About

The Education & Cognition Laboratory (EdCog Lab) is part of the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. Here we apply an understanding of cognitive mechanisms to the practical problems of instructional design, training and the scholarship of teaching and learning using a variety of tools including cognitive and behavioural testing, eye-tracking, and EEG.

 

We are currently focusing on four areas of research:

Learning complex concepts and transferring knowledge to solve novel problems

We are examining how different types of instructions and study conditions foster test performance and transfer of learning – applying learned knowledge to solve novel problems. Specifically, we want to see how individuals process statistics concepts and then use the concepts to recognize and solve novel problems. The ultimate goal is to attempt to understand the mechanisms behind transfer of learning and identify the conditions under which it is facilitated.

Working memory and multimedia instruction

What is the best way to design multimedia instruction? We aim to investigate this by using eye-tracking techniques and comprehension performance to examine how different text and images attract visual attention, then assessing its influence on comprehension of the material. Currently, we are using eye-tracking analyses to determine if redundant text in presentations affects learning, as well as using metacognitive comparisons to gauge whether learners are aware of the negative impact of the redundant text. 

Mind wandering and task demands

Mind wandering, or off-task thought, is an ever-present phenomenon that seems to hinder learning. We are interested in investigating the mechanism behind mind wandering and how to best measure it in both a laboratory and classroom setting. We are exploring what aspects of a task promote or discourage mind wandering and how it affects information retention and comprehension throughout the course of a lecture. 

Collaborative testing

We know tests help students retain information when completed alone, but in practice, testing sometimes manifests as a group exercise. Collaborative approaches are generally embraced by educators although the research is mixed when it comes to long-term retention of information. With both laboratory and classroom research, we study the memory mechanisms at play when students test in groups, aiming to elucidate conditions in which collaborative testing is most likely enhance long-term retention above an beyond individual testing.

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Publications

2017

Anatomical sciences education 10 (3), 249-261
The effect of image quality, repeated study, and assessment method on anatomy learning.
B Fenesi, C Mackinnon, L Cheng, JA Kim, BC Wainman
 
Journal of Educational Psychology 109 (1), 84
Study sequence matters for the inductive learning of cognitive concepts.
F Sana, VX Yan, JA Kim

2016

Applied Cognitive Psychology 30 (5), 691-699
Split‐Attention and Coherence Principles in Multimedia Instruction Can Rescue Performance for Learners with Lower Working Memory Capacity.
B Fenesi, E Kramer, JA Kim
 
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology 2 (2), 134
The mind that wanders: Challenges and potential benefits of mind wandering in education.
AA Pachai, A Acai, AB LoGiudice, JA Kim

Journal of Exercise, Movement, and Sport 48 (1), 165
Sweat so you don't forget: How exercise breaks during instruction can promote learning
B Fenesi, K Lucibello, JA Kim, JJ Heisz

2015

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology 1 (4), 377
Testing together: When do students learn more through collaborative tests?
AB LoGiudice, AA Pachai, JA Kim

Educational Psychology Review 27 (2), 333-351
Reconceptualizing working memory in educational research.
B Fenesi, F Sana, JA Kim, DI Shore

The FASEB Journal 29 (1 Supplement), 690.9
The Effect of Image Quality on Anatomy Learning
C Mackinnon, B Fenesi, L Cheng, K Lucibello, J Kim, B Wainman

The FASEB Journal 29 (1 Supplement), 209.2
The Effect of Image Quality and Image Presentation on the Recall of Anatomic Knowledge.
B Wainman, G Norman, B Fenesi, C Mackinnon, L Cheng, J Kim

The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 6 (3), 2
A Systematic Assessment of ‘None of the Above’on Multiple Choice Tests in a First Year Psychology Classroom.
MV Pachai, D DiBattista, JA Kim

Frontiers in psychology 6
One size does not fit all: older adults benefit from redundant text in multimedia instruction.
B Fenesi, S Vandermorris, JA Kim, DI Shore, JJ Heisz
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