Schedule for Spring 2008


January 25, 2008
-- Michael Eisenberg 
Associate Professor of Computer Science, University of Colorado
Title: "Educational Technology: Escaping from Cognitive Science" 

The language and concerns of cognitive science, as a discipline, have had an enormous and largely positive influence on the design of educational technology. When pursued to the exclusion of other viewpoints, however, those concerns tend to limit designers' imaginations. In particular, there has been a traditional focus on "schools, skills, and screens" in the design of children's technology. This talk will describe a variety of projects that we have undertaken in the Craft Technology Laboratory here at CU. In many ways, our concerns run counter to those most strongly influenced by traditional cognitive science. Rather than focus on classroom instruction, our projects look toward the larger arena of children's lives and interests outside school. Rather than focus on skill acquisition, we try to create content-rich, motivating, and dignified activities for children. And rather than focus exclusively on desktop computers and screen-based applications, we try to explore novel ways in which technology can be incorporated into a wide range of material artifacts and settings.


February 22, 2008
-- Dr. Tamara Sumner and Sebastain de la Chica
Computer Science Department, University of Colorado
Title: "Computational Infrastructure for Personalizing Instruction"  

A key finding from learning research is that every student brings preconceptions about how the world works to every learning situation, and that these initial understandings need to be explicitly targeted as part of an effective instructional process. We are developing a suite of sophisticated software algorithms capable of personalizing instruction based on a real-time analysis of what students understand about a particular topic. These algorithms use machine learning and natural language processing algorithms, coupled with graph analysis techniques, to automatically: (1) analyze student essays to assess current student understandings and misconceptions and (2) use these assessments to provide personalized retrieval, delivery, and presentation of educational resources drawn from digital libraries and other content repositories. We have demonstrated the feasibility of this approach for one target age group and science topic: high school plate tectonics. These algorithms are designed to be flexibly layered over collections of web-based learning materials, in effect making it possible to embed intelligent tutoring or adaptive learning capabilities into a wide variety of web-based learning environments. We will present two complementary prototypes of adaptive learning environments designed around these personalization algorithms. One of these prototypes is currently being used to evaluate how this approach to personalization impacts student learning.

February 29, 2008
-- Dr. Clayton Lewis, Professor of Computer Science, CU,
ICS Fellow, and Scientist in Residence at the Coleman Institute
Title: "Highlights from the 2008 Human-Computer Interaction Consortium (HCIC) conference, Winter Park, CO."


March 7, 2008
--Brenda Schick
Associate Professor of SLHS, University of Colorado
Title: "Theory of Mind (False Belief) and Language Development in Deaf Children" 

An important milestone in the development of social cognitive skills in children is the acquisition of a Theory of Mind (Tom), which is the ability to represent and reason about their own and other's beliefs. When children have acquired a Tom, they are able to see events from the perspective of other individuals. For typically-developing children, there has been a great deal of theoretical debate about what causes or underlies the acquisition of Tom.  By about age four, children show dramatic changes in their awareness of other people’s minds, often demonstrated by their understanding that other people may have beliefs that are wrong.  However, for children who are deaf, and who do not have complete access to communication, this benchmark of development often occurs much later. I will present the results of a recent large-scale study with deaf children who have deaf parents and who have hearing parents.  For the deaf children with hearing parents, we have data from children educated in ASL programs and from oral programs. These data show that language is a critical, causal variable in the development of a Tom, as shown by multiple regression analysis, even when Tom tasks that involve minimal language skills are used. I will also present data showing that a deaf child’s development of Tom is related to their mother’s ability to talk about mental state concepts, even during the early elementary years. Discussion will focus on which aspects of language are implicated in Tom abilities.

March 14, 2008
-- Mark McDaniel
Professor of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis
Title: "Improving Student Training: Importing Basic Memory Principles into the Classroom"  

Abstract: I will consider some key constructs identified in basic memory research such as the total-time hypothesis, desirable difficulty, transfer-appropriate processing, and the mnemonic effects of retrieval. I develop concrete translations of those constructs for training situations (formal educational settings), and discuss our research that evaluates how these translations fare in improving learning and retention of course content. This research includes experiments conducted in college and middle school classrooms.


April 4, 2008 
-- Lise Menn and GWAPA Team 
Professor (Emeritus) of Linguistics, University of Colorado

Abstract: Our work focuses on assistive technologies for people with mild-to moderate aphasia and other mild language disorders in the use of the World Wide Web. This medium is particularly challenging for people with language disorders because of the amount information packed into pages, complex language, idiosyncratic terminology, complexities of page layouts, and demand for language input (such as during Web search). Nevertheless, the Web and e-mail are of tremendous value to people with aphasia, who have residual reading ability, because working off-line reduces the strain and social pressures communicating face-to-face. Our group (Alison Hilger, Ling.; Kirill Kireyev, CS; Clayton Lewis, CS; Jim Martin, CS; Lise Menn, Ling.; Gail Ramsberger, SLHS), in consultation with colleagues elsewhere, is developing ways assist people with aphasia with Web use. We interview and observe people with aphasia, documenting their successes and difficulties in using the Web. Our interdisciplinary research involves methods from linguistics, cognitive science, human-computer interaction and ethnography to study the user population and challenges they face. Based on this research we develop natural language processing technologies to facilitate reading, navigation and word production in the electronic media.

April 11, 2008
-- Dr. Nora S. Newcombe 
Professor of Psychology, James H. Glackin Distinguished Faculty Fellow, Temple University
Title: "Educating Spatial Intelligence"  

5 propositions: Spatial intelligence is important. Spatial intelligence can be improved. Specific educational techniques to foster spatial intelligence are within our grasp. There are sex-linked (and SES-linked) differences in spatial intelligence. Addressing these differences is important for social equity. Reading—on my website—Taking science seriously--

April 18, 2008
-- Dr. Zygmunt Frajzyngier
Department of Linguistics, University of Colorado


May 2, 2008
ICS Student and Membership Poster Session and Fiesta