Kent State Psychological Sciences Graduate Students Awarded NSF Fellowships
If you compare the fields of medicine and education, you would find that the former bases its practices on empirical scientific research whereas education is mainly driven by intuition. However, cognitive psychology researchers at Kent State University who investigate student achievement are trying to change this reality.
“In fact, there are tons of empirical scientific studies already published in the field of education that don’t always go into practice in our educational system in the U.S.,” notes Katherine Rawson, Ph.D., professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State University. “We’re trying to demonstrate what works best for students so that educational reform can be based on evidence and not what people believe works best.”
Two of their graduate students, Jessica Janes and Nola Daley, were recently awarded pre-doctoral fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which will provide three years of support covering tuition and fees as well as a $34,000 stipend and the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences for professional development. Both are currently finishing their second year of the graduate program in psychological sciences.
Ms. Janes, a member of Dr. Dunlosky’s lab, is currently interested in improving students’ comprehension and performance in courses relevant to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“With flash cards, students try to recall what they know, but some get overconfident and do not use even this simple strategy effectively, so they don’t actually get their desired results,” Ms. Janes says. “We want to know why and what kind of feedback will help students improve their learning.”
Ms. Janes is also interested in why simply attempting to judge and evaluate one’s memory actually changes the memory being evaluated. She is a co-author of a recently submitted journal article titled “Do Students Use Self-Testing Effectively Across Multiple Study Sessions When Preparing for High-Stakes Exams?”
Ms. Daley, a member of Dr. Rawson’s lab, examines the effectiveness of materials and techniques, such as studying with flash cards over multiple days and how this can enhance understanding and comprehension relevant to complex STEM concepts. She also looks at testing techniques and is interested in differential learning effects of retrieval practice, text comprehension and self-explanatory feedback. She is a co-author of a recently submitted journal article titled “Elaborations in Expository Text Impose a Substantial Time Cost but Do Not Enhance Learning.”
According to the NSF, the fellowship program recruits high-potential, early-career scientists and engineers and supports their graduate research training in STEM fields. The foundation received more than 12,000 applications and made 2,000 award offers. Launched in 1952 shortly after Congress established NSF, the fellowship program represents the nation's oldest continuous investment in the U.S. STEM workforce.
“The purpose of these fellowships is to allow them to get started with the freedom to pursue their research interests and support their long-term potential in the sciences.” Dr. Dunlosky says.