In January, Dr. Katherine Rawson '99 will attend an awards ceremony. But not just any awards ceremony. She will receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in a ceremony at the White House.
Only 100 young researchers receive the award each year; it's the highest honor bestowed by the government for researchers in the early stages of their careers. Awardees are selected on the basis of two criteria: pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.
Rawson knew she had been nominated but the moment she heard she had been selected was a bit of a shock.
I couldn't believe it, Rawson says.My jaw dropped. I am very, very honored. It's almost hard to verbalize.
A psychology professor at Kent State University since 2004, Rawson is researching ways to make student studying more effective.
Students are faced with learning a great amount of material in a limited amount of time time that is also taken up with work and extra-curricular activities.
In education we hope students will take away a long-lasting knowledge base. But students' current study strategies are generally not good for long-term retention.
So what's the best bang for the buck?
First, promote memory, an important step on the way to application.
Rawson and colleague John Dunlosky are building a type of study buddy, an automated study scheduler. She describes it as an automated flash card system.
It's an interface in which a professor or student can feed in key terms or concepts and schedule practice. Then the student can self-test and evaluate what they understand and what they need to spend more time on.
The use of self-testing is good for improving long-term memory, Rawson says.
Right now, they are ready to begin testing the interface with college students. Eventually, they hope to extend their work to middle school students.