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From quantum processes to cognition via pictures

Bob Coecke
Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford, UK

For well over a decade, we developed an entirely pictorial (and formally rigorous!) presentation of quantum theory [*].  At the present, experiments are being setup aimed at establishing the age at which children could effectively learn quantum theory in this manner.  Meanwhile, the pictorial language has also been successful in the study of natural language, and very recently we have started to apply it to model cognition.  We present the key ingredients of the pictorial language as well as their interpretation across disciplines.

[*] B. Coecke & A. Kissinger (2017) Picturing Quantum Processes. A first course on quantum theory and diagrammatic reasoning.  Cambridge University Press.


The validity of visuo-spatial ability for predicting STEM achievement

Mike Stieff
Department of Chemistry, Learning Sciences Research Institute University of Illinois-Chicago, IL, USA

There is relative consensus that spatial thinking plays a central role in STEM learning and problem solving; however, the validity of spatial ability, as measured by common psychometric instruments, for predicting STEM outcomes remains controversial. In this talk, I will explore the core features of spatial thinking in several STEM problems and their relationship to spatial ability constructs, such as spatial visualization and perspective taking.

Through a series of targeted spatial interventions, I will also show how the relationship between spatial ability and STEM achievement is mediated by strategy and tool use. Together, these findings raise questions about the utility of targeting spatial ability in service of improving STEM learning.


When, how, and why does spatial thinking matter in learning science and mathematics?

David H. Uttal
School of Education and Social Policy & Department of Psychology Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

The ability to visualize spatial rations plays a critically important role in the learning and practice of Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM).  Many critical insights in science, such as the structure of the DNA molecule, have involved the discovery of a new spatial structure (e.g., the double helix).  In my presentation, I will address two questions about the relation between spatial thinking and STEM education and performance.  The first is how and why spatial skills relate to STEM.   I will consider several possibilities.  For children, spatial skills facilitate understanding the number line and the relations among numbers.  For adolescents and young adults, spatial skills provide flexibility and "back up" strategies when verbal strategies are not sufficient.  Spatial skills are also critically important for understand the many different visual representations (e.g., graphs and charts) that are used in STEM education.

The second question will be, "How can we improve spatial skills?".  I will consider the advantages and disadvantages of a variety of approaches, including training of core skills such as mental rotation, playing spatially-challenging videogames, and working with maps and other spatial representations to solve scientific problems.


Regular talks & presentations


Spatiotemporal versus language skills in causation

Selma Coecke
The Department of Psychology and Human Development
UCL Institute of Education

Causality is fundamental to scientific inquiries, as we humans tend to predict the outcomes of events/phenomena and intervene in these outcomes with specific purposes. This requires one to know which process (cause) produce which state/processes (effect), and what factors play a role in this relationship. Although this mechanism implies a simple logic, any relation between simple mechanical events X and Y typically contains both visible and invisible factors that challenge human cognition. This challenge is held across space, time, and mind. Therefore, we suggest that the ability to perceive causality, which relies highly on spatial temporal elements to be processed, necessitates spatiotemporal rather than language skills. With a developmental perspective, we discuss how these skills play a role in causal understanding, as children’s data allows us to compare the lower and higher bounds of the abilities with these relations, and how they evolve across development.


Implicit Attitudes towards Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy: Method Development

Gundars Bērziņš, Inese Muzikante, Ivars Austers
University of Latvia

Traditionally attitudes towards entrepreneurship as well as attitudes towards philanthropy have been assessed by explicit attitude measures. The workshop will deal with issues regarding developing implicit measures for the both attitudinal objects - entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Implicit attitudes represent negative or positive feelings and thoughts that lie outside the conscious activity (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). It has been proposed to use more implicit measures to address relationships of different variables that can not be captured by self-report measures (Rusch, et al., 2009). The presentation will discuss the findings in the presenters' research program.


Colour Variability in Interface Perception

Signe Bāliņa, Dace Baumgarte, Līga Zariņa, Jurģis Šķilters
University of Latvia

There is a wide-ranging consensus among different recent research approaches that colour perception and categorization is highly dependent on object knowledge, seasonal differences, emotions, and culture (cp., e.g. Parker, & Palmer, 2012, Ou, Luo, Woodcock, & Wright, 2004). 
Further, age and gender seem to constrain colour categories as well. In our research, we explore the impact of colour preferences on the use of interfaces. We show that colours in interface design mediate the preferences towards particular interfaces; further, we show the impact of colours on particular types of e-services. According to our results, the differences in colour preferences are not only highly age-dependent but are also co-determined by other factors such as gender, place of residence, education field, and hobbies. We also investigate the differences in degree of those factors. Our approach is based on large-scale quasi-experimental survey results. In the concluding part, we formulate some recommendations for colour use in successful interface design.



Bob Coecke
Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford, UK

Reasoning pictorially: how, why and when.