The present study examines student evaluations of teaching (SETs) at a large, public university. We evaluate end-point use across different scales and examine how well evaluation items predict overall instruction and course ratings among several majors. We find that students use the upper endpoints of scales more often when rating female professors compared to male professors. We also find that students use endpoints more often when using a 10-point 4-letter grading scale compared to a 7-point Likert-type scale. Hierarchical Bayesian regressions reveal, at the population level, that items pertaining to the instructor's clarity, engagement, knowledge, and fairness of grading best predict the rating of the instructor, while items pertaining to the course’s usefulness in developing future skills and the match between course objective and outcomes best predict the rating of the overall value of the course.
Prof. Cheng-Ta Yang
Previous studies have demonstrated the benefits of exercise for attentional control. However, the underlying processing mechanism remains unknown. Here, we investigated whether such exercise-induced cognitive benefits are associated with more efficient information processing. Forty-four participants participated in a 4-week aerobic exercise program. We employed System Factorial Technology (Townsend & Nozawa, 1995) and a redundant-target task to examine the changes in resilience capacity, a measure of the relative processing efficiency for two targets to that for a target with a distractor. Results revealed resilience capacity became smaller after exercise intervention although the RTs became faster. Further analysis revealed that the change in resilience capacity may be due to the violation of context invariance, which is in line with the selective improvement hypothesis (Colcombe & Kramer, 2003). These results shed light on the processing mechanism underlying exercise-induced changes in attentional control, and future studies should interpret the exercise effect with caution.
Words can vary in many dimensions and a variety of lexical, semantic, and affective properties have previously been associated with variability in recall performance. Free recall data was used from 147 participants across 20 experimental sessions from the Penn Electrophysiology of Encoding and Retrieval Study (PEERS) dataset, across 1638 words. Here I consider how well 20 different word properties—across lexical, semantic, and affective dimensions—relate to free recall. Semantic dimensions, particularly animacy (better memory for living), usefulness (with respect to survival; better memory for useful), and size (better memory for larger), demonstrated the strongest relationships with recall probability. These key results were then examined and replicated in the free recall data from Lau et al. (2018), which had 532 words and 116 participants. This comprehensive investigation of a variety of word memorability demonstrates that semantic and function-related psycholinguistic properties play an important role in verbal memory processes.
Prof. Pernille Hemmer
Intentional Binding (IB) is often used as an implicit measure of the sense of agency (SoA). Given the fundamental nature of the SoA, one would expect the presence of IB at the individual level. We compared aggregate vs. individual data in a pilot study as well as in a publicly available dataset. Aggregate results replicated the expected directionality for action and outcome binding for both studies. Crucially, inter-individual analyses across conditions revealed almost half of participants in the pilot study (N=15/35) and more than half of participants in the public dataset (N=11/20) had mean binding values for either action or outcome that were in the opposite of the expected direction. This is unexpected given the directionality of the perceived timing of events is critical to the IB effect. The misuse of averaging and the inconsistency of analyses in this domain will also be discussed along with implications for future research.
Prof. Pernille Hemmer
A prominent theory in the cognitive science of religion proposes that supernatural concepts are ubiquitous across cultures because they possess a “minimally counterintuitive” structure, which improves their memorability relative to natural concepts. So-called minimally counterintuitive (MCI) concepts contain one or a few characteristics that violate intuitive ontological theories, which makes them salient. By contrast, “maximally counterintuitive” (MXCI) concepts are purported to be less memorable than their MCI counterparts because they contain too many such violations. However, the fact that supernatural characteristics contain violations of intuitive theories is not the only way they differ from natural characteristics. We organize natural and supernatural characteristics generated by experimental participants into a multi-dimensional hierarchical structure and discuss the semantic organization of supernatural and natural concepts. We suggest that this methodology highlights subtler distinctions between supernatural and natural characteristics that dispense with the need for a novel memory mechanism involving violations of intuitive ontological theories.
Jeremy B. Caplan
Models of association memory make predictions about within pair order (AB vs. BA), either implying that order judgments of a retrieved pair should be at chance or perfect. Behaviour contradicts both predictions, when the pair can be recalled, order judgment is above chance, but still fairly low. We test two incremental modifications to symmetric, convolution-based models (which otherwise predict chance order judgment performance): 1) Encoding the item’s position as a subset of its features. 2) Position-specific permutations of item features. #1 achieved a close fit to order recognition data but compromised the well-known property of associative symmetry. #2 did not exhibit any reduction in symmetry but slightly overpredicted the dependence of order judgments on recall. In sum, simultaneously satisfying benchmark characteristics of association and order memory provides challenging constraints for existing models of association.
Amy H. Criss
A common method of experimental control in the study of intellectual disability in children is mental age matching, which allows for meaningful comparisons between intellectually disabled children and typically developing children that consider the inherent differences in developmental rates between these two groups. One's mental age is proportional to the product of one's IQ and one's chronological age. It follows that development on IQ tests is measurably linear with chronological age. We test this implication by first reverse engineering the distribution of raw scores on the subscales of three common kinds of IQ tests--Stanford Binet, Wechsler Abbreviated Intelligence Scale, and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children--and then determining whether these scores are linear using Bayesian Information Criterion comparisons of segmented regressions. We find linearity in only one subscale, imposing limitations on the accuracy of the mental age matching protocol.
Cheng Ju Hsieh
Prof. Cheng-Ta Yang
We examined how task context (i.e., task rules and task difficulty) affects collective decisions. The Systems Factorial Technology was adopted to infer group decision-making efficiency. A T/L conjunction search task was conducted. Participants had to search for 0/1/2 Ts among 25/60 Ls. Specifically, in Experiment 1, participants had to detect the presence of any target (i.e., OR search rule); in Experiment 2, participants had to report the number of targets (i.e., AND search rule). Our results revealed supercapacity processing in both tasks, suggesting collective benefit. However, how task difficulties affected the collective benefit differed depending on the task rules. With an OR rule, collective benefit was unaffected by the number of distractors; by contrast, with an AND rule, collective benefit increased as the number of distractors increased. Together, our results suggested that under suitable task difficulty and appropriate decision rule, group decision-making would outperform individual decisions with more efficient processing.