Current and Recent Grant Support

Effects of Long-Duration Spaceflight on Training Retention: Background Experiments in the Laboratory

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ames Research Center

NNX14AB75A

January 1, 2014-December 31, 2016

Principal Investigator: Alice F. Healy

Subcontract to University of Northern Colorado

Principal Investigator of Subcontract: James A. Kole

Other Researchers: Vivian I. Schneider and Carolyn J. Buck-Gengler

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES:

Future space missions involve both a long duration and long communication delays. These factors drive a requirement for durable training that can survive long delays between time of training and actual use of the learned knowledge and skills. In addition, the training needs to be flexible, allowing for transfer to new, unexpected situations beyond those included in the training regimens. To explore the factors promoting durable and flexible training, the present study will contribute to an investigation of astronauts who will be engaged in a 1-year International Space Station (ISS12) mission to develop the operational understanding of training retention and transfer. The four tasks proposed for use in the present investigation are based on laboratory tasks developed previously to study acquisition, retention, and transfer of knowledge and skills by college students. The present project will provide the computer programs needed to allow these tasks to be trained and tested by the astronauts. In addition, this study will provide background laboratory experiments with college students that will determine the best task variants to use with the astronauts and will allow for the comparison of the astronaut behavior to the behavior of a substantial number of human adults outside the spaceflight situation.


Use of EReader Dictionaries to Enhance Vocabulary Learning in Middle School Language Arts Classes

American Literacy Council

July 1, 2013-December 31, 2014

Principal Investigator: Alice F. Healy

Primary Researchers: Carolyn J. Buck-Gengler

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES:

The goal of the intended study is to test the efficacy of onboard dictionaries and note-taking capabilities on an eReader, to see whether having those available will lead to better learning of vocabulary items that are likely to be unknown to middle school students than simply using a standard dictionary. The hypothesis is that having the dictionary immediately available with one or two presses on the screen, compared to having to interrupt reading to look up a word in a standard dictionary, will allow for better learning of words; and that the ability to take notes in the book (whether about content or words) will aid in understanding the content of the book. Depending on the results from vocabulary and comprehension tests after the books are read, this study will either show that dictionaries on modern eReader devices can indeed be helpful to middle school students, in contrast with findings a generation ago by Miller and Gildea (1987), or they will support Miller and Gildea's findings that dictionaries do not help students, possibly because they are not fine-tuned enough to the context of the book.


Experimental and Theoretical Analysis of Cognitive Processes Underlying Clicker Use in STEM Education

National Science Foundation

DRL-1246588

October 1, 2012-September 30, 2015

Principal Investigator: Alice F. Healy

Co-Principal Investigator: Matthew C Jones

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES:

The proposed research systematically examines an innovative educational intervention, the clicker technique. With this technique, each student is given a hand-held response device called a clicker, which is used to respond to periodic probe questions asked by the instructor about material recently presented in a lecture. Students are tested at multiple unpredictable points during a lecture, and the results of these tests are immediately available to both the instructor and students in summary form. It is proposed that the clicker operates in two general ways, a teaching benefit whereby the instructor can assess student knowledge and modify the lecture accordingly, and a learning benefit whereby anonymous testing during the lecture promotes student comprehension and engagement. The theoretical approach breaks down each of these benefits into component mechanisms and moderating variables. The purpose of the proposed experiments is to investigate these variables to determine the conditions under which the clicker is most effective.


Impact of Home E-Readers in the Improvement of Children's Reading

 

American Literacy Council

July 1, 2011-December 31, 2012

Principal Investigator: Alice F. Healy

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES:

We propose to examine the effects of reading with an e-reader that has a dictionary compared to reading with no device. Children will use the e-readers at home, and the books they read will be approved by their elementary school teacher. There will be two groups of third-grade children, both from the same school and class (with approximately 15 students in each group). In each group, the students would be in both of the two conditions (e-reader, no device). However, the students in one group will have the e-reader first (e.g., in the fall semester), and the students in the other group would have the e-reader second (e.g., in the spring semester). Children will be assigned to the two groups at random with the constraint that there are an equal number of students in the two groups for each level in each class. If possible, given prior information about the students, we will match subjects in the two groups on the basis of their reading ability.

This comparison of conditions should enable us to determine whether reading with an e-reader aids in the development of reading skill more than reading without such a device. The students would be specifically instructed by us on use of the dictionary and speech functions, by which clicking on a word gives its meaning and pronunciation information. We will require students in both groups in both semesters to keep a reading log indicating which books they read with the e-reader and which books they read without the e-reader, also showing how much of each book they were able to complete. We will give our own pretest and posttest, and these tests will assess both reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. In our evaluation of reading improvement, we will also use any tests made available to us by the school. An additional questionnaire given after the session with the e-reader will ask students about their use of the dictionary and speech functions.


Learning Specificity: Implications For Improved Training of Pilots and Astronauts

NASA Ames Research Center NNX10AC87A

January 1, 2010-December 31, 2013

University of Colorado

Principal Investigator: Alice F. Healy

Consultant: Lyle E. Bourne, Jr.

