Environmental Psychology Class Assesses Augsburg Campus

The Augsburg Environmental Psychology class recently completed an annual assessment of a campus environmental factor.  This year students chose to investigate campus accessibility for various disabilities.  They found many positive points for accessibility on campus, but also some features where improvements could increase the convenience for students.  In an assignment called Environmental Treasure Hunt the class had to imagine being in a wheel chair and getting from the Mortensen Dormitory to chapel.  Other campus assessments completed in past years included use of nature, esthetic/artistic elements, and safety.  These assessments are forwarded to the office handling buildings and grounds at Augsburg.

Report Urges Caution in Handling and Relying Upon Eyewitness Identifications in Criminal Cases, Recommends Best Practices for Law Enforcement and Courts

The National Academy of Sciences recently issued a report that resoundingly supports the findings of eyewitness scientists.   The report is of particular interest to Augsburg College: Dr.
Nancy Steblay of the Psychology Department has been a strong contributor to eyewitness research, often with the laboratory assistance of Augsburg students.  Dr. Steblay was one of the
eyewitness scientists who testified before the NAS in Washington, DC as the NAS committee began their review of eyewitness science.  The report  recommends best practices that law enforcement agencies and courts should follow to improve the likelihood that eyewitness identifications used in criminal cases will be accurate. Science has provided an increasingly clear picture of the inherent limits in human visual perception and memory that can lead to errors, as well as the ways that law enforcement processes can compromise eyewitness identifications, the report says.  Dr. Steblay’s research has focused on the revision of police identification procedures as a means to reduce eyewitness error.

National Science Grant for Augsburg Psychology Professor Dr. Nancy Steblay

Dr. Nancy Steblay, Professor of Psychology, has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation for the project, “Collaborative Research. RUI: Understanding and Predicting Eyewitness Identification Errors: Studies Using a Unique Set of Materials from Actual Lineups.” (NSF ID: SES -1420135). Total funding for the project is $397,600. The research will be conducted over the next three years in collaboration with Dr. Gary Wells at Iowa State University. Augsburg College will receive $134,219 in support of faculty-student research.

To better understand eyewitness identification errors, the research team will conduct a series of laboratory experiments using eyewitness data sets and lineup audio files from 855 real police investigations. These experiments will test theoretical ideas that have direct implications for police practice regarding the prediction of eyewitness identification decisions from lineup bias, eyewitness verbalizations during the lineup, witness confidence statements, and witness decision latency.  Differences between double-blind and single-blind lineups will be examined for evidence of suggestive lineup administrator behaviors and influence on eyewitness decisions. The investigators will also examine the role of contextual factors on how people evaluate witness certainty statements and how contextual factors might affect people’s perceptions of lineup administrator influence.

The results of this research will help address questions about external generalization of lab-based theory and serve as a model for collecting and analyzing materials and data from actual lineups in the field. Additionally, this project will provide hands-on research experience for up to 18 Augsburg undergraduate students.

If you have any questions about this research or would like to learn more, please contact Nancy Steblay at steblay@augsburg.edu

Augsburg Aging Lab Hosts Event on Aging-At-Home at Cedar Commons

Common Table

In cooperation with Cedar Commons, the Augsburg Aging Lab hosted a panel discussion on Sept. 26th, 2014 featuring visiting author, Beth Baker, who spoke about her new book With A Little Help From Our Friends: Creating Community As We Grow Older. After a reading from her work on the new options and alternatives available to older adults as they make choices about housing, Dr. Ben Denkinger moderated a panel discussion of speakers including Barabara Goldner from Mill City Commons, Jess Luce from the Communities for a Lifetime Initiative, and Adam Suomala from Aging Services of Minnesota. For more information about Augsburg Aging Lab events or research, contact AugsburgAgingLab@gmail.com


New York Times article mentions Augsburg professor’s work

Professor Nancy Steblay

Columnist David Brooks’ recent New York Times article spotlights the work of Augsburg’s Professor Nancy K. Steblay. Professor Steblay and Professor Elizabeth F. Loftus of UC-Irvine are co-authors of a chapter in the edited volume, The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy. The chapter, “Eyewitness Identification and the Legal System,” summarizes recent applications of memory science to law enforcement practice and legal policy.