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Rachael Hulme Talk at BAAL Vocab SIG Conference

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Rachael Hulme recently gave a talk at the British Association for Applied Linguistics–Vocabulary Special Interest Group (BAAL Vocab SIG) conference that took place 9-10 July 2018 at the UCL Institute of Education in London. She was awarded a prize for the joint best student presentation. The title and abstract of the talk can be found below:

Title: Tests assist adults’ learning of new meanings for familiar L1 words from stories.

Abstract: Adults often learn new meanings for familiar words, for example due to language evolving with changes in technology (e.g., the internet-related meaning of “troll”), or when learning a new subject/activity (e.g., the sailing term “boom”). The present studies use a naturalistic web-based story-reading paradigm to examine adults’ incidental acquisition and long-term retention of novel, artificial meanings for familiar words. Our previous research on this topic found remarkably little forgetting of word meanings between immediate tests and delayed tests one day or even one week after training.
Experiment 1 investigated whether testing participants immediately after training contributed to this good long-term retention, and whether this ‘testing effect’ differs between incidental and intentional learning. Participants (N=99) learned new meanings for existing words incidentally through story reading, and intentionally through a definition learning task. They were then tested immediately (without feedback) on half the items. After 24 hours, memory was better for items that had been tested immediately compared with those that had not. This testing effect was non-significantly larger for incidental than intentional learning.
Experiment 2 compared two methods of immediate test: cued recall and recognition. Participants (N=98) learned new meanings for familiar words incidentally through reading stories, and were tested immediately on half the items with either a cued recall or recognition test. They were tested on all items 24 hours later using both test methods. Memory was better for items that were previously tested using either method than for those that had not been tested; the difference was non-significantly larger for the recognition test. The testing effect also generalised across test tasks.
These findings have important implications for word learning studies that compare memory between two test points. This research also emphasises the key role that testing can play in learning new vocabulary from storybooks in educational settings.

Further information about the BAAL Vocab SIG can be found here: https://baalvocabsig.wordpress.com

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One-day Conference: Behavioural Science Online

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Dr Jenni Rodd has helped to organise a one-day conference on Behavioural Science Online, and will be giving a talk on “Ensuring data quality when you can’t see your participants”.

The conference takes place on Wednesday 13th June 2018 in the Lower Ground Lecture Theatre, 26 Bedford Way at UCL.

Details of the conference schedule can be found here: https://beonline.research.sc/

Jenni Rodd to Give Talk at Workshop on Ambiguity at the University of Tübingen

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University of Tübingen, Germany

Dr Jenni Rodd will be giving a talk at an international workshop on ‘Ambiguity as (Information) Gaps: Processes of Creation and Resolution’. The workshop will take place at the University of Tübingen, Germany on 16-17 November 2018.

Details about the workshop can be found here: https://www.uni-tuebingen.de/forschung/forschungsschwerpunkte/graduiertenkollegs/grk-1808-ambiguitaet-produktion-und-rezeption/workshop.html

Symposium at EPS/CSBBCS Conference in St. John’s, Canada 4-7 July 2018

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St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Dr Jenni Rodd has organised a symposium entitled ‘Accessing the Meanings of Words: Perspectives on Lexical Ambiguity’ for the upcoming joint meeting of the Experimental Psychology Society and the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science. The conference will take place 4-7 July 2018 in St. John’s, Canada.

A preliminary schedule including details on the talks in the symposium can be found here: BBCS_2018_Talk_and_Poster_Schedule.pdf

Congratulations to Dr Hannah Betts on Passing her Viva

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L-R: Eva Poort, Rachael Hulme, Becky Gilbert, Hannah Betts, Jenni Rodd, Matt Davis

Congratulations to Dr Hannah Betts who passed her viva with very minor corrections on Monday 14th May 2018. Her thesis is on ‘Retuning lexical-semantic representations on the basis of recent experience’. Thanks to Dr Jane Warren and Dr Matt Davis who were Hannah’s examiners.

Symposium at Recent Meeting of the Psychonomic Society

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Symposium speakers at the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Dr Jenni Rodd organised a symposium entitled ‘Learning Words from Experience: The Emergence of Lexical Quality’ at the recently-held International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Amsterdam.

