Optimizing Education and Training with Effective Learning Strategies

Faculty Sponsor: 
Bjork, Elizabeth
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Pan, Steven
Description of Research Project: 
Learning science has uncovered several methods that can be highly effective at improving one's ability to acquire, retain, and apply information. These methods have the potential to transform education and training by helping students learn in more efficient and effective ways. One of those methods is practice testing (wherein learners attempt to retrieve information from memory, either before or after a lecture, assigned reading, or other instructional activity). Another method is to alternate between a series of to-be-learned topics during training (also called interleaving). We are currently engaged in a series of studies that are designed to uncover circumstances under which practice testing, interleaving, and other related methods exert learning benefits, find ways to maximize such benefits, and investigate the cognitive mechanisms that may be engaged by their use.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants in the Bjork lab will have the opportunity to engage in learning science research from multiple fronts, including such areas as: the data collection process (i.e., scheduling, running, and observing participants in laboratory experiments); data scoring and coding; data interpretation and analysis (including at our weekly undergraduate lab seminar meetings); and potentially in the development and pilot-testing of experiments. They will also have the opportunity to work with either graduate, postdoctoral, or faculty lab members. Having availability to commit time to the lab on two or more days of the week is encouraged. Prior programming experience is welcome but not required. This lab experience can serve as valuable preparation and relevant experience for graduate school.

Motor cortex network dynamics during skilled motor behavior

Faculty Sponsor: 
Golshani, Peyman
Department: 
Neurology
Contact Name: 
Ahmet Arac
Description of Research Project: 
The primary goal of this research is to understand the relationship between learned behaviors and neuron activity in the M1 region of the cerebral cortex. We are interested in capturing the changes in neuron activity as the mouse increases skill in the learned motor behavior. The lab measures learned behaviors and neuron activity simultaneously using two separate observations. The learned behavior is observed through deep learning computer vision applications and is used to calculate kinematic movements of paws of the mice. Neuronal activity is recorded in-vivo using two-photon calcium imaging.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
The student research assistance will be responsible in conducting experiments, handling the mice, and fine-tuning deep learning neural networks for optimized computer vision applications. The assistance will aid in the process of training subjects for the experiments. The assistance must be comfortable or be willing to learn how to handle rodents as well as gone through the necessary animal and safety training mandated by UCLA. It is preferred that the assistant is familiar with machine learning methods as well as python programming to aid in the behavioral analysis.

Subjective perception in the periphery

Faculty Sponsor: 
Lau, Hakwan
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
JD Knotts
Room Number: 
Franz 3284
Phone: 
8053901894
Description of Research Project: 
Several psychophysical experiments will be conducted to investigate potential differences in subjective awareness between central and peripheral vision. Study participants will subjectively rate first order motion and orientation judgments for both centrally and peripherally presented visual stimuli. The resulting behavioral data will be analyzed to ask whether subjective judgments differ between central and peripheral conditions when objective task performance (e.g., left-right motion or orientation discrimination) is matched.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
The research assistant will help design and carry out the necessary psychophysical experiments. They will schedule and run study participants, which will include corresponding with study participants, obtaining informed consent, running experimental scripts in Matlab, and explaining experiment instructions. They will also help in the organization, analysis, and interpretation of the resulting data. At the end of the quarter the research assistant will write up methods, results, and discussion for the experiments they helped conduct, and will design theoretical follow-up studies for future investigation. They will also attend weekly lab meetings to discuss and sometimes present on the progress of the experiments as they unfold.

QRClab: Open Science Practices

Faculty Sponsor: 
Montoya, Amanda
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Amanda Montoya
Room Number: 
LSB 5324
Phone: 
3107945069
Description of Research Project: 
AUTUMN 2019 PROJECT: The lab is currently working on a project related to Open Science practices in Psychology. A new type of research publication has become available over the last few years: Registered Reports. For these papers researchers submit their Introduction, Methods, and Data Analysis plan to a journal before collecting data. Reviewers provide feedback for the proposed study, and if accepted the manuscript will be accepted regardless of the results of the study. In this project we are reviewing different journal’s policies on this new type of publication to provide clearer information to psychologists about the expectations when submitting this new type of publication.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants will help with tasks to help examine how specific statistical methods are being used in psychology and other social science fields. Expansion of the research assistant’s tasks will be based on both commitment and interest. There may be opportunities to analyze data, ask your own research question, and/or assist with computer programming tasks. Because of the training involved, we prefer candidates who can commit to working in the lab for at least three quarters. You can read more about the current research projects on the lab webpage: akmontoya.com Day to day tasks will involve coding journal policy pages, working with data in Excel, literature searches, and reading/editing manuscript drafts. Students often come to the lab from a wide range of backgrounds, but the most important qualifications are an eagerness to learn, interest in quantitative psychology, and confidence in your analytical and mathematical skills.

