in educational settings.  Noah is particularly interested in examining how attention (and inattention) spreads in the classroom.  He is also studying the negative effect that performance anticipation has on memory (e.g., failing to remember information from the talk that preceded your own at a conference).  Noah is also an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Waterloo, where he teaches Basic Research Methods.

Panel Discussion - What do real live cognitive psychologists do in their own classroom teaching?

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