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Cognitive strategies employed by hearing and deaf secondary students while reading online (with Wolfgang Mann at University of Roehampton and Rachel O’Neill at University of Edinburgh) Funded by A British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant

The increasing use of the Internet by schools as a teaching and learning tool, e.g., for information gathering, brings the need to better understand the reading patterns and cognitive processes readers use to access and comprehend digital texts. To maximize internet-based teaching potential, we seek to identify information-seeking and evaluating strategies used by hearing and deaf children when reading internet-based materials. Comparing reading strategies used by hearing and deaf children –who show different visuo-spatial skills – can provide new insights into the relationship between language and more general cognitive abilities. We will compare online reading strategies (i.e., the use of graphics, text, multiple pages and review strategies) in hearing children who use English and deaf children, who use either English or British Sign Language as a preferred language. Our goal is to determine which cognitive skills map onto diverse outcomes in online reading. The findings will inform teaching methodologies for both hearing and deaf children.

To Get Involved or for more information: http://www.ssc.education.ed.ac.uk/research/onlinereading

Spatial Indexing in Verbal Memory

Humans use meaningful locations in space to help them think and remember. More surprisingly, they do it even if the region they are looking at is completely blank. We all have experienced this in daily life. Think about that miraculous moment you could remember an arithmetic formula during an exam just by looking at a blank region on the board where the formula was written two weeks earlier. The ability to code information with locations in space is called “spatial indexing”. This research project aims to understand how we use spatial indexing. We are particularly interested in spatial indexing for words. Growing evidence shows that spatial indexing is a consistent behaviour. However, numerous questions are still waiting to be answered: Why do we look at blank spatial locations? Is spatial indexing an automatic behaviour or a strategic ability? Does spatial indexing improve our memory, and to what extent? How do spatial indices map onto representations in mind? Some of our questions are about the critical link between space and verbal memory: Do certain words induce us to use space more than other words? If so, which properties of words are related with spatial indexing? Do bilinguals differ in their use of spatial indexing for words? This research project will allow for a more comprehensive verbal memory model, which encompasses not only what is inside the brain but also what is outside in the space and how we use it as an extension to our memory.


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