Laboratoire Cognition, Langues, Langage, Ergonomie (CLLE)
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Strategies for Effective Learning, Metacognition: Correcting Biases in Self-Evaluations of Performance, Mind-wandering: The Ultimate Personal Distraction in the Classroom

le 19 mai 2017
15 h - 17 h

Dr. Yana Weinstein, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell - Séminaire CLLE LTC

Selected Research (2017)


1. Strategies for Effective Learning

 Cognitive psychologists have made significant advances in applying cognitive processes to education in the past few decades. From this work, specific recommendations can be made for students to maximize their learning efficiency. We recently synthesized these recommendations in a new framework that involves the following three stages: planning (spaced practice and interleaving); development of understanding (elaborative interrogation, concrete examples, and dual coding); and reinforcement (retrieval practice).

Unfortunately, teachers – and, by extension, students – are less informed than we would like regarding what cognitive psychology has to offer to education. It appears that teacher-training textbooks do not thoroughly cover the principles of learning, and how to study effectively. We are trying to fill the gap in teacher training by producing resources and articles on teaching and learning strategies from cognitive psychology. In addition, we are designing interventions for students to help them study more effectively, and testing out the efficacy of these interventions.

Markovits, R. A., & Weinstein, Y. (under review). Can cognitive processes help explain the success of instructional techniques recommended by behavior analysts? Manuscript under review at npj Science of Learning.

Roediger, H. L., Finn, B. & Weinstein, Y. (2012). Improving metacognition to enhance educational practice. In S. Della Sala & M. Anderson (Eds.), Neuroscience in Education: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.

Smith, M. A., Madan, C. R., & Weinstein, Y. (in press). Four simple strategies from cognitive psychology for the classroom. E-xcellence in Teachin

Smith, M. A., & Weinstein, Y. (in press). Six strategies for effective learning. Academic Medicine.

Weinstein, Y., Madan, C. R., & Smith, M. A. (under revision). Teaching the science of learning. Manuscript under revision for Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.

Weinstein, Y., McDermott, K. B., & Roediger, H. L. (2010). A comparison of study strategies for passages: Re-reading, answering questions, and generating questions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 16, 308-316

Weinstein, Y., Nunes, L. D., & Karpicke, J. D. (2016). On the placement of practice questions during study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 22, 72-84.


2. Metacognition: Correcting Biases in Self-Evaluations of Performance 

This line of research is concerned with correcting students’ misperceptions of their own performance. Accurate metacognition is important for learning, but people are generally not very good at predicting or postdicting their own performance, and are swayed by irrelevant variables. For example, questions on a test are arranged from the most difficult to the easiest, students are about 10% more pessimistic about their performance than when the same questions are arranged in the opposite order. I have been trying to figure out why this effect happens, how it might affect study and test-taking behavior, and how this and other metacognitive biases might be eliminated.

Bard, G., & Weinstein, Y. (2017). The effect of question order on postdictions of test performance: Can the bias dissolve? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 2130-2140. 

Weinstein, Y., & Roediger, H. L. (2012). The effect of question order on evaluations of test performance: How does the bias evolve? Memory & Cognition, 40, 727-735.  

Weinstein, Y., & Roediger, H. L. (2010). Retrospective bias in test performance: Providing easy items at the beginning of a test makes students believe they did better on it. Memory & Cognition, 38, 366-376.


3. Mind-wandering: The Ultimate Personal Distraction in the Classroom

A central goal of educators is to maximize the amount of information students retain from their classes. One way to increase retention of knowledge from the classroom could be to make sure that students are maximally attentive to the material. Of course, in reality it is impossible to have the full attention of all students at all times. Students often experience “mind-wandering”: their stream of consciousness shifts from the task at hand to a topic of personal interest. To the extent that these thoughts take precedence over the classroom material, their occurrence may lead to decreased retention of information.

It may thus be important to consider ways in which mind-wandering could be reduced in the classroom. Since the field of mind-wandering exploded in 2006, researchers have looked at various factors, both internal and external, that impact levels of mind-wandering. Because the field has exploded so fast, though, the methods used to collect mind-wandering reports have not followed a set protocol; definitions of mind-wandering, and methods of measuring this construct, differ greatly from study to study. This line of research is my attempt to synthesize the field in order to find the most accurate method of measuring mind-wandering, so that we can then design teaching and learning strategies that reduce it. 

Jackson, J. D., Weinstein, Y., & Balota, D. A. (2013). Can mind-wandering be timeless? Atemporal focus and aging in mind-wandering paradigms. Frontiers in Psychology, 4.

van der Zee, T., Weinstein, Y., et al. (under review). Distracting complex or boringly simple: The effects of video complexity on learning and mind-wandering. Manuscript under review at Experimental Psychology.

Weinstein, Y. (in press). Mind-wandering, how do I measure thee with probes? Let me count the ways. Behavioral Research Methods.

Weinstein, Y., De Lima, H. J, & van der Zee, T. (under review). Are you mind-wandering, or is your mind on task? The effect of probe framing on mind-wandering reports. Revision under review for Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.   


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