Carroll elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science

Jack Carroll, Edward M. Frymoyer Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State, was elected a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in December 2011. He was nominated by a group of his peers for his pioneering research in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI).

“I sort of just arrived as this area was being invented,” he said.

The Association for Psychological Science (previously the American Psychological Society), according to its website, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of scientific psychology and its representation at the national and international level. The association has about 23,000 members and includes the leading psychological scientists and academics, clinicians, researchers, teachers and administrators.

Fellow status, according to the website, is “awarded to APS members who have made sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching, service and/or application.”

Carroll, who joined the faculty of the College of IST in 2003, is co-director (with Mary Beth Rosson) of the Laboratory for Computer Supported Collaboration and Learning. He also serves as director of Penn State's Center for Human-Computer Interaction. In addition, he holds courtesy appointments as professor of computer science and engineering, instructional systems and psychology. His research interests include methods and theory in human-computer interaction, particularly as applied to networking tools for collaborative learning and problem solving, and the design of interactive information systems.

Carroll, who has a doctorate in experimental psychology from Columbia University, first started doing research in HCI while doing post-doc work at IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in the mid-1970s.The development of HCI, he said, was largely a result of the emergence of the personal computer.

“Once ordinary people started using computers, (HCI) exploded,” he said.

HCI started out with “limited, arcane problems,” Carroll said, but branched out into many areas as embedded systems such as mobile phones, digital cameras, and music players were invented. In the latter part of his career, he said, his research has focused on community informatics, and collaborative problem solving and learning. One of the areas he is exploring is the use of Internet news feeds for community networking. Currently, he is designing software that aggregates feeds from different sources to support an experimental news portal for State College, Pa. The news site, civicinity, can be viewed at www.civicinity.org.

“The technique could make every community system more lively and interesting,” Carroll said.

Carroll acknowledged that his areas of interest are viewed as unconventional by many traditional experimental psychologists, who mostly conduct research according to very specific standards.

“It’s not the usual thing psychologists do,” he said.

However, he added, HCI is a very broad field that encompasses not just researchers, but also designers and programmers. Technology impacts people’s lives in so many ways, he said, that it will be increasingly hard for the mainstream psychological community to ignore research that explores human-computer interaction.

“I think, ultimately, people are attracted to interesting problems and opportunities,” Carroll said.

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Last Updated February 16, 2012