B.S. (The University of Iowa, 1981)
Ph.D. (Stanford University, 1986)
Will not be accepting new graduate students for Fall 2014
Laura R. Novick
Associate Professor of Psychology and Human Development
Associate Professor of Psychology, College of Arts and Science
Professor Novick's research is focused on examining the strategies, processes, and representations that college students use to reason and solve problems. On the one hand, she is interested in skilled problem solving, including its relation to less skilled problem solving, so her work often considers individual differences. On the other hand, she is also interested in general principles of, or constraints on, cognition that are related to reasoning and problem solving. She has studied these issues in a variety of content domains, which were chosen because they are good ones for investigating questions of representation, solution strategies, and expertise. Her current research is focused on students' comprehension of biological diagrams (specifically, cladograms) used to represent evolutionary relationships among taxa (i.e., to depict the Tree of Life). Cladograms are the most important tool used by evolutionary biologists because they document and organize existing knowledge about the properties of species and higher-order taxa. By using patterns of most recent common ancestry to systematize the 3.5 billion year history of life on Earth, cladograms (a) enable evidence-based inference and (b) provide a conceptual framework for basic and applied biology. More detailed information about Professor Novick's research may be found on her personal web page.
- Novick, L. R., & Catley, K. M. (2013). Reasoning about evolution’s grand patterns: College students’ understanding of the tree of life. American Educational Research Journal, 50, 138-177.
Singer, S. R., Nielsen, N. R., & Schweingruber, H. A., (Eds.); Committee on the Status, Contributions, and Future Directions of Discipline-Based Education Research (Novick, L. R., member). (2012). Discipline-based education research: Understanding and improving learning in undergraduate science and engineering. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Novick, L. R., Stull, A. T., & Catley, K. M. (2012). Reading phylogenetic trees: Effects of tree orientation and text processing on comprehension. BioScience, 62, 757-764.
Bassok, M., & Novick, L. R. (2012). Problem solving. In K. J. Holyoak & R. G. Morrison (Eds.), Oxford handbook of thinking and reasoning (Ch. 21, pp. 413-432). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Novick, L. R., Shade, C. K., & Catley, K. M. (2011). Linear versus branching depictions of evolutionary history: Implications for diagram design. Topics in Cognitive Science, 3, 536-559.
- Novick, L. R., Catley, K. M., & Funk, D. J. (2011). Inference is bliss: Using evolutionary relationship to guide categorical inferences. Cognitive Science, 35, 712-743.
- Hurley, S. M., & Novick, L. R. (2010). Solving problems using matrix, network, and hierarchy diagrams: The consequences of violating construction conventions. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 275-290.
- Catley, K. M., & Novick, L. R. (2009). Digging deep: Exploring college students’ knowledge of macroevolutionary time. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46, 311-332.
- Novick, L. R., & Sherman, S. J. (2008). The effects of superficial and structural information on on-line problem solving for good versus poor anagram solvers. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 1098-1120.
- Novick, L. R., & Catley, K. M. (2007). Understanding phylogenies in biology: The influence of a Gestalt perceptual principle. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 13, 197-223.
- Novick, L. R. (2006). Understanding spatial diagram structure: An analysis of hierarchies, matrices, and networks. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59, 1826-1856.
- Whitley, K. N., Novick, L. R., & Fisher, D. (2006). Evidence in favor of visual representation for the dataflow paradigm: An Experiment Testing LabVIEW s Comprehensibility. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 64, 281-303.
- Novick, L. R., & Hurley, S. M. (2001). To matrix, network, or hierarchy: That is the question. Cognitive Psychology, 42, 158-216.