Jennifer Gross

Professor Jennifer Gross

B.A., Oakland University
M.S., Ph.D., Wayne State University
Office: 2319 AuSable Hall
Phone: (616) 331-3511
Lab: GVSU Applied Cognition Lab

Office Hours


Psycholinguistics/Applied Cognition

Courses Taught

PSY 101 -  Introductory Psychology
PSY 101 -  Honors Introductory Psychology
PSY 357 -  Psychology of Language
PSY 365 -  Cognition
HNR 313 -  Honors Junior Seminar: Language in Cognitive Science

Current Research and Publications

My two primary research areas are: applied cognitive psychology and the psychology of language.

My research in applied cognitive psychology relies heavily on my training in experimental psychology as well as my position as a human factors engineer for General Dynamics Land Systems.  Well-designed objects and devices are seamless, intuitive, and enhance the quality of our lives.  Poorly designed objects and environments are cumbersome, frustrating, or worse, dangerous.  Entry doors, like those at Mackinac Hall, thwart and embarrass their users who pull instead of push, or push on the wrong side of the handle.  Smart devices remain underutilized, because optimal use requires consulting the accompanying manual.  Applied cognitive psychologists conduct research to support better engineering designs.  My applied research has involved disparate groups of participants (severely impaired dementia sufferers, soldiers, college students) and diverse, applied questions.  For example, in a series of studies, my research team investigated if persons with moderate to severe dementia had the required skills necessary to benefit from prosthetic signage (names and photographic labels) as navigational aids to facilitate wayfinding and locating personal belongings in long term care facilities.  (Bolded text denotes student collaborators).

Gross, J., Harmon, M. E., Myers, R. A., Evans, R. L., Kay, N. R., Rodriguez- Charbonier, S., & Herzog, T. R. (2004). Recognition of self among persons with dementia: Picture vs. names as environmental supports. Environment & Behavior, 36(3), 424-454.

Applied research has the potential to improve the quality of education for college students.  Just as there is no one ice cream flavor that appeals to all, our research established that few teachers appear to be effective for all.  It is not uncommon for students to seek out resources such as when making course selections.  Teaching trailers may offer an alternative.  Our research team investigated if teaching trailers could help GVSU students wisely chose among prospective teachers, similar to how movie trailers allow you to screen films for Friday-night worthiness.  Six-minute teaching trailers were created for 10 guest lecturers.   Like movie trailers, the teaching trailers were brief glimpses of a teacher in action.  In the study, 150 students watched teaching trailers for teachers who delivered live lectures later in the semester.  Students ratings to the teaching trailers powerfully forecasted students’ responses to, and memory for, the live lectures.  Our 6-minute teaching trailers proved to be an effective, empirically-validated means for students to wisely judge teachers.  Perhaps GVSU “should consider setting up a commercial website ‘’ and make a bundle competing with shabbier sites,” suggests Prof. Henderson, Chair of Psychology.  (Bolded text denotes student collaborators).

Gross, J., Lakey, B., Edinger, K., Orehek, E., & Heffron, D. (2009). Person perception in the college classroom: Accounting for tastes in students’ evaluations of teaching effectiveness. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 1609-1638.

Gross, J., Lakey, B., Lucas, J. L., & LaCross, R., Plotkowski, A. R., Winegard, B. (2015). Forecasting the student-professor matches that result in unusually effective teaching. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 19-32. DOI:10.1111/bjep.12049

Another line of research investigates the psychology of language.  Language plays a central role in our lives.  We chat with friends, read novels, enjoy the lyrics of music, convey our feelings, teach our children, and transmit scientific discoveries to future generations via language. Your ability to read these words is just one example of language in action.  Most of us, however, don't stop to ponder our linguistic prowess.  My research explores our linguistic talents by relying on insights derived from cross-disciplinary studies in linguistics and psychology. 

Can YOU iMAGine an APP that HELPS you HEAR the RHYTHm of TEXT?  English has a rhythm, similar to how music has a beat.  Because the stress-alternating rhythm of English is not marked in print, it must be inferred when fluently reading aloud and silently.  At all ages, prosody sensitivity plays a role in reading abilities.  For example, even after controlling for working memory differences, prosodic awareness accounted for adults’ word-reading abilities (Chan & Wade-Woolley, 2016).  Our ongoing experiments are evaluating whether less fluent readers might benefit from marking stress explicitly in written English.  Our prosody training app may cultivate prosody sensitivity by transforming ordinary text to rhythmically enhanced text.  Check it out at:


Gross, J., Millett, A.L., Bartek, B., Bredell, K.H., Winegard, B. (2014). Evidence for prosody in reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 49(2), 189-208. doi:10.1002/rrq.67

Gross, J., Winegard, B., Plotkowski, A. R., (in press). Marking stress exPLICitly in written English fosters rhythm in the reader’s inner voice. Reading Research Quarterly.

Prosody Pup

“Hey, there! I’m Prosody Pup. I’ve set up lessons to help you learn prosody, which is the melody of language. The meaning of a sentence, or even a word, can change based on rhythm.  With my help, you will be a prosody pro in no time!”

Page last modified January 11, 2018