$1.5 million grant to help students ‘hit the books’ in a new way

July 15, 2015  

Jeffrey D. Karpicke

Jeffrey D. Karpicke
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University cognitive scientist received a $1.5 million grant to develop a new computer tool to help fourth- and fifth-graders improve their study habits.

 “Fourth and fifth grades are the years when children are asked to learn more on their own, and often their strategy, like older students, is to take notes and then review that information,” said Jeffrey D. Karpicke, James V. Bradley Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences. “We know that retrieval strategies, such as self-testing, work better for college students to retain information, and now we want to see if they work with younger students.”

The three-year grant from the National Center for Educational Research will fund the development of a computer-based retrieval program, which will be evaluated in Burnett Creek Elementary School in West Lafayette, Fox Hill Elementary School in Indianapolis and possibly other Indiana schools. The grant was effective July 1.

Karpicke’s research shows that college students who use retrieval practice, which is a form of self-testing, retain the information longer and learn better compared to students who reread their notes. In 2014, Karpicke received a Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, and in 2012, he received a Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation.

Karpicke is collaborating with Michael Jones, W. K. Estes Professor of Psychological Sciences at Indiana University, whose expertise focuses on computational models of memory and language.

“We’re collaborating on a new technology that doesn’t exist by developing algorithms that can score students’ open-ended responses for immediate feedback,” Karpicke said. “For example, the computer program would ask a student to explain how photosynthesis works. It’s complicated as there are many parts, and based on how the child responds, the computer would create a model of what he or she knows and what needs to be learned.”

The National Center for Educational Research is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences, which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Education. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu 

Source: Jeffrey D. Karpicke, 765-494-0273, karpicke@purdue.edu 

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