Learning, Attitudes, Cognition and eBehaviour Research Group

The Learning, Attitudes, Cognition and eBehaviour (LACe) research group consists of a collection of researchers from the School of Speech Pathology and Psychology who investigate and evaluate evidence-based methodologies in the context of learning, examining individual differences across a range of contexts. We aim to disseminate our research findings through high impact journal articles, reports and conference presentations.

person using a hand held device

Our research foci are outlined below. If you would like to participate in LACe or engage in research in the following or related topics, please contact one of our members.

Learners and technology use

Empathy Simulator

The Empathy Simulator is a virtual human called ‘Jim’, developed to train essential communication skills. Jim the Avatar is a collaboration between LACe members Janet Beilby, Michelle Quail and Peter Allen, and national and international colleagues in the higher education and private sectors. You can read our published paper in BMC Medical Education

Our projects have received more than $150,000 combined funding from Curtin University and peak industry bodies Alzheimer’s Victoria and Alzheimer’s Australia. We received a $50,000 grant from Alzheimer’s Australia to investigate how students interact with and learn from a virtual resident with dementia.

Watch our video.

Contact: Janet Beilby


StatHand is a mobile application that supports students through the process of selecting appropriate statistical tests and procedures for various research questions, hypotheses and data types. The project involved LACe members Peter Allen, Lynne Roberts and Frank Baughman, and colleagues at the Australian National University, Griffith University and the University of New England.

StatHand was awarded an Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching Innovation and Development Grant (Category A) of $161,000. You can read two recent papers on factors that promote structural awareness and the development and evaluation of the app in Frontiers in Psychology.

Download the app on the StatHand website or Apple store.

Contact: Peter Allen

Ethical learning analytics

Learning analytics is the collection, analysis and feedback of data to learners to improve learning. As higher education sectors build the capacity and implement learning analytics programs, it is important to understand the relative impact on the learner and teacher, in addition to the capacity for retention building.

Ethical learning analytics is a collaboration between LACe members Lynne Roberts and Joel Howell, and the Director of Learning Futures David Gibson at Curtin. The project has received over $40,000 of funding from Curtin to evaluate student and staff involvement and use of learning analytics. The project recently published papers in Technology, Knowledge and Learning and Frontiers in Psychology.

For more information please see the ethical learning analytics website.

Contact: Joel Howell or Lynne Roberts

Understanding learners and learner behaviours

Understanding psychological literacy

Psychological literacy is the ability to apply psychological knowledge to personal, family, occupational, community and societal challenges. As psychological literacy is rapidly becoming a primary outcome of undergraduate psychology degrees, it’s important to evaluate how psychological literacy is measured, and its links to other learner behaviours and characteristics.

This project is a collaboration between LACe members Lynne Roberts, Natalie Gasson and Lauren Breen, Brody Heritage at Murdoch University and Andrea Chester at RMIT. This project received a Curtin Learning and Teaching Innovation Grant of $20,824 and has published two papers in Frontiers in Psychology.

Contact: Natalie Gasson or Lynne Roberts

PASS efficacy and engagement

Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) is a widely implemented academic support program in which senior students facilitate weekly voluntary peer-learning sessions to support students in challenging, mainly undergraduate units. UniPASS annually supports the learning of several thousand students enrolled in over 20 units at Curtin.

UniPASS Engagement is a collaboration between LACe member Peter Allen, the Curtin University Student Transition and Retention Team, and colleagues at Murdoch and UWA. A Curtin Learning and Teaching Innovation Grant of $24,960 enables the project to examine the impact of PASS on student grades, pass rates and retention.

Contact: Peter Allen

Learning and teaching professional capacity

Students in fieldwork

Students experience unique challenges and opportunities when they enter fieldwork placements. These projects investigate students’ resilience and the needs of millennial students entering fieldwork and will contribute greatly to the teaching and support of students in health science professions.

Projects in this area involve LACe members Brooke Sanderson and Michelle Quail, with collaborations across schools, faculties and universities. A project to develop online strategies to help young people successfully transition into paid work recently received a $163,000 grant from the Australian Technology Network.

Contact: Brooke Sanderson or Michelle Quail

Dissertation supervision

With many students requiring supervision across higher education sectors, there was limited evidence on how to best supervise students. The project saw over 100 supervisors and dissertation coordinators contribute to the development of supervision tools.

The project is run by Lynne Roberts with LACe members Natalie Gasson and Mara Blosfelds. For more information, please view the project websitefinal report and guide for honours and coursework dissertation students.

Contact: Lynne Roberts