Prof. Halpern has won many awards for her teaching and research. Most recently, she received the 2013 Association for Psychological Science James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to applied psychological research. She is a past president of the American Psychological Association, the Western Psychological Association, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, and the Division of General Psychology. Prof. Halpern has published hundreds of articles and over 20 books including Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities, and Women at the Top: Powerful Leaders Tell Us How to Combine Work and Family (co-authored with Fanny Cheung). Her other recent books include Psychological Science (4th ed. with Michael Gazzaniga and Todd Heatherton) and the edited book, Undergraduate Education in Psychology: A Blueprint for the Future of the Discipline.
Technology: Operation ARA — What We Can Learn About Scientific Reasoning from Aliens and Avatars
Operation ARA is a serious game developed by Keith Millis (Northern Illinois University), Art Graesser (University of Memphis), and Diane F. Halpern (Claremont McKenna College) with input from a team of marvelous professionals, talented students, and snotty avatars. It was funded with a multiyear grant from the U. S. Department of Education (Institute for Educational Sciences) and is commercially available from Pearson Higher Education, Publishers.
Your mission: to expose the aliens who endeavor to take over Earth by stealing our natural resources, spreading bad science, and lulling mankind into mindless consumerism. These aliens must be stopped. As an agent with the Federal Bureau of Science, you will receive the latest training methods to spot aliens posing as human scientists, you will identify the flaws in research from a variety of fields, and you will interrogate suspected alien spies.
This is the science-fiction plot behind Operation ARA, an Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) that teaches scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills. Student players become Federal Bureau of Science agents-in-training charged with defending Earth from aliens who are intent on destroying it. To defend Earth, student agents must learn the principles of the scientific method and critical thinking. The student players then must use these principles to evaluate case studies and interrogate suspected alien scientists.
Operation ARA employs the scientific principles of learning and serious games. Students are engaged in the material using the pedagogical principles of active learning, immediate feedback, dialog interactivity, multimedia effects, distributed practice, and transfer of learning. “Hard fun” is another principle that may increase the success of educational or epistemic games. This phenomenon describes the resulting sense of satisfaction students experience after struggling to understand a difficult topic. That is, the student’s enjoyment should increase as the game moves from teaching basic declarative knowledge in the first module to the use of this knowledge in the analysis of ecologically valid cases in the later modules.