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The Effects of Prior Knowledge of Students within Dyads on Learning Outcome

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Collaborative learning is a potential technique for teachers to use to meet the diverse learning needs of the students in their classrooms. Previous studies have investigated the contexts in which the benefits of collaborative learning show greater presence. The most

Collaborative learning is a potential technique for teachers to use to meet the diverse learning needs of the students in their classrooms. Previous studies have investigated the contexts in which the benefits of collaborative learning show greater presence. The most important factor found was the quality of the interactions. Studies have suggested that high achieving students are capable of improving the quality of interactions. This bears the question if prior knowledge plays an influence in the learning outcome of students in collaborative learning. Results show that high prior knowledge students do not face a detriment in having low prior knowledge students as a partner comparing to having another high prior knowledge student and that low prior knowledge students show significantly higher learning outcome when partnered with a high prior knowledge partner than with another low prior knowledge student. It is therefore likely that having a high prior knowledge student within a dyad improves the quality of interaction, resulting in greater learning outcome through collaborative learning.

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Date Created
2014-05

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Neural dynamics of single units in rat's agranular medial and agranular lateral areas during learning of a directional choice task

Description

Learning by trial-and-error requires retrospective information that whether a past action resulted in a rewarded outcome. Previous outcome in turn may provide information to guide future behavioral adjustment. But the specific contribution of this information to learning a task and

Learning by trial-and-error requires retrospective information that whether a past action resulted in a rewarded outcome. Previous outcome in turn may provide information to guide future behavioral adjustment. But the specific contribution of this information to learning a task and the neural representations during the trial-and-error learning process is not well understood. In this dissertation, such learning is analyzed by means of single unit neural recordings in the rats' motor agranular medial (AGm) and agranular lateral (AGl) while the rats learned to perform a directional choice task. Multichannel chronic recordings using implanted microelectrodes in the rat's brain were essential to this study. Also for fundamental scientific investigations in general and for some applications such as brain machine interface, the recorded neural waveforms need to be analyzed first to identify neural action potentials as basic computing units. Prior to analyzing and modeling the recorded neural signals, this dissertation proposes an advanced spike sorting system, the M-Sorter, to extract the action potentials from raw neural waveforms. The M-Sorter shows better or comparable performance compared with two other popular spike sorters under automatic mode. With the sorted action potentials in place, neuronal activity in the AGm and AGl areas in rats during learning of a directional choice task is examined. Systematic analyses suggest that rat's neural activity in AGm and AGl was modulated by previous trial outcomes during learning. Single unit based neural dynamics during task learning are described in detail in the dissertation. Furthermore, the differences in neural modulation between fast and slow learning rats were compared. The results show that the level of neural modulation of previous trial outcome is different in fast and slow learning rats which may in turn suggest an important role of previous trial outcome encoding in learning.

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Date Created
2014

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Exploration of neural coding in rat's agranular medial and agranular lateral cortices during learning of a directional choice task

Description

Animals learn to choose a proper action among alternatives according to the circumstance. Through trial-and-error, animals improve their odds by making correct association between their behavioral choices and external stimuli. While there has been an extensive literature on the theory

Animals learn to choose a proper action among alternatives according to the circumstance. Through trial-and-error, animals improve their odds by making correct association between their behavioral choices and external stimuli. While there has been an extensive literature on the theory of learning, it is still unclear how individual neurons and a neural network adapt as learning progresses. In this dissertation, single units in the medial and lateral agranular (AGm and AGl) cortices were recorded as rats learned a directional choice task. The task required the rat to make a left/right side lever press if a light cue appeared on the left/right side of the interface panel. Behavior analysis showed that rat's movement parameters during performance of directional choices became stereotyped very quickly (2-3 days) while learning to solve the directional choice problem took weeks to occur. The entire learning process was further broken down to 3 stages, each having similar number of recording sessions (days). Single unit based firing rate analysis revealed that 1) directional rate modulation was observed in both cortices; 2) the averaged mean rate between left and right trials in the neural ensemble each day did not change significantly among the three learning stages; 3) the rate difference between left and right trials of the ensemble did not change significantly either. Besides, for either left or right trials, the trial-to-trial firing variability of single neurons did not change significantly over the three stages. To explore the spatiotemporal neural pattern of the recorded ensemble, support vector machines (SVMs) were constructed each day to decode the direction of choice in single trials. Improved classification accuracy indicated enhanced discriminability between neural patterns of left and right choices as learning progressed. When using a restricted Boltzmann machine (RBM) model to extract features from neural activity patterns, results further supported the idea that neural firing patterns adapted during the three learning stages to facilitate the neural codes of directional choices. Put together, these findings suggest a spatiotemporal neural coding scheme in a rat AGl and AGm neural ensemble that may be responsible for and contributing to learning the directional choice task.

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Date Created
2014

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Visual Behavior and Planning for Object Manipulation: Gaze Patterns for Altered Center of Mass

Description

The interaction between visual fixations during planning and performance in a

dexterous task was analyzed. An eye-tracking device was affixed to subjects during

sequences of null (salient center of mass) and weighted (non salient center of mass) trials

with unconstrained precision grasp. Subjects

The interaction between visual fixations during planning and performance in a

dexterous task was analyzed. An eye-tracking device was affixed to subjects during

sequences of null (salient center of mass) and weighted (non salient center of mass) trials

with unconstrained precision grasp. Subjects experienced both expected and unexpected

perturbations, with the task of minimizing object roll. Unexpected perturbations were

controlled by switching weights between trials, expected perturbations were controlled by

asking subjects to rotate the object themselves. In all cases subjects were able to

minimize the roll of the object within three trials. Eye fixations were correlated with

object weight for the initial context and for known shifts in center of mass. In subsequent

trials with unexpected weight shifts, subjects appeared to scan areas of interest from both

contexts even after learning present orientation.

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Date Created
2017