A Constructivist Approach and Tool for Autonomous Agent Bottom-up Sequential Learning

During the initial phase of cognitive development, infants exhibit amazing abilities to generate novel behaviors in unfamiliar situations, and explore actively to learn the best while lacking extrinsic rewards from the environment. These abilities set them apart from even the most advanced autonomous robots. This work seeks to contribute to understand and replicate some of these abilities. We propose the Bottom-up hiErarchical sequential Learning algorithm with Constructivist pAradigm (BEL-CA) to design agents capable of learning autonomously and continuously through interactions. The algorithm implements no assumption about the semantics of input and output data. It does not rely upon a model of the world given a priori in the form of a set of states and transitions as well. Besides, we propose a toolkit to analyze the learning process at run time called GAIT (Generating and Analyzing Interaction Traces). We use GAIT to report and explain the detailed learning process and the structured behaviors that the agent has learned on each decision making. We report an experiment in which the agent learned to successfully interact with its environment and to avoid unfavorable interactions using regularities discovered through interaction.

The Mechanism Underlying Empathy-Related Helping Behavior: An Investigation of Empