In This Issue

Division 21 Program Summary

Highlights of Div. 21 sessions from the 2013 APA meeting.

By Daniel G. Morrow

Division 21 had a very strong program at the annual APA meeting in Hawai’i.  People actually came to the sessions rather than lying on the beach the whole time!  I enjoyed attending most of our sessions, although with so many jointly sponsored sessions I was not able to attend them all.  I will highlight several of the sessions in this brief article.

Yi-Yuan Tang (2013 program chair) and I worked with the presidents and program chairs of Div. 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psych) and Div. 3 (General Experimental) to develop a cross-divisional program on the science of learning.  All three of these sessions were very well attended and sparked many questions and much discussion from the audience.  They all represented the blend of theoretical and practical research goals that is the hallmark of our division in APA.

The first session (also co-sponsored by Div. 20) was Gaming/Training and Lifelong Learning (ArtKramer, Raja Parasuraman, & Shawn Green).  All three presentations reflected cutting edge research that merges cognitive neuroscience with the use of technology to promote learning across the lifespan, with implications for learning in the classroom and beyond.  Art Kramer focused on the role of exercise for improving cognitive function among older adults, and how technology can be used to facilitate exercise.  Parasuraman and Green’s presentations focused on effects of playing various types of games on cognitive function, using neuroscience methods to investigate the processes that underlie game-based learning, as well as the brain areas that underlie these processes.

The second session was entitled Test-Enhanced Learning: From Lab to Classroom (Mark McDaniel & Jeff Karpicke).  Presentations from two key researchers on the benefits of testing for enhancing student learning focused on the synergy between rigorous research in the lab that helps identify how testing benefits learning (e.g., the power of retrieval practice for consolidating knowledge), and research in the classroom that points to how these principles can be leveraged to improve student performance.

The final session was Technology Innovation and Science Education (Janet Metcalfe, Gautam Biswas, and Art Graesser).  This session involved presentations about three projects that highlighted progress in integrating technology with theory-based approaches to improving student learning in classroom contexts. The Metcalfe and Biswas presentations described projects that creatively leverage game technology to support metacognitive (and other) processes in science learning. Graesser’s presentation summarized a long-running project on developing and evaluating cognitive tutors, highlighting the relation of tutoring to game-based environments.

In addition to the science of learning sessions, Division 21 co-sponsored with Division 3 and APAGS (APA graduate student organization) a session that targeted students and early career members.  The panel, entitled How to Publish Papers that Matter, included Neil Brewer, Frank Durso, Penny Sanderson, Jason McCarley, Brennan Payne, and myself.  Most of the panel members are current or previous editors or associate editors of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, with many collective years of editorial experience.  Brennan Payne, finishing his PhD at the University of Illinois, brought a different perspective to the panel: early career psychologists who are just starting to publish papers.  The session was very well attended, with a lot of young faces!  We discussed a broad range of issues related to publishing papers, including how to know when you have enough data for a paper, how to craft an effective introduction for a paper, how to respond effectively to ‘revise and resubmit’ editorial decisions, and what to do about those rejection letters we all receive from time to time.  There may have been more comments and questions from the audience than from the panel! 

I was left with the feeling that less formal ‘professional development’ sessions can work very well for broadening the impact of our programming at the annual meetings, as well as help to diversify Div. 21’s membership.