Kristina Rodriguez

Kristina Rodriguez
Mentor: Dr. David Therriault
College of Education
"I began my research endeavors simply because I have a dream of changing the educational system in the United States. I think that this can be done my understanding the environments in which students learn the best and by acquiring an understanding of educational policy. I think academic research provides the tools necessary to advocate for any real policy change."





Research Interests

  • Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Academic Awards

  • UF University Scholars Program


  • AWARE Ambassador
  • Humanists on Campus
  • ESOL Achievers


  • VA - OT Department
  • GHS Mentoring

Hobbies and Interests

  • Reading
  • Dancing
  • Photography
  • Vlogging

Research Description

The Effects of Analogical Encoding and Case-based Instruction on Cognitive Load and Learning Outcomes
"Physics, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a science that deals with matter and energy and their interactions. It has been a constant source of discovery, in which our understanding of the universe has been profoundly deepened. Unfortunately, according to the American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center (2006-2007), females pursue the field significantly less than males (M, 79%, F, 21%). There are several possible explanations for this deviation in education amongst both genders. In a study conducted by Hazari, Sonnert, Sadler, and Shanahan (2010), in which physics identities were studied, it was found that females did not report experiencing a conceptual focus and real-word/contextual connection as frequently as males did. How can educators tap into this real-world connection that some students may lack? Analogies are thought to be a powerful mechanism for the acquisition of new knowledge and conceptual change (Dunbar & Blanchette, 2001; Gentner & Markman, 1997; Holyoak & Thagard, 1995). The cell structures are taught to Biology students as a factory and the functions of the brain are taught to Anatomy students as a super computer. These disciplines, however, explore concrete, tangible structures, whilst in a field such as physics, abstract concepts abound. This study will explore the learning outcomes of cased-based instruction and encoding and its effects on cognitive load. Case-based instruction involves the use of a previously learned example and its application to a new example, whilst analogical encoding involves the presentation of two similar examples at the same time (Gentner, et al. 2003). Cognitive load theory explores the ways in which cognitive resources are focused and used during learning and problem solving (Sweller, 1988,1989). This study will examine whether case-based instruction exerts a higher cognitive load than analogical encoding. The participants will be recruited from the participation pool at the College of Education. The study will follow a 2X2 experimental design with cased-based instruction (yes, no) and analogical encoding (yes, no). In order to account for individual differences in domain-specific knowledge a 10-question MC pre-test will be administered and moderator variables such as verbal ability and spatial ability will be examined using a word-fluency task and paper-folding task, respectively. Cognitive load experienced during text reading will be measured using a questionnaire with 5 items, on a 7-point scale. Subjects will randomly be allocated to one of the experimental conditions, read a science-text on the “Higgs-Boson”, and then be presented with their examples. One week later a multiple-choice exam on the content of the text will be administered, scores will serve as the independent variable. Group differences between conditions will be examined using an ANOVA, as well as gender differences within conditions.