skip to main content

Title: Understanding the Complexities of Chinese Word Acquisition Within an Online Learning Platform
Because Chinese reading and writing systems are not phonetic, Mandarin Chinese learners must construct six-way mental connections in order to learn new words, linking characters, meanings, and sounds. Little research has focused on the difficulties inherent to each specific component involved in this process, especially within digital learning environments. The present work examines Chinese word acquisition within ASSISTments, an online learning platform traditionally known for mathematics education. Students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions in which researchers manipulated a learning assignment to exclude one of three bi-directional connections thought to be required for Chinese language acquisition (i.e., sound-meaning and meaning-sound). Researchers then examined whether students’ performance differed significantly when the learning assignment lacked sound-character, character-meaning, or meaning-sound connection pairs, and whether certain problem types were more difficult for students than others. Assessment of problems by component type (i.e., characters, meanings, and sounds) revealed support for the relative ease of problems that provided sounds, with students exhibiting higher accuracy with fewer attempts and less need for system feedback when sounds were included. However, analysis revealed no significant differences in word acquisition by condition, as evidenced by next-day post-test scores or pre- to post-test gain scores. Implications and suggestions for more » future work are discussed. « less
; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
11th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Humans are born as “universal listeners” without a bias toward any particular language. However, over the first year of life, infants’ perception is shaped by learning native speech categories. Acoustically different sounds—such as the same word produced by different speakers—come to be treated as functionally equivalent. In natural environments, these categories often emerge incidentally without overt categorization or explicit feedback. However, the neural substrates of category learning have been investigated almost exclusively using overt categorization tasks with explicit feedback about categorization decisions. Here, we examined whether the striatum, previously implicated in category learning, contributes to incidental acquisition of sound categories.more »In the fMRI scanner, participants played a videogame in which sound category exemplars aligned with game actions and events, allowing sound categories to incidentally support successful game play. An experimental group heard nonspeech sound exemplars drawn from coherent category spaces, whereas a control group heard acoustically similar sounds drawn from a less structured space. Although the groups exhibited similar in-game performance, generalization of sound category learning and activation of the posterior striatum were significantly greater in the experimental than control group. Moreover, the experimental group showed brain–behavior relationships related to the generalization of all categories, while in the control group these relationships were restricted to the categories with structured sound distributions. Together, these results demonstrate that the striatum, through its interactions with the left superior temporal sulcus, contributes to incidental acquisition of sound category representations emerging from naturalistic learning environments.

    « less
  2. Handwriting practice is the most time-consuming activity for learners of Chinese as a foreign language (CFL). CFL instructors report allocating at least one third of their course time to handwriting practice although it prevents students from engaging in meaningful communication, especially in the earliest stages of learning. Given the amount of time students spend in a college course is relatively fixed, the preregistered study presented herein examines the best use of students’ time when primary goals are word acquisition and communication. This work replicates a pilot study examining CFL word recognition in an online learning environment (ASSISTments) and the effectsmore »of supplemental handwriting practice. We examined word acquisition and recognition while manipulating condition (no-handwriting practice and with-handwriting practice), and posttest test point (1 [immediate], 2 [1 day delay], and 3 [1 week delay]). Two-way repeated measures analyses of variance revealed significant main effects for both condition and posttest test point in online and on-paper measures of word recognition and handwriting. Potential implications for CFL instruction and directions for future work are discussed.« less
