Psychology

Michael Wolfe

Professor

 B.A., University of California - Santa Barbara
 M.A., Ph.D.,  University of Colorado - Boulder
 
 office: 2317 Au Sable Hall
 phone: (616) 331-2989
 email: wolfem@gvsu.edu
 
 
 OFFICE HOURS
                               

Specialization
 
Cognitive Psychology  
 
Courses Taught  
 
PSY 101 - Introductory Psychology
PSY 325 - Educational Psychology
PSY 365 - Cognition
PSY 492 - Advanced General Capstone
 
Current Research
 
I am interested in the cognitive processes that people engage in while learning. My research addresses the way in which knowledge is represented in the mind, as well as how knowledge changes during learning, and what factors influence learning. Much of this work involves the cognitive processes that take place when we comprehend text. For example, how do we go about connecting the different ideas that we encounter as we read? How do we integrate the information we are learning about with things that we already know? How do we change our comprehension processes under different circumstances or reading goals?
 
In my experiments on text comprehension, I also utilize computational models of various cognitive processes. Computational models are computer programs that are designed to implement theories about how the mind works. One model I work with (Latent Semantic Analysis) simulates how all of our knowledge might be represented in the mind. Another model, (the Construction-Integration model) simulates the cognitive process that take place during text comprehension. These models aid in research on text comprehension by, for example, providing predictions about what information people will remember from a text based on the way in which the text is written. They also can be used in a practical way to improve comprehension.
 
Some of the specific topics I am working on include:
  1. How do peoples’ beliefs influence their ability to comprehend text information that is either consistent or inconsistent with those beliefs? Does knowledge about a topic interact with beliefs in determining comprehension success? Also, what role does the reason why people hold their beliefs play in the comprehension process?

  2. If a reader is trying to learn some specific content, how does the genre of a text influence the way in which the content is processed? This question has lead to a line of experiments in which I embed factual information into narrative and expository texts, and assess how the information is processed, remembered, and used.

  3. How does processing and memory of text information change as a result of normal aging, and as a result of being in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease? My colleagues and I are examining changes in the types of information people can recall from texts as they age, and how these normal aging changes differ from people with early stage Alzheimer’s.

Representative Publications 
 
(Some of these papers can be downloaded for personal use. If you would like permission to use a reprint for a book or course pack, please contact the publisher.)
 
Wolfe, M.B., Tanner, S.M., & Taylor, A. (2013).  Processing and representation of arguments in on-sided texts about disputed topics. Discourse Processes, 50, 457-497. pdf
 
Wolfe, M. B. W. & Woodwyk, J. (in press). Processing and memory of information presented in narrative or expository texts. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 341-362.    pdf
 
Wolfe, M. B. W. & Mienko, J. A. (2007). Learning and memory of factual content from narrative and expository text. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 541-564. pdf
 
Wolfe, M. B. W. & Goldman, S. R. (2005). Relations between adolescents’ text processing and reasoning.  Cognition and Instruction, 23, 467-502. pdf
 
Wolfe, M. B. W., Magliano, J. P., & Larsen, B. (2005). Causal and semantic relatedness in discourse understanding and representation. Discourse Processes, 39, 165-187. pdf
 
Wolfe, M. B. W. (2005). Memory for narrative and expository text: Independent influences of semantic associations and text organization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 359-364. pdf
 
Wolfe, M. B. W., & Goldman, S. R. (2003). Use of Latent Semantic Analysis for predicting psychological phenomena: Two issues and proposed solutions. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 35, 22-31.
 
Wolfe, M. B. W., Schreiner, M. E., Rehder, B., Laham, D., Kintsch, W. Landauer, T. K (1998) Learning from text: Matching readers and text by Latent Semantic Analysis. Discourse Processes, 25, 309-336.

 

Page last modified May 21, 2014