Research Center: Center for Research on Training (CRT)

Director: Alice Healy

The primary goal of training research in this center is to construct a theoretical and empirical framework that can account for and make accurate predictions about the effectiveness of different training methods over a large range of tasks, including military, industrial, vocational, and academic tasks. The ability to predict the outcomes of different training methods on particular tasks will, as a natural by-product, point to ways to optimize training outcomes. Many of the basic mechanisms of knowledge and skill acquisition are similar across a variety of perceptual, cognitive, and motor tasks. However, some specific skills have unique features that might demand special training techniques. The center focuses on an analysis of which findings, mechanisms, and principles broadly generalize across learning types and task requirements. This evaluation allows us to make specific predictions about the effectiveness of training and general recommendations to improve training that would apply to virtually any training program. The center also aims to identify the unique features of specific knowledge and skills, where they exist, and how best to train them. The center is working to develop taxonomies for both types of training and types of tasks that will span the range of training types, from classroom to simulator, and task types, from simple individual laboratory tasks to complex tasks involving team cognition. The center efforts include development of several working predictive models of training effects, making comparisons to assess their ability to account for and predict training outcomes.

In addition, the center provides a mechanism to interact with industry, government agencies, and educational institutions to produce guidelines relevant to their training needs. The center also provides an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students and for visitors from other universities and non-academic institutions (e.g., the military, federal civilian agencies, or corporations) to gain hands-on experience in experimental methodology, predictive modeling, and state-of-the-art principles of effective training.

Much of the recent research that has been conducted in the center is summarized in the volume Training cognition: Optimizing efficiency, durability and generalizability. This volume was published in 2012 by Psychology Press and was edited by Alice F. Healy and Lyle E. Bourne, Jr.

The center operates within both the Psychology Department of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS) of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado. Many participants in the center are members of either or both of these units, but some are not. The existence of the center encourages multidisciplinary collaboration among recognized experts in the field of training research. The presence of center members who are not already affiliated with Psychology and ICS broadens the resources available to students and faculty who are currently affiliated with those units.

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