In Search Of… The Wary Student, Part IV: Conclusions

Pack your bags, look to the stars, and prepare to go in search of…

THE WARY STUDENT.

The first, and most important, result of this experiment will be…

… Nobel Prizes in Peace and Economics. However, until that happens…

Findings are expected to be as they are expected to be. If the results of my previous experiment are any guide, what I will actually find is something entirely different.

Rational behavior in the ultimatum game, which is the basic of the wary guerrilla categorization, can be taught. Either prior knowledge (Lusk & Hudson, 2004), repeated tries (Slonim & Roth, 1998) or group deliberation (Robert & Carnevale, 1997) results in more rational behavior. It would be interesting and useful to see if similarly “rational” group behavior can be taught. Tuovinen & Paas (2004) give a quantitative description of teaching efficiency that could show how cognitive load interferes with learning correct decision-making strategies. Likewise, research that shows that self-explanations improve understanding (Chi, de Leeuw, Chiu, & LaVancher, 1994; de Leeuew & Chi, 2003) may be combined with research on rational and moral development (for example, Moshman, 2005) and how technology can be used to increase critical thinking (Dempsey, PytlikZillig, & Bruning, 2005).

Similarly, dynamic task selection allows training to vary by cognitive ability of the learner (Salden, et al., 2004). One could apply cognitive load training to group work and the wary guerrilla game, and discover the best way to train students to interact with one another. This could be combined with variations of the ultimatum game, such as where a third player is absolutely helpless (Oppewal & Tougareva, 1992) or the participant should shrink the size of the pie while still accepting (Andreoni, Castillo, & Petrie, 2003). Besides being intellectually interesting in themselves, these twists provide room for developing ultimatum game expertise within the time constraints of running of an experiment on volunteer undergraduates.

Another question to be asked is how technology can be altered to increase a sense of community. Community-building is a recommended feature of online courses (Horn, PytlikZillig, Bruning, & Kauffman, 2003), and public goods contribution has been found to be positively impacted by video (Kurzban, 2001) and possibly increased by pictorial (Fulwider & Saferstein, 2007) representations. A resource allowing the testing of pictorial representations is readily available at no charge (Minear & Park, 2004), and could easily be added to the experimental design. The author is at an institution which has studied computer-mediated v. face-to-face interaction via commonly used educational software (PytlikZillig, Bruning, Horn, & Bodvarsson, 2005), thus such a study would fit well into the current research.

In The Wary Guerrilla‘s original research on the wary guerrilla, the subject of cultural variability was brought up. Cognitive load effects social behavior in different groups differently, apparently because levels of social automaticity vary by culture (Knowles, Morris, Chiu, & Hong, 2001). Further experimentation has only emphasized the need for such a study. Either work in a foreign country, or with international students at a local university, would be insightful.

Well?


In Search Of, a tdaxp series
1. Educational Psychology
2. Load and Behavior
3. Experiments
4. Conclusions
5. Bibliography

In Search Of… The Wary Student, Part III: Experiments

Pack your bags, look to the stars, and prepare to go in search of…

THE WARY STUDENT.

These experiments will be described: one to measure positive cooperation (where the subject of the beneficance is is absolutely helped) in educational settings, one to measure neutral cooperation (where the subjectneither helped nor harmed), and one to measure negative cooperation (where the subject is absolutely harmed by the altruistic behavior).

Two games were studied as part of this research. Participants played an ultimatum game very similar to the one presented in The Wary Guerrilla and a cooperation game inspired by Alford & Hibbing (2006a). Before they played these games, subjects were randomly assigned into a high-cognitive load or a low-cognitive load condition. The experiment differed from both The Wary Guerrilla and Alford & Hibbing (2006a) in that the tasks were framed as part of a group project, instead of as an economic game. Framing effects have been observed before (Larrick & Blount, 1997), and may have their effect, because ultimatum game performance chances depending on the norms of a people (Henrich, et al., 2005) or a workplace (Kay, Wheeler, Bagh, & Ross, 2004).

Participants were seated at computers and told they were testing new interfaces for distance education. They were told that their actions in the first part of the experiment will only effect the grades of other students. However, they will have an opportunity to gain additional extra credit at a later part of the task. The participants were instructed that the students they were assisting was at another university institution, and that it was unlikely they would interact in daily life. After a structured introduction, the students were given a series of mathematical problems to solve both for themselves and for the other students. Which problem would help which student was clearly labeled.

The students were then informed that their task was over. They were informed that another portion of the experiment was to measure cooperative behavior in distance education classes. Unbeknownst to the student, the second portion of the experiment would be an ultimatum game, “where one of the players can firmly commit himself in advance under a heavy penalty that he will insist under all conditions upon a certain specified demand (which is called his ultimatum)” (Harsanyi, 1961, 190).

The participant was then informed that the other student was given the opportunity to split extra credit points with the participant. These extra credit points were designed to reward cooperative students. The participant was informed that the other student believed that a 4-to-1split of extra points was fair. If this was accepted, the other student’s point total would be raised by 4 extra credit points while the participant’s score would be raised by only one. Alternatively if the participant refused, neither would gain these additional extra credit points.

Next, participants were informed they would be able to “punish” the other student if they felt the other student had not behaved appropriately for any reason. (This behavior was discussed at length in The Wary Guerrilla).


In Search Of, a tdaxp series
1. Educational Psychology
2. Load and Behavior
3. Experiments
4. Conclusions
5. Bibliography