DR Rachel Searston

DR Rachel Searston

Positions

  • Cognitive Science (cognition, memory, category learning)
  • Forensic Psychology (expertise, training, selection)
  • Higher Education (concept learning)

Overview

OverviewText1

  • I am a cognitive scientist interested in how people learn concepts and categories in applied domains, including forensics, medicine, and the natural sciences. I am a McKenzie Research Fellow working with Dr Jason Lodge and Professor Gregor Kennedy at the University of Melbourne, in Australia. Previously, I worked as a Research Fellow with Associate Professor Jason Tangen in the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland (UQ). I also completed my PhD in psychology at UQ on the nature and development of perceptual expertise in fingerprint identification.

    I research how people learn (and think they learn) concepts and categories, with an eye to improving educational and training practices in forensics, medicine, and the natural sciences. At the core of these seemingly diverse fields of study is the process of generalising from one instance to another: a new instance of that finger, person, disease, biological species, statistical concept, or geological structure. To become an expert with the concepts and categories at hand, novices must learn their basic relational structure—the family resemblance that emerges across many different instantiations. Better understanding how people generalise from their prior experiences to new examples and contexts can inform the design of instructional methods that encourage learners to efficiently form new concepts, and correct old ones. The ultimate goal of my research is to develop a domain-general theoretical framework for efficiently creating expertise and facilitating transfer of learning.   

Publications

Selected publications

Awards

Education and training

  • Ph.D, The University of Queensland 2016
  • B.A. (Hons Class I), The University of Queensland 2012
  • B.A., The University of Queensland 2009

Supervision

Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Creating expertise with concepts and categories

    I research how people learn (and think they learn) concepts and categories, with an eye to improving educational and training practices in forensics, medicine, and the natural sciences. At the core of these seemingly diverse fields of study is the process of generalising from one instance to another: a new instance of that finger, person, disease, biological species, statistical concept, or geological structure. Projects related to the cognitive and metacognitive aspects of learning and expertise would be an excellent fit.