Senior Research Associate: Vivian I. Schneider

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES:

Learning has been shown to be highly specific to the conditions of training, with the implication that the entire configuration of task requirements during training should match those in the field and that simulators used for training purposes should correspond to the actual field conditions as closely as possible.  However, creating training regimes or simulators with high fidelity in every respect is probably neither reasonable nor cost effective.  Thus, it is important to determine which aspects of the field task and environment need to be reproduced in a simulator or other training setting to optimize eventual performance.  A unique, innovative approach to making this determination is taken in 10 proposed cognitive psychology experiments in three different test beds–navigation, time and distance estimation, and global and local processing–that investigate the extent to which test or field performance depends on the specific conditions of training with respect to variation along different task dimensions.  If performance at test depends critically on the match between training and testing conditions along a given dimension in these proposed experiments, that dimension will be recommended to be considered in designing training protocols and simulators for improving the performance of pilots and astronauts in the field.


 

Training Knowledge and Skills for the Networked Battlefield Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative Grant (MURI)

Army Research Office W9112NF-05-1-0153

May 1, 2005-April 30, 2010

University of Colorado

Principal Investigator: Alice F. Healy

Co-Principal Investigator: Lyle E. Bourne, Jr.

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES:

The goal of this project is to construct a theoretical and empirical framework that can account for and make accurate predictions about the effectiveness of different training methods over the full range of militarily relevant tasks. The ability to predict the outcomes of different training methods on particular tasks will, as a natural by-product, point to ways to optimize training. Many of the basic mechanisms of knowledge and skill acquisition are similar across a variety of perceptual, cognitive, and motor tasks. However, some specific skills have unique features that might demand special training techniques. To date, only a few studies have compared learning in different types of tasks. We will focus on an analysis of which findings, mechanisms, and principles broadly generalize across learning types and task requirements. This evaluation will allow us to make specific predictions about the effectiveness of training and general recommendations to improve training that would apply to virtually any DoD training program. We will also identify the unique features of specific knowledge and skills, where they exist, and how best to train them. We will develop taxonomies for both types of training and types of tasks that will span the range of training types, from classroom to simulator, and task types, from simple individual tasks (e.g., data entry, target detection) to complex tasks involving team cognition. We will extend our taxonomic analysis to include two new dimensions: training principles and performance measures. Two types of working predictive models of training effects will be developed and contrasted for their ability to account for and predict training outcomes: One type of model will be based on IMPRINT, and the other type will be based on the ACT-R approach. We will ensure that these models are mathematically sound, computationally feasible, and DoD applicable.


Efficacy of DoubleLine with SoundSpel in the Improvement of Children's Reading

American Literacy Council

July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010

University of Colorado

Principal Investigator: Alice F. Healy

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES:

The proposed research funded by the American Literacy Council (ALC) involves tutoring elementary school-aged children in reading using a unique teaching tool. The ALC has invented a reading method that uses a phonetic spelling system (SoundSpel) to facilitate the learning of unfamiliar words in print. In this system, each word of text is rewritten beneath the original word using this phonetic system, which eliminates the ambiguity of vowel pronunciation and confusing consonants by rewriting the same sound in the same way no matter the original word. A computer program called Double Line has already been written to change text automatically to this regularized system. The goal of the proposed work is to improve reading skills by allowing the child (or even adult learner) to use the phonetic spelling whenever an unfamiliar word is encountered, while familiar words can be read as they were presented originally. This program could not only facilitate reading but also encourage an increase in the amount of reading. As the amount of reading increases, so will the number of exposures to previously difficult words, so that eventually the child should rely less and less on SoundSpell and should read mostly without its tutoring.


Training for Efficient, Durable and Flexible Performance in the Military

Army Research Institute Contract DASW01-03-K-0002

October 1, 2002-September 30, 2007

University of Colorado

Principal Investigator: Alice F. Healy

Co-Principal Investigator: Lyle E. Bourne, Jr.

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES:

The proposed research builds on our earlier studies of skill training, retention of trained skills after a long delay interval, and transfer of trained skills to novel situations. On the basis of that research we were able to develop a set of training principles that optimize the efficiency and durability of trained performance. But we have also discovered that conditions that lead to durability often, and perhaps always, lead to limited flexibility or adaptivity. In fact, in our most recent research, we have found that training has little or no benefit if there are discernable differences between the training and testing situations in the background or context, even if there are no changes made in the primary task requirements. The focus of this proposed project is, thus, to develop training procedures for knowledge and skill that will survive primary task or background changes and, thereby, produce flexible, as well as efficient and durable, performance in military tasks. The proposed experiments are divided into three major groups. Experiments in the first group are designed to understand how individuals can be trained to contend with an unpredictable flow of information often large in quantity, rapidly presented, and ambiguous. Experiments in the second group are aimed to identify training factors that promote adaptive and flexible performance in the field. The final group of experiments examines performance in dynamic and changing task environments. We conclude with an effort to create, still in the laboratory, a complex set of tasks similar to those encountered by a digitally proficient pilot operating a fully computerized cockpit, and not unlike those of the digitally proficient "land warrior" soldier of tomorrow. The major aim of this set of experiments is to determine the extent to which training principles, first established in a simpler laboratory task, generalize to performance under these more complicated conditions.


 

CU-Boulder