Students, Faculty Present Posters at National Psychological Convention

Four Augustana students and two professors co-presented posters at the 24th annual convention of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), held May 24-27 in Chicago, Ill.

On Friday, May 25, students Molly Martin, a senior psychology and Spanish major from Sioux Falls, and Leslie Walker, a senior psychology major from Omaha, Neb., co-presented “Repeated Storybook Reading with Elaboration Shapes Children's Behaviors” along with Augustana Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Olivia Lima. Experiments have demonstrated that elaborated storybook reading can teach preschoolers individual words; longer interventions have generated gains on standardized test scores. This study explored how elaboration not only teaches specific vocabulary, but leads children to engage in behaviors that can help them acquire words in the storybook context.

On Saturday, May 26, student Michelle Erhardt, a senior biology and psychology major from Benson, Minn., co-presented “Older Adults Can Use Distributed Retrieval Practice to Learn Names, but Get Little Benefit From Three Retrievals" along with Augustana Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Elizabeth Babcock. Does distributed retrieval practice benefit older adults’ abilities to learn names while facing multitasking demands? Participants used retrieval practice to learn sets of 5-6 names sequentially while solving addition problems. Name recall was high during retrieval practice, but dropped significantly when tested immediately following the practice of the final name.

On Sunday, May 27, 2012 Augustana graduate Heidi Allard, a communications disorders major from Woodbury, Minn., and Lima co-presented “Scaffolding with Definitions and Participation to Improve Preschoolers' Storybook Word Learning.” Sharing elaborated storybook readings (intentional focus on vocabulary) reliably leads to vocabulary gains for preschoolers. However, participative elaboration (e.g., questions) has not reliably shown the expected higher gains than non-participative. We increased the effect of participative elaboration with scaffolding, where children first hear definitions, and only later participate with questions.

With record submissions and more than 4,000 attendees, the 2012 meeting was the largest in APS history, and brought together psychological researchers and academics who shared the latest discoveries and developments in the field.