Cognition and Perception

Do you know what you know?

What do children know about their own abilities? A child who knows when they have mastered a new skill and when they need some more practice is well equipped to take control of their own learning. They will also be able to seek help at the right time. We are interested in how well children can judge their own performance or learning, and what influences how well they make such judgments. In this study, we investigate why some people seem to have quite accurate insight into their own abilities while others need more support, and why in some contexts they can accurately reflect on their performance and in other contexts they cannot. Previous research has found that children and adults who can monitor themselves well also have good executive functions; these are skills that allow us to keep information in mind, quickly switch between tasks and focus on important information while ignoring distractions. In the study ‘Do you know what you know?’ we investigate why executive functions influence children’s judgments about their own performance.

Keywords: Metacognition; metacognitive monitoring; executive functions; inhibitory control; working memory; primary-school children / middle childhood; online experimentation.
Researchers involved: Janina Eberhart, Celine Spannagl, Donna Bryce.

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (BR 6057_3-1)

LearningGames: Do I always play in the same way?

Children constantly need to guide and monitor their behaviours and thoughts to reach goals and manage their learning. One aspect of these self-regulation processes is metacognitive monitoring, which is the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking. Monitoring is demonstrated in different types of tasks. On one hand, children can be asked to tell us what they think about their performance when prompted by an adult or computer. On the other hand, we can observe children’s monitoring during construction games and puzzles and note signs of spontaneous monitoring (e.g., when children compare their construction to an image of what they are attempting to build). In this project we are interested in whether the effectiveness of children's monitoring varies across different games and with or without prompting.

Keywords: Metacognitive monitoring; different measurement approaches; observational coding; computerised tasks; quasi-naturalistic observation; ecological validity

Researchers involved: Janina Eberhart, Donna Bryce.

Funded by: LEAD Intramural Grant

How do we learn to focus?

In our everyday environment we often have to focus on relevant information and adapt to changing task demands while ignoring distractions. A prime example of this is the sometimes effortful task of navigating through a website in search of relevant information while trying to ignore distractions presented at the same time that compete for our attention. We are interested in how people develop the ability to attend to relevant information in the presence of conflicting or distracting information. To do this we use so-called cognitive conflict tasks (e.g. the Simon and Stroop tasks). Moreover, we are particularly interested in whether similarities in task features (e.g. instructions, relevant information, type of distractions) across tasks play a role in how we deal with conflicting information and how improvements in one conflict task may transfer to another conflict task. To get a deeper insight into the different processes involved in cognitive conflict processing, we employ mouse-tracking in our online studies.

Keywords: Cognitive control; conflict tasks (Simon, Stroop); conflict adaptation; congruency sequence effect; mouse-tracking; Movement Dynamics; online experimentation.

Researchers involved: Theodora Hera Potamianou, Hannah Kaiser, Greta Thunhorst, Donna Bryce

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (BR 6057/4-1). Subproject of the Research Unit 'Modal and amodal cognition: Functions and interactions' (FOR 2718)