B.A., University of California - Santa Barbara
M.A., Ph.D., University of Colorado - Boulder
office: 2317 Au Sable Hall
phone: (616) 331-2989
I am interested in the cognitive processes that people engage in while learning. In my research, I address 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?
2. When we read information that is contrary to our beliefs, what factors influences the extent to which we will change our beliefs? Also, when we do change our beliefs, why is it that we seem to have poor memory for what our beliefs were before the change?
3. 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.
Page last modified November 24, 2014