DeLTA Center Roundtable - Bob McMurray (University of Iowa)

DeLTA Center Roundtable - Bob McMurray (University of Iowa)
Friday, January 27, 2017 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Lindquist Center

Bob McMurray, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, will discuss his research for the DeLTA Center.

Dr. McMurray’s research interests include “on-line spoken word recognition and speech perception in typical adults and in people with language impairment and cochlear implants; the development of speech perception and word learning in infants and children; use of eye tracking, cognitive neuroscience techniques (event related potentials and inter-cranial recording), and computational modeling of perception and perceptual development”.

From the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, U of Iowa, 23 January 2017,

Applying Principles of Learning to Early Reading

Abstract: As many as 60% of children do not read proficiently at grade level.  Given this, a better understanding of learning may help shape reading curricula and instruction.  While hundreds of laboratory learning studies may offer such understanding, it is difficult to translate them to reading directly in part due to size.   In the laboratory, one may train just a handful of items; however, in reading children must learn to map 26 letters to 44 phonemes, and there maybe over 1000 regularities.  As a result, training all items en masse may be infeasible. In this talk, I present several studies examining ways to structure subsets of items to best promote learning.  These studies -- essentially field tests of cognitive principles -- teach first graders a small number of letter/sound regularities over 5 days using a unique internet-based computer program that allows a high degree of control over training.  Items are structured to instantiate several principles of learning allowing an experimental control over principles of learning.  They suggest that simultaneous training on more difficult--overlapping--pairs of regularities may promote learning and retention, and that variability of irrelevant letters may be helpful but only in specific circumstances.

+ Coffee, water, and pastries will be provided