Testing the Effects of Gameplay on Learning: Developing and Validating Measures of Children’s Understanding of Science and Engineering Concepts

Faculty Sponsor: 
Chung, Gregory
Department: 
Education / CRESST
Contact Name: 
Greg Chung
E-mail: 
Room Number: 
GSEIS 101D
Phone: 
310.794.4392
Description of Research Project: 
The primary goal of this research is to develop new ways of measuring young children’s understanding of science and engineering concepts resulting from playing learning games. We are working with PBS KIDS on the design and testing of science and engineering games targeting children 4 to 8 years old. A major aspect of the work is to develop two kinds of measures: (a) outcome measures, which include measures of knowledge and measures of performance (i.e., hands-on performance tasks); and (b) game-based measures of learning, which includes using game telemetry (data from children’s behavior in the game) to derive measures of learning. Learning games are becoming increasingly accepted as one tool that can be used to promote learning in an engaging way. When judiciously designed with learning as a focus, games can promote exploration, problem solving, reasoning, and strategy use. One area of active exploration is how to use games as a measuring tool--can gameplay be a source of information that yields insight about the process of learning? How can such processes be measured? What is the quality of these measures? This project explores the general question of the extent to which gameplay can promote learning, and in particular how to measure the learning processes and cognitive and affective outcomes of gameplay. The kinds of studies conducted include randomized-controlled trials, small-scale usability testing, and internal paper testing. We collect data in preschool and informal afterschool settings across the LA region, conduct one-on-one assessments with children, observe gameplay, and use iPads or laptops to deliver the games.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants will be expected to be involved in the preparation for and execution of data collection, help with data entry and coding of data, conduct targeted literature reviews, support senior researchers as needed, and attend a weekly 1.5hr class meeting. Research assistants are expected to commit to 2 quarters / 10-15 hrs. a week. Depending on background, experience, interest, availability, and project needs, research assistants may be choose to focus on one or more areas: (a) data analysis; (b) algorithm development; (c) synthesizing the literature; (d) developing study materials; or (e) field data collection. Minimal background and experience needed. This project will be relevant to students interested in applied research, early childhood education, games in education, measuring learning processes with gameplay data, classroom data collection, and algorithm development. The experience gained will be useful for those interested in graduate school (cognitive science, psychology, computer science, education) and industry (game development, data science, UI/UX).

Phenotype Harmonization in WGSPD

Faculty Sponsor: 
Reise, Steven P.
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Maxwell Mansolf
Room Number: 
Franz 3584
Phone: 
760-445-0818
Description of Research Project: 
The Whole Genome Sequencing of Psychiatric Disorders (WGSPD) Consortium is an international collaboration that aims to identify the genetic underpinnings of major psychiatric disorders, with an emphasis on mood and psychotic disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Specifically, we aim to analyse individual-level data across for large projects in order to link genotypes, or an individual's specific set of genetic variants, with phenotypes, or specific components of an individual's psychological profile. A major methodological hurdle in this research is the need for integrative data analysis, a new alternative to meta-analysis which aggregates raw data across disparate studies instead of summary statistics or p-values. Specifically, measures of cognitive ability, such as performance on the Pennsylvania cognitive battery, need to be "harmonized" across studies in order to aggregate the item-level data for cross-study genetic analyses. Harmonizing these cognitive measures requires examining their relationships with covariates such as age, diagnostic status, and the other cognitive tests in the battery, in order to guarantee that the measures are comparable across the various studies.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Two undergraduate students will perform the harmonization analyses for cognitive tasks from the Pennsylvania cognitive battery, including the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), digit span, letter-number sequencing, vocabulary and verbal learning, and trail making tasks. Specific student responsibilities include the following: -Data cleaning and management, including CITI training for human subjects data -Researching the various cognitive tasks, including determining which task variables are of interest and how those variables are expected to relate to covariates such as age, diagnostic status, and performance on other cognitive tasks -Performing descriptive analyses to determine the extent to which these expected relationships hold in the data -Performing descriptive and inferential analyses to determine the extent to which these relationships are the same in the various WGSPD data sets -Performing factor analyses on sets of cognitive tasks and providing quality-controlled factor scores to the WGSPD consortium for use in genetic analyses.

