Bob Wiley is interested in what processes and knowledge are essential to becoming an ‘expert’ in a particular domain, how is new knowledge represented in the mind/brain, and how does it interact with pre-existing knowledge. To approach these questions, Bob uses both behavioral and neuroimaging research methods in conjunction with statistical models.
Bob comes from a background in area studies and education, having taught Arabic and French in public high school for four years prior to joining the Department of Cognitive Science as a Ph.D. student. He is interested in questions about the nature of learning. By researching such questions he hopes to shed light on the nature of the difficulties encountered by students, and to better inform best practices in education. He has pursued two main lines of research: one on the mental representation of orthography (letters), and one on statistical learning in scene perception. Working with Dr. Brenda Rapp and Dr. Colin Wilson in Cognitive Science, Bob studied the visual features of Arabic letters: how they differ from Roman letters and how expert readers perceive the letters differently than do naïve observers. Bob also worked with Dr. Soojin Park in Cognitive Science on an fMRI study that asked about how flexible statistical learning is in the domain of scene perception. Bob is currently finishing his dissertation research under the supervision of Dr. Brenda Rapp, examining the effects of learning modality (e.g. handwriting, typing) on how we learn to read and spell in a new alphabet.