Details of the talks that were included in the symposium can be found here: https://www.psychonomic.org/general/custom.asp?page=18AMSsymposia

Preprint: ‘The cost of learning new meanings for familiar words’

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Greg Maciejewski, Jenni Rodd, and collaborators have a new pre-print available on PsyArXiv, the details of which can be found below:

Title: The cost of learning new meanings for familiar words

Authors: Greg Maciejewski, Jennifer M. Rodd, Mark Mon-Williams, and Ekaterini Klepousniotou

Abstract:

Research has shown that adults are highly skilled at learning new words and meanings. Here, we examined whether learning new meanings for familiar words affects the processing of their existing meanings. In Experiments 1 and 2, adult participants learnt new, fictitious meanings for previously unambiguous words (e.g., “sip” denoting a small amount of computer data) through four 30-minute training sessions completed over four consecutive days. We tested participants’ comprehension of existing meanings before and after training using a semantic relatedness decision task in which the probe word was related to the existing but not the new meaning of the trained word (e.g., “sip-juice”). Following the training, responses were slower to the trained, but not to the untrained, words, indicating competition between newly-acquired and well-established meanings. Furthermore, consistent with studies of semantic ambiguity, the effect was smaller for meanings that were semantically related to existing meanings than for the unrelated counterparts, demonstrating that meaning relatedness modulates the degree of competition. Overall, the key findings confirm that new word meanings can be integrated into the mental lexicon after just a few days’ exposure, and provide support for current models of ambiguity that predict semantic competition in word comprehension.

Preprint: ‘Incidental learning and long-term retention of new word meanings from stories: The effect of number of exposures’

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Rachael Hulme, Dasha Barsky, and Jenni Rodd have a new pre-print available on PsyArXiv, the details of which can be found below:

Title: Incidental learning and long-term retention of new word meanings from stories: The effect of number of exposures

Authors: Rachael C. Hulme, Daria Barsky, and Jennifer M. Rodd

Abstract:

This study used a web-based naturalistic story-reading paradigm to investigate the impact of number of exposures on incidental acquisition and long-term retention of new meanings for known words in the native language (L1). Participants read one of four custom-written stories in which they encountered novel meanings (e.g., “a safe concealed within a piece of furniture”) for familiar words (e.g., “foam”). These meanings appeared two, four, six, or eight times in the narrative. The results showed reasonably good memory (assessed by cued recall of (i) novel meanings and (ii) word forms) after only two exposures, emphasising the importance of initial encounters. Accuracy in cued recall of novel meanings showed a linear, incremental increase with more exposures. Interestingly, there was no significant forgetting after one week, regardless of the number of exposures during training. This demonstrates the efficiency with which adults acquire new word meanings in L1 incidentally through reading and retain them well over time.

Talk by Rachael Hulme at UCL Language and Cognition Seminar Series

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Chandler House, UCL

Rachael Hulme, a PhD student in The Word Lab, will be giving a talk entitled “The benefit of tests for learning new meanings for familiar words from stories” as part of the Language and Cognition Seminar Series at UCL on Monday 16th April 1-2pm.

The talk will take place in room G10, Chandler House, 2 Wakefield Street, London WC1N 1PF. Details of the talk can be found below:

Title: The benefit of tests for learning new meanings for familiar words from stories.

Abstract: Adults must often learn new meanings for familiar words, for example due to language evolving with changes in technology (e.g. the internet-related meaning of “troll”), or when taking up a new subject or activity (e.g. the sailing term “boom”). Learning new word meanings generally takes place incidentally by inferring the new meaning from context, rather than through intentional memorisation. The studies I will present in this talk use a naturalistic web-based story-reading paradigm to examine adults’ incidental acquisition and long-term retention of novel, artificial meanings for familiar words. I will discuss the importance of testing memory immediately after learning for future retention of vocabulary learned in this way. I will look at how tests can benefit incidental and intentional learning of new meanings for familiar words, and the use of different test methods. I will discuss implications for vocabulary learning in educational settings.

Further details about the Language and Cognition Seminar Series can be found here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/research/language-and-cognition/language-and-cognition-events

Leverhulme DTC PhD Studentship Available for the Ecological Study of the Brain

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Interested in joining The Word Lab? Dr Jenni Rodd is looking to recruit a PhD student to work on a project on ‘Using natural language environments to study vocabulary
development across the lifespan’, starting October 2018.

Further information about the project is available here: Leverhulme Doctoral Training Programme for the Ecological Study of the Brain

Further information about the studentship is available here: http://ecologicalbrain.org/prospective-students/

Please note that the deadline to apply for the studentship is: 28th March 2018

Interested applicants should contact Dr Jenni Rodd in the first instance: j.rodd(at)ucl.ac.uk