People Profiles

Krista Muis, PhD, Education

November 18, 2015
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Dr. Krista Muis is finding ways to make learning the ABCs and 123s more exciting than the latest Frozen app.

Muis is a faculty member in McGill University’s Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Canada Research Chair in Epistemic Cognition and Self-Regulated Learning. She completed a PhD in Educational Psychology at SFU in 2004. Her doctoral work was recognized with both a Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal for Academic Excellence and the Dunlop Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Canada.

Muis’ research focuses on what motivates young students to engage with math and science and how technology can be used to fuel their learning in those subjects.

“Technology can foster a great deal of creativity, but it can also be very distracting with students checking their phones or chatting online. We really know very little about how to use these tools effectively and my work focuses on generating greater understanding in that area,” she says.

One of Muis’ research projects examined how kindergarten students interacted with an iPad app designed to teach them basic reading skills. Her findings revealed that the tool’s effectiveness depended on a very subtle balance between yes and no responses.

“The app provided feedback to let a child know if they accurately identified a letter sound. I tested it and found that if the student got too much negative feedback they felt overwhelmed and went off task,” she says.

In another project, students created how-to videos to explain specific aspects of the curriculum to their peers. Students who were involved in creating the digital resources achieved 10% higher on assessments. She and her team are now working on a secret-agent themed app that will simulate this process.

Muis’ ability to identify and deconstruct the complex interplay between students and technologies is grounded in over a decade of theoretical training and lab-based testing that first began in SFU’s Faculty of Education.  

“My supervisors gave me a sense of how to integrate ideas from different fields — math education, psychology, philosophy — to look at learning in a completely different way. Through their guidance I was able to develop the theoretical frameworks underpinning my current work,” she says.

Author: Jackie Amsden

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