Early childhood language development: Associations between classroom and child characteristics

Faculty Sponsor: 
Bailey, Alison
Department: 
Education
Contact Name: 
Anne Blackstock-Bernstein
Description of Research Project: 
The goal of this study is to understand low-income children’s language experiences in Head Start preschool classrooms. How do children’s language experiences differ as a function of child-level characteristics, such as temperament and language proficiency? For this mixed-methods study, we are collecting data through the use of classroom observations, child assessments, parent surveys, and teacher focus groups. It is a great opportunity for RAs who are interested in working with children and want to be involved in multiple phases of a research project.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
We are looking for 3 research assistants to help with all aspects of the project. Spanish fluency is strongly preferred, but non-Spanish speakers should still apply. Applicants should be motivated and detail-oriented, as you’ll be an integral part of this research project. We are looking for a time commitment of at least 8 hours/week, and RAs are expected to commit to at least 3 consecutive quarters. Research assistants will be trained to conduct one-on-one language assessments with children (using the preLAS 2000, which uses games and toys to learn about children’s oral language skills) as well as how to use standardized protocols to conduct classroom observations. In addition to collecting data, RAs will attend weekly lab meetings as well as assist with data entry, management, analysis, and transcription (depending on student interest and background). Because most of your time will be spent in classrooms with children, experience working/playing with children is a plus. It is also preferable for RAs to have access to transportation, because data collection will happen at Head Start sites off-campus. If you are interested, please email Anne Blackstock-Bernstein at annebb@ucla.edu with a cover letter describing your goals and interest in the project, resume/CV, and an unofficial transcript. We look forward to hearing from you!

Adaptive Learning: Teaching with Computers

Faculty Sponsor: 
Kellman, Philip
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Rachel Older
Room Number: 
2349
Phone: 
(310) 825-4202
Description of Research Project: 
Computer-based learning activities offer great potential to adapt the flow of learning events to optimize progress for each individual. Can adaptive learning algorithms that dynamically sequence learning items result in improved efficiency for factual learning and pattern recognition? The current study is concerned with basic research in adaptive learning and will examine if adaptive sequencing based on accuracy, speed, and retirement criteria, produce learning outcomes superior to traditional classroom methods.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants would help in the collection of data by grading assessments, data entry, and general office work for at least 7 hours per week and will have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of research, including literature search, study design, experimental design, and data analysis. Experience with programming is a plus, but not required. Psych 120A&B are highly recommended.

Human action perception

Faculty Sponsor: 
Lu, Hongjing
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Lu, Hongjing
Room Number: 
6552 Franz Hall
Phone: 
(310) 2062587
Description of Research Project: 
We are interested in how the visual system represents and identifies human action in a motion sequence. It is crucial to perceive and interpret human body movements to be able to interact with other people well. This research explores the underlying information use of visual input in a series of psychophysical experiments.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will be involved in conducting experiments, data collection and organization. Students also have the opportunity to aid in the design of new experiments and the development of computational modeling. Students are encouraged to be involved in the new experiments for the preparation for the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC) at UCLA.

Perceptual Learning: Teaching with Computers

Faculty Sponsor: 
Kellman, Philip J.
Department: 
Psychology - Cognitive Science
Contact Name: 
Everett Mettler
Room Number: 
6530 or 2349
Phone: 
310/825-4202
Description of Research Project: 
How do learners get better at searching, organizing and interpreting their visual world? Do the same processes that underlie perception of movement in sport, discovery in art, facility with puzzles and other forms of visual expertise also underly such practical skills as fluency in mathematics or proficiency in medical diagnosis? The current study is concerned with basic research in perceptual learning and object recognition. In addition we attempt to isolate and train visual skills using computer software that dynamically adapts to a learner's mental state.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants would help in the collection of data by running subjects at least 7 hours per week. Opportunities would be provided for assistants to collaborate in the generation of new experiments, analysis of data, and independent research. Experience with programming is a plus, but not required. Psych 120A or B are highly recommended.

Prior knowledge in high-level cognition

Faculty Sponsor: 
Lu, Hongjing
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Lu, Hongjing
Room Number: 
6552 Franz Hall
Phone: 
(310) 2062587
Description of Research Project: 
We study predictive, diagnostic and analogical reasoning from a computational perspective. We are especially interested in what prior knowledge humans assume in making an inference from few examples. Our research aims to develop computational models for a range of reasoning experiments, and assess the validity of computational models by comparing their predictions with human performance in controlled experiments.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will be involved in conducting experiments, data collection and organization. Students also have the opportunity to aid in the design of new experiments and the development of computational modeling. Students are encouraged to be involved in the new experiments for the preparation for the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC) at UCLA.

Visual Object Recognition

Faculty Sponsor: 
Liu, Zili
Department: 
Psychology-Cognitive
Contact Name: 
Dr. Zili Liu
Room Number: 
7619 Franz
Phone: 
310-267-4683
Description of Research Project: 
This National Science Foundation sponsored research investigates how the brain encodes into memory visually perceived scenes and objects (e.g., faces). Counter-intuitive predictions, with promising pilot data, will be tested.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Responsibilities include scheduling experiments on experimentrix, conducting the experiments, and debriefing the participant after each experiment.