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Subway Summit Links Cognition and Education Research Among NYC Universities


The Yankees and Mets aren’t the only ones with a subway series.

On April 24, Fordham’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) welcomed professors and graduate students from three other New York City universities for the third annual Subway Summit on Cognition and Education Research.

The daylong event, which was held at the McNally Amphitheatre on the Lincoln Center campus, brought together representatives from Fordham, New York University, Columbia University and the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. It was hosted by Fordham’s Center for Learning in Unsupervised Environments (CLUE).

William B. Whitten II, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Scholar at GSE and director of CLUE, said the event tries to take advantage of research projects being conducted at colleges that are just blocks away from Fordham.

“The idea was to invite people who were doing work that was different from ours—but related—in the sense that it was studying cognition, or cognitive psychology, and how that affects education policy,” Whitten said. “We invited people from education schools or psychology departments with an education emphasis, like educational psychology. It wasn’t so important where they were organized; we were interested in what they were doing.”

Lecture titles included “Gestures in Explanation and Learning” by Seokmin Kang, John B. Black, Ph.D., and Barbara Tversky, Ph.D., from Columbia University; “Designing Orion for Digital Video Analysis to Foster ‘Perspectivity’” by Ricki Goldman, Ph.D., from New York University; and “The Acquisition of Conventional Spellings by Pre-Conventional Spellers: A Developmental Analysis” by Mark Lauterbach from CUNY.

Whitten presented “Designing More Effective Homework for Mathematics Learning” with Mitchell Rabinowitz, Ph.D., professor and divisional chair of the psychological and educational services division at Fordham and associate director of CLUE; and Sandra E. Whitten, consultant to CLUE. The research, which goes hand-in-hand with CLUE’s goal of examining learning that happens outside of the classroom, is meant to enrich homework so that it contains more elements of classroom techniques.

“A student goes home, and typically his or her thought processes are directed by the homework assignment. There’s no one around to provide other ideas or stimulate thinking in any way other than by the problem itself,” Whitten said.

“So we have designed problems that include some parts that are a little more like what you might experience in a classroom. Some of our tasks ask students to think of more than one way to solve a problem, some of them ask students to visualize a problem,” he said.

With four universities allotted 90 minutes each to talk, the conference featured 17 presentations—a “cognitive soup” of inspiring ideas, Whitten said.

“You might hear a talk that helps you develop an idea that is different from what you had been thinking,” he said. “It might be difficult to trace an idea back to exactly where it started, but you develop new ideas from conference interactions.”


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