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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.


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 helps students communicate with patients

The Empathy Simulator is a virtual human called ‘Jim’, developed to train essential communication skills. Jim the Avatar is a collaboration between LACe group members Janet Beilby, Michelle Quail and Peter Allen, and national and international colleagues in both 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 mobile app to assist research students

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 group 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 to research factors that promote structural awareness and to develop and evaluate the app. These projects were recently published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Download the app on the StatHand website or Apple store.

Contact: Peter Allen

Providing data to students to improve their learning

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 members of the LACe group (Lynne Roberts and Joel Howell) and the Director of Learning Futures at Curtin, David Gibson.

Understanding learners and learner behaviours

How psychological literacy helps individuals to meet challenges

Psychological literacy is the ability to apply psychological knowledge to personal, family, occupational, community and societal challenges. As psychological literacy is rapidly being used as a primary outcome of those with an undergraduate psychology degree, it is important to evaluate how psychological literacy is measured, and its links to other learner behaviours and characteristics.

Understanding Psychological Literacy project is a collaboration between members of the LACe group (Lynne Roberts, Natalie Gasson and Lauren Breen) and colleagues at Murdoch University (Brody Heritage) and RMIT (Andrea Chester).

PASS efficacy and engagement

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

UniPASS Engagement is an ongoing collaboration between members of the LACe group (Peter Allen), members of the Curtin University Student Transition and Retention Team (START), and colleagues at Murdoch and UWA.

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.

Teaching and learning in the area of fieldwork is a current area of research for LACe members Brooke Sanderson and Michelle Quail. Projects completed and underway in this area involve collaborations across schools, faculties and universities.

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 and built on a collaboration of LACe group members (Lynne Roberts, Natalie Gasson and Mara Blosfelds).