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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Neural Markers of Effective Learning

John Anderson, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: We have been looking at the learning of a difficult class of word problems and the insights required to master these problems. We call these problems part-rate problems. They involve learning a set of rates for different parts of a larger whole. These rates can be things like speed, payment, weight, etc. Students have difficulty appreciating the abstract communality among all members of the class and the abstract principles for solving all such problems. Based on earlier research, we have created a word problem tutor that uses a tabular representation to illustrate the abstract communality in the content of all of these problems and the common principles for solving these problems. In parallel with research on this tutor we have been using fMRI data to identify regions that are active when people get insights. We will present data from two laboratory studies of use of the tutor. These studies show clear markers of insight in predefined anterior cingulate, prefrontal, and parietal regions. We will also present data from an ongoing study with the tutor. We will describe the implications of these data for developing an improved version of the tutor.