Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stanford’s Word Bank

Wordbank is an open database for storing information about children’s vocabulary growth.

Wordbank is approved by the MB-CDI advisory board, and is a project of the Stanford Language and Cognition Lab, PI Michael C. Frank. Contributors include Dan Yurovsky, Virginia Marchman, Ranjay Krishna, Mika Braginsky, and Benji Nguyen.

Wordbank archives data from the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (MB-CDI), a family of parent-report questionnaires. The Wordbank database enables researchers to recover data filtered by source, age, gender, word, and a host of other variables, enabling simple export of plain-text data for further analysis.

Wordbank also includes a number of reports based on recent research on children’s vocabulary: see how children’s vocabulary grows and changes across early childhood.

Wordbank is open access! The graphical search interface is currently under construction, but see this tutorial to start using R to analyze the data today.

And, there’s R-code for accessing  it:

Newell on motor schema theory

Newell, K. M. (2003). Schema theory (1975): Retrospectives and prospectives. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 74, 383-388.
A brief commentary is provided on the theoretical assumptions, scholarly impact and continuing influence of the schema theory of motor learning (Schmidt, 1975). The traditional contrasts of schema theory to the coordinative structure or dynamical systems framework are reemphasized, and limitations of the variability of practice experiments noted. A central problem for theories of motor learning is change over time, the basis on which learning is typically defined. Most theories including schema have, however, undervalued the importance of the time-dependent nature of change in deference to the almost exclusive study of the amount of some averaged change in behavioral outcome. The persistent and transitory changes in movement and outcome that are observed in action are reflections of multiple time scales of change in a dynamical system.
Newell provides some historical context for the development of motor schema theory, highlighting its outgrowth from the 1970s concepts of motor planning and closed-loop theory. He sets up an argument that motor schema theory is inadequate to the task of explaining novel action, and that the proposed storage-savings offered by schemata are not necessary given moden conceptions of cognition.
Newell gives us a few notes to anticipate likely objections to a dynamical systems approach–1) complexity and coordination do not require a designer or central planner, 2) one can have a cognition based on representations, without requiring a symbolic architecture–and points out that schema theory offers little to account for where schema come from in the first place.

He argues that research supporting schema theory, which often relies on the observation that performance improves with varied practice (where we have a chance to dance around the target a bit), has historically had both internal validity problems (the effect of variability of practice is confounded with similarity effects), and external validity (limiting practice to a few score trials, and thus ignoring relatively permanent change for temporary effects).

Left unstudied by research in the motor schema are the development of new coordination patterns and issues of contextual interference. We need more research on just what it is we learn in motor learning: “what are the fundamental phenomena that reflect persistent and transitory change and need to be handled in a motor learning theory?” (That is, we need to describe the phenomenon before we can explain it.)

My questions
I found this critique vague. It levied a few charges against schema theory, and stated that dynamical systems theory doesn’t suffer from some limitations that others have apparently accused it of, but gives us few details about what dynamical systems has to offer.
Q1) p. 387 “one can accommodate the qualitative types of change in movement and action by a small group of principles from dynamical systems theory” What are these principles?
Q2) p. 387 “schema was and is both metaphorically and in reality more of a static than a dynamic theory of learning.” If motor schema are anything like the Piagetian notion of schema (or, indeed, the Kuhnian paradigms of science the author references), then is “punctuated equilibria” more accurate than “static.”
Q3) p. 385 What are non-symbolic representations like? Just laid-down “recordings” of neural patterns?

Academic Phrasebank

The Academic Phrasebank is a general resource for academic writers. It aims to provide you with examples of some of the phraseological ‘nuts and bolts’ of writing organised according to the main sections of a research paper or dissertation (see the top menu ). Other phrases are listed under the more general communicative functions of academic writing (see the menu on the left). The resource should be particularly useful for writers who need to report their research work.

The phrases, and the headings under which they are listed, can be used simply to assist you in thinking about the content and organisation of your own writing, or the phrases can be incorporated into your writing where this is appropriate. In most cases, a certain amount of creativity and adaptation will be necessary when a phrase is used.

The items in the Academic Phrasebank are mostly content neutral and generic in nature; in using them, therefore, you are not stealing other people’s ideas and this does not constitute plagiarism. For some of the entries, specific content words have been included for illustrative purposes, and these should be substituted when the phrases are used.

The resource was designed primarily for academic and scientific writers who are non-native speakers of English. However, native speaker writers may still find much of the material helpful. In fact, recent data suggest that the majority of users are native speakers of English. More about Academic Phrasebank.