  3. In recent years, it has increasingly been recognized that spatial visualization skills are important in supporting student success in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and retention of these students in STEM careers. Many first year college engineering programs and high schools with pre-engineering curriculum have incorporated spatial visualization training into their courses. However, there is no reason why spatial visualization training could not occur at a much younger age, like elementary school. Often at the high school and college level, the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations (PSVT:R), which is recognized as a gold standard assessment tool, is usedmore »to measure students’ spatial skills learning gains. The PSVT:R is a 20 minute timed test consisting of 30 three-dimensional rotations problems. While the PSVT:R test has been well validated, there are benefits to developing alternative methods of assessing spatial visualization skills suitable for elementary school grades. Researchers at XXX developed an assembly pre- and post- test based upon a timed Lego™ exercise. Students are timed to see how long it would take them to build small Lego shapes using only a picture of the final assembly, but no instructions. The test was implemented at the beginning and then at the end of the quarter/semester. The beauty of this assessment is that it lends itself well to K-12 students. The 20 minute, timed PSVT:R test is too challenging for elementary aged children and is not engaging. In order to validate the new instrument, the Lego™ Assembly test was implemented in a pilot study in 2 college freshman engineering courses using students who could do both the PSVT:R and the Lego Assembly™ assessments. At the beginning of the class all students took the PSVT:R test, and half the students performed a Lego™ assembly of one shape and the other half did the assembly test with another shape. During the class the students completed spatial visualization training which taught them how to sketch orthographic and isometric assignments using a mobile sketching app. At the end of the class the PSVT:R test was repeated for all students. The Lego Assembly™ test was also completed, but the students switched which shape they were building. This approach allowed us to normalize the difficulty of the assembly tasks based upon the average time it took to build the shapes in the pre-test. The Lego Assembly™ test was first implemented in winter and spring of 2018. The data showed a correlation of the R-Squared of 0.11 between the assembly times and the PSVT:R scores in pre-test and 0.14 in post-test. However, analysis of the assembly times indicated that the difficulty of the 2 Lego shapes were significantly different, which could skew the normalization of the assembly times. Accordingly, the test was repeated in winter and spring 2019 with Lego shapes of similar difficulty. This paper describes the results of the assembly tess in all 4 classes, and its suitability for a spatial visualization assessment for elementary school age students.« less
  4. Prior studies have explored the potential of erroneous examples in helping students learn more effectively by correcting errors in solutions to decimal problems. One recent study found that while students experience more confusion and frustration (confrustion) when working with erroneous examples, they demonstrate better retention of decimal concepts. In this study, we investigated whether this finding could be replicated in a digital learning game. In the erroneous examples (ErrEx) version of the game, students saw a character play the games and make mistakes, and then they corrected the characters’ errors. In the problem solving (PS) version, students played the gamesmore »by themselves. We found that confrustion was significantly, negatively correlated with performance in both pretest (r = -.62, p < .001) and posttest (r = -.68, p < .001) and so was gaming the system (pretest r = -.58, p < .001, posttest r = -.66, p < .001). Posthoc (Tukey) tests indicated that students who did not see any erroneous examples (PS-only) experienced significantly lower levels of confrustion (p < .001) and gaming (p < .001). While we did not find significant differences in post-test performance across conditions, our findings show that students working with erroneous examples experience consistently higher levels of confrustion in both game and non-game contexts.« less
  5. Abstract Expert testimony varies in scientific quality and jurors have a difficult time evaluating evidence quality (McAuliff et al., 2009). In the current study, we apply Fuzzy Trace Theory principles, examining whether visual and gist aids help jurors calibrate to the strength of scientific evidence. Additionally we were interested in the role of jurors’ individual differences in scientific reasoning skills in their understanding of case evidence. Contrary to our preregistered hypotheses, there was no effect of evidence condition or gist aid on evidence understanding. However, individual differences between jurors’ numeracy skills predicted evidence understanding. Summary Poor-quality expert evidence is sometimesmore »admitted into court (Smithburn, 2004). Jurors’ calibration to evidence strength varies widely and is not robustly understood. For instance, previous research has established jurors lack understanding of the role of control groups, confounds, and sample sizes in scientific research (McAuliff, Kovera, & Nunez, 2009; Mill, Gray, & Mandel, 1994). Still others have found that jurors can distinguish weak from strong evidence when the evidence is presented alone, yet not when simultaneously presented with case details (Smith, Bull, & Holliday, 2011). This research highlights the need to present evidence to jurors in a way they can understand. Fuzzy Trace Theory purports that people encode information in exact, verbatim representations and through “gist” representations, which represent summary of meaning (Reyna & Brainerd, 1995). It is possible that the presenting complex scientific evidence to people with verbatim content or appealing to the gist, or bottom-line meaning of the information may influence juror understanding of that evidence. Application of Fuzzy Trace Theory in the medical field has shown that gist representations are beneficial for helping laypeople better understand risk and benefits of medical treatment (Brust-Renck, Reyna, Wilhelms, & Lazar, 2016). Yet, little research has applied Fuzzy Trace Theory to information comprehension and application within the context of a jury (c.f. Reyna et. al., 2015). Additionally, it is likely that jurors’ individual characteristics, such as scientific reasoning abilities and cognitive tendencies, influence their ability to understand and apply complex scientific information (Coutinho, 2006). Methods The purpose of this study was to examine how jurors calibrate to the strength of scientific information, and whether individual difference variables and gist aids inspired by Fuzzy Trace Theory help jurors better understand complicated science of differing quality. We used a 2 (quality of scientific evidence: high vs. low) x 2 (decision aid to improve calibration - gist information vs. no gist information), between-subjects design. All hypotheses were preregistered on the Open Science Framework. Jury-eligible community participants (430 jurors across 90 juries; Mage = 37.58, SD = 16.17, 58% female, 56.93% White). Each jury was randomly assigned to one of the four possible conditions. Participants were asked to individually fill out measures related to their scientific reasoning skills prior to watching a mock jury trial. The trial was about an armed bank robbery and consisted of various pieces of testimony and evidence (e.g. an eyewitness testimony, police lineup identification, and a sweatshirt found with the stolen bank money). The key piece of evidence was mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) evidence collected from hair on a sweatshirt (materials from Hans et al., 2011). Two experts presented opposing opinions about the scientific evidence related to the mtDNA match estimate for the defendant’s identification. The quality and content of this mtDNA evidence differed based on the two conditions. The high quality evidence condition used a larger database than the low quality evidence to compare to the mtDNA sample and could exclude a larger percentage of people. In the decision aid condition, experts in the gist information group presented gist aid inspired visuals and examples to help explain the proportion of people that could not be excluded as a match. Those in the no gist information group were not given any aid to help them understand the mtDNA evidence presented. After viewing the trial, participants filled out a questionnaire on how well they understood the mtDNA evidence and their overall judgments of the case (e.g. verdict, witness credibility, scientific evidence strength). They filled this questionnaire out again after a 45-minute deliberation. Measures We measured Attitudes Toward Science (ATS) with indices of scientific promise and scientific reservations (Hans et al., 2011; originally developed by National Science Board, 2004; 2006). We used Drummond and Fischhoff’s (2015) Scientific Reasoning Scale (SRS) to measure scientific reasoning skills. Weller et al.’s (2012) Numeracy Scale (WNS) measured proficiency in reasoning with quantitative information. The NFC-Short Form (Cacioppo et al., 1984) measured need for cognition. We developed a 20-item multiple-choice comprehension test for the mtDNA scientific information in the cases (modeled on Hans et al., 2011, and McAuliff et al., 2009). Participants were shown 20 statements related to DNA evidence and asked whether these statements were True or False. The test was then scored out of 20 points. Results For this project, we measured calibration to the scientific evidence in a few different ways. We are building a full model with these various operationalizations to be presented at APLS, but focus only on one of the calibration DVs (i.e., objective understanding of the mtDNA evidence) in the current proposal. We conducted a general linear model with total score on the mtDNA understanding measure as the DV and quality of scientific evidence condition, decision aid condition, and the four individual difference measures (i.e., NFC, ATS, WNS, and SRS) as predictors. Contrary to our main hypotheses, neither evidence quality nor decision aid condition affected juror understanding. However, the individual difference variables did: we found significant main effects for Scientific Reasoning Skills, F(1, 427) = 16.03, p <.001, np2 = .04, Weller Numeracy Scale, F(1, 427) = 15.19, p <.001, np2 = .03, and Need for Cognition, F(1, 427) = 16.80, p <.001, np2 = .04, such that those who scored higher on these measures displayed better understanding of the scientific evidence. In addition there was a significant interaction of evidence quality condition and scores on the Weller’s Numeracy Scale, F(1, 427) = 4.10, p = .04, np2 = .01. Further results will be discussed. Discussion These data suggest jurors are not sensitive to differences in the quality of scientific mtDNA evidence, and also that our attempt at helping sensitize them with Fuzzy Trace Theory-inspired aids did not improve calibration. Individual scientific reasoning abilities and general cognition styles were better predictors of understanding this scientific information. These results suggest a need for further exploration of approaches to help jurors differentiate between high and low quality evidence. Note: The 3rd author was supported by an AP-LS AP Award for her role in this research. Learning Objective: Participants will be able to describe how individual differences in scientific reasoning skills help jurors understand complex scientific evidence.« less