Jade Pick­er­ing
October 2021

What do you work on?

My PhD and ongoing col­lab­o­ra­tive work was/is on impul­sive behav­iour in people with Parkinson’s, but most of my current work (pre­vi­ous­ly Uni­ver­si­ty of York, now Uni­ver­si­ty of Southamp­ton) is in retrieval prac­tice with edu­ca­tion­al appli­ca­tions. I also spend quite a bit of time doing things related to open research and reproducibility.


What did you do using Gorilla and what did you find?

There’s robust evi­dence that retrieval prac­tice is an effec­tive learn­ing strat­e­gy, even above restudy­ing, to promote long-term reten­tion of infor­ma­tion. But do you have to prac­tice retriev­ing all aspects of the infor­ma­tion or can you prac­tice on a subset? We used multi-element event triplets (animal, object, loca­tion) to test this. Par­tic­i­pants were encour­aged to imagine the three ele­ments inter­act­ing as vividly as pos­si­ble to encour­age tightly inte­grat­ed events at the point of encod­ing e.g. spidercarrotcircus. They then did retrieval prac­tice on, or were re-exposed to, a subset of pairs from those triplets (spidercarrot) which left one element (circus) and two pairs (circus — spider / circus — carrot) untested/not re-exposed. 2 days later they did a final test on all pairs from all triplets.

Firstly, and sur­pris­ing­ly, we found no evi­dence of retrieval prac­tice being better for long-term reten­tion com­pared to re-expo­sure. We think this might be because the inte­grat­ed nature of the triplets elicit­ed auto­mat­ic retrieval in the re-expo­sure con­di­tion. Sec­ond­ly, we found that retrieval prac­tice/re-expo­sure to one pair from the triplet improved long-term reten­tion for the remain­ing element and two pairs from the same triplet. This is cool because it means trans­fer is occur­ring! This didn’t differ between retrieval prac­tice and re-expo­sure though, but that’s not sur­pris­ing given the lack of retrieval prac­tice effect com­pared to re-expo­sure. Trans­fer is impor­tant for retrieval prac­tice when used in the class­room, and it may be that the initial pre­sen­ta­tion of infor­ma­tion is impor­tant (i.e. inte­grat­ed mate­r­i­al). We don’t know in this study if trans­fer from tested to untest­ed infor­ma­tion was due to retrieval prac­tice or re-expo­sure at this stage though.


Has this study been published?

This paper arose from my work at the Uni­ver­si­ty of York with Aidan Horner and Lisa Hen­der­son. The pre-print is on PsyArX­iv and the Stage 2 Reg­is­tered Report has just been accept­ed at Royal Society Open Science!


How did Gorilla make your life or research better, easier or faster?

Data col­lec­tion is so much quicker, once we’d received in prin­ci­ple accep­tance of our Stage 1 Reg­is­tered Report I started and fin­ished data col­lec­tion and analy­sis within 2–3 weeks. In the past and using in-person methods it would’ve taken me months to get the same sample size. I’ve run two pilot studies and two full exper­i­ments on Gorilla since then and I’ve saved SO much time! When­ev­er I’ve gotten stuck, there’s always been someone avail­able to help whether through the offi­cial support chan­nels or the online community.


For you, what is the stand-out feature in Gorilla?

It’s so intu­itive from the very begin­ning! When you first open the website it’s very easy to build a basic experiment with little to no knowl­edge, which gives you a good foun­da­tion to try out the more advanced fea­tures quite quickly.


How do you think online research is going to change your field?

I think it’ll change a lot of fields! By cutting down the hun­dreds of hours that can be spent build­ing exper­i­ments from scratch and then running them in-person in the lab, that’s time that can be invest­ed in cre­at­ing theory driven hypothe­ses and analy­sis plans and increas­ing the quality of the research we do.


What is the most excit­ing piece of work or research you’ve ever done?

This one! I’m proud of the effort that went into it, and the results were really sur­pris­ing. I think we might’ve strug­gled to get it pub­lished if we hadn’t gone with the Reg­is­tered Report pub­li­ca­tion route because of a sur­pris­ing null result.


Did you include any special fea­tures in your study to ensure good quality data?

I includ­ed an atten­tion check as a trial that appeared once per block. Par­tic­i­pants were instruct­ed to press the space­bar and had a 5 second time limit to do so. Con­sid­er­ing the speed of the exper­i­men­tal trials, this should have been plenty of time to press the button if they were already paying atten­tion. I then exclud­ed those who failed the atten­tion checks, which was about 10% of recruit­ed participants.


What’s your favourite STEM joke?

What’s the dif­fer­ence between a magi­cian and a psy­chol­o­gist?
A magi­cian makes rabbits appear in hats, but a psy­chol­o­gist makes habits appear in rats! 🐇🐀


Are there any online courses, pod­casts, dis­cus­sion groups or resources that you’d rec­om­mend to others?

I’m biased as a former com­mit­tee member, but Repro­ducibiliTea is a global organ­i­sa­tion pri­mar­i­ly tar­get­ed at empow­er­ing ECRs to do better and more repro­ducible research. Repro­ducibiliTea journal clubs are held all over the world where we discuss papers focused on open research, and it’s a great com­mu­ni­ty with a strong online pres­ence con­nect­ing all the local insti­tu­tion­al journal clubs togeth­er. There’s a podcast too!


What is the biggest advan­tage of online research methods?

It saves so much time without com­pro­mis­ing on quality. The only reason I was able to do this project as a Reg­is­tered Report in the months between the onset of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and the date at which my postdoc con­tract was sched­uled to end is because I got the experiment set up so quickly on Gorilla and knew I’d get the data col­lect­ed fast once the Stage 1 man­u­script was accept­ed. This project was the fastest and the most high-quality piece of work I think I’ve ever done and much of that is due to the ease of using Gorilla and Prolific.


When you’re not working what do you enjoy doing?

I like to play video games, par­tic­u­lar­ly if they’re set in immer­sive fantasy or sci-fi worlds. The Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, and Assassin’s Creed series are my favourites. I’ve always got one or two games on the go, right now it’s Mass Effect Androm­e­da and Life is Strange 2.

Jade Pick­er­ing
Picture showing a test glass Learning and long-term retention of information
Picture showing an university graduates hat Postdoc
Picture showing a School University of Southampton
Portrait of Jade Pickering

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