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Advanced Training Institutes Provide In-Demand Instruction in Emerging Technologies

During the summer’s five APA training programs, 131 professors, researchers, and graduate students of psychology received high quality, cutting edge training.

By Nicolle Singer

In July and August of 2007, the Science Directorate sponsored the final two Advanced Training Institutes of the year. During the summer’s five APA training programs, 131 professors, researchers, and graduate students of psychology received high quality, cutting edge training. Most of the summer’s ATIs were filled to their limits, and we expect demand to remain high as researchers increasingly embrace the new technologies targeted by these exciting programs. The first three ATIs of the year were reported in the June PSA, as reported in Psychological Science Agenda, June 2007.

From July 9-13, the ATI on Performing Web-Based Research was held at the University of Northern Iowa. Due to the importance of Internet-based research in psychological research, this program attracted an eager group. Attendees could imagine harnessing the power of the internet to enrich their samples by collecting detailed data from the comfort of participants’ own homes. They learned ways to avoid common problems in online research, such as insuring independent responses by tracking IP addresses or using high hurdle techniques. The instructors at this ATI drew from their vast experience conducting net-based studies and coordinating web-based subject pools to discuss web-based research’s potential and limitations.

The workshop included lecture, discussion, and lots of hands-on computer time. Even though many attendees had no prior experience with html, they all left with more confidence in their ability to post surveys to the web and a more thorough understanding of this method of data collection. Most participants had created a functioning web survey during the week-long institute. The four expert instructors were on-hand throughout the week to answer questions and provide personalized advice for the use of the web in research.

The Science Directorate offered a new ATI on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Psychological Research on August 16 in San Francisco, CA. GIS technology has revolutionized the fields of geography and epidemiology. It offers incredible potential for psychology, but so far this potential has not been deeply tapped. This ATI therefore introduced psychologists to the new methodology and provided numerous examples from active research programs. This special one-day ATI took place the day before the annual APA Convention. The ATI began with definitions, discussions of fundamental spatial concepts and the nature of spatial data, and the domain of GIScience. Readings and a bibliography were distributed and discussed, as were samples of popular GIS data analysis software.

The four expert instructors discussed the background of psych-geography collaborations and promising areas for the future. More than just mapping technology, GISc can enrich datasets and lead to new research questions. The instructors have pioneered the application of GIS to spatial analysis, wayfinding, and cognitive maps, and used the unique ATI format to stress the technology’s potential. Advanced presentations focused on methods of particular interest to social-scientists, such as cognitive cartography, spatial information processing, and the use of Google Earth data in research.

Be sure to check the APA's Science Directorate ATI website in early December to learn about the 2008 line-up of ATIs.