Development of healthy cognitive abilities (e.g., memory and attention), the biopsychosocial determinants of poor cognitive skills, approaches to addressing cognitive impairments, and methods of enhancing learning outcomes.
Spacing and Critical Thinking
The spacing effect is the phenomenon that occurs when learning episodes are reviewed over time, rather than in immediate succession. This has major implications for classroom learning, but needs more research if generalizations are to be made. For our SSHRC-funded research, we are conducting four classroom trials of the spacing effect on topics that have previously been shown to benefit spaced learning in small-scale studies—physics, algebra, geometry, and statistics—and two laboratory studies on topics that have not previously been investigated: computer programming and robotics design and programming. We will determine whether spaced learning improves retention of facts and critical thinking skills and whether teaching by a teacher-researcher produces equivalent spacing effect benefits as teaching by regular classroom teachers.
Fluoride in Tooth Dentin and Neurodevelopment Outcome in a Canadian Cohort
Controversy about the safety of water fluoridation led the National Academy of Sciences to recommend additional research on fluoride toxicity. Using an existing Canadian pregnancy and birth cohort, this study will measure fluoride in a novel biomarker (dentin), and test the safety of chronic fluoride exposure among potentially vulnerable populations.