Developmental Language and Cognition Lab

PI: Dr. Laura Wagner

  With Dr. Laura Wagner I am researching how verbs, their modifiers, and our knowledge of the world affects our mental representations of events-- more simply, how we imagine what people talk about. We are looking at verbs rather than other parts of speech because they define the described event and how other parts of the sentence interact. Specifically, we are interested in how world knowledge affects our representation of how much an event has been completed! For example, how much and what kind of a sandwich is imagined when we say the child ate a sandwich compared to the bodybuilder ate a sandwich. This is interesting because every language specifies the endpoints of an event in some manner, and this reveals how language can be influenced by world knowledge.

  Dr. Wagner and I hope to clarify the manner in which adult world knowledge affects mental representations of different events through language. We are doing this through a series of experiments on adults at Columbus' Center of Science and Industry (COSI), in which we ask adults to provide their judgements on the completion of various sentences, and seeing whether or not their judgements are a quantifiable function of their world knowledge. We will be performing this experiment with the aid of a data collection application I developed for COSI, which can be customized to suite the needs for future experiments outside of this work.

Undergraduate Research Seminar
Ling 4780

Ray Patt
Participants Needed: Click Here to Participate

  This a course offered to Linguistics students at The Ohio State University to provide exposure to cutting-edge research performed by OSU researchers that interests the individual student. We were asked to find a faculty mentor to work with throughout the course of a semester, and develop a research project of interest. By the end of the semester, we are expected to present the study itself and the results we obtain in a Linguistics Society of America style format. Students in the class are expected to come prepared each week with developments on their project, be it background literature collection, data collection, abstract drafts, and presentation drafts.

  Due to the fact that OSU does not have any faculty researching specifically what I am interested in (computer-assisted language learning) I took it upon myself to get in touch with professors around the world along with Ohio State faculty who could help. I have received resources, tips, and guidance from Dr. Robert Levine, Dr. Laura Wagner, Dr. John Grinstead, Dr. Micha Elsner from The Ohio State University, Dr. Detmar Meurers from Tubingen University, and Dr. Shannon Sauro from Malmo University.

  My specific project focuses on the use of comics and dynamic assessment to foster native-like usage of the preterit and imperfect tenses in students learning Spanish as a second language. It has previously been found that the Spanish preterit and imperfect focus more on foregrounding and backgrounding information than so lexical aspect (whether or not the described event has an end point). Comic books are also able to express foregrounding and aspect in very similar ways as described by Scott McCloud's Understand Comics [the Invisible Art]. I am developing a web-based tool to help Spanish learners nativize their usage of the preterit and imperfect by increasing contextual clues defined by Scott McCloud as being more related to foregrounding or backgrounding. This should encourage them to create more correct choices in their production, and I predict that their reliance on the contextual cues should decrease over time as they become more native-like. The comics being used and modified come from The World of Quino by Quino, and the description of the comic used to test comic understanding is borrowed Dr. Maximo Salaberry's 2008 article Assessing the Effect of Lexical Aspect and Grounding on the Acquisition of L2 Spanish past tense Morphology among L1 English Speakers. I also use the data collected from Salaberry (2008) to put the learners into levels of acquisition based on their percentage of correct answers for each type of situation.

  From this seminar I have learned much about the research process, and the communication and feedback involved in research. I learned how much diligence it takes to do research-- it was easy for me to think of general problems, but they were too much to tackle. I came to realize real change happens when we solve the smallest, specific problems. So rather than developing a complex system of points, reaction times, and tools, I had to focus solely on one factor: the addition of frames showing changes in time to indicate foregrounding and backgrounding. Timing was another huge factor of the course, as we had to meet deadlines every week, and were expected to develop and perform an entire experiment in just one semester. Most importantly, however, I feel like I have learned a lot about what interests me most in my field. This course gave man opportunity to explore something which has interested me for the past couple years, and has helped me realize the passion I have for computer-assisted language learning.

Child Language Ability Lab

PI: Dr. Monique Mills

  I helped Dr. Monique Mill's lab with transcription work over the summer of 2018. The research project I helped transcribe for focused on the effects of racial bias on teaching and learning language, specifically how racial biases and caretaker's linguistic knowledge influence common core reading results. The majority of my work was spent as long nights listening to speech segments for hours until I felt that I had every "um" "uh" and pause in my transcription. I was tasked with transcribing interviews with black mothers, which required learning the Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT) conventions, as well as the StartStop foot petal and transcription software.

  From this project I learned a lot about time management and the diligence required to meet strict deadlines. We were only allowed to work for a certain period of time, and we were expected to have all of our files transcribed to the best of our ability by the end of that period. We were allowed to spend as much or as little time on transcribing as wanted, so long as they met the SALT standards and were accurate as compared to an experienced transcriber. I found myself spending hours on end trying to perfect my transcription, spending half an hour on a sentence alone. I scheduled time throughout the week amidst working two jobs, and was able to get all of my files finished and received many acknowledgements on my level of detail and accuracy.

CCBS Undergraduate Summer Institute

Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences (CCBS)
Dr. Andy Leber

  Also during the summer of 2018, I took part in Ohio State's Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences' (CCBS) Undergraduate Summer Institute (CUSI). CCBS was looking for a group of undergraduate student researchers with an interest in pursuing cognitive science research in graduate school or industry after their undergraduate studies. The weekly meetings we were given the opportunity to attend consisted of a talk from an OSU faculty member about their research in Cognitive Science, a talk given by either a faculty member or graduate students on the research process and post-undergraduate work, and finally a lunch with the speakers to provide us an opportunity to interact with them and ask questions. The research talks presented to us all focused on Cognitive Science but ranged from music (Dr. David Huron) to computational linguistics (Dr. Micha Elsner) to attention modeling (Dr. Andy Leber). The workshops provided to us ranged anywhere from applying to graduate school, best research practices, and careers outside of academia. A full itinerary can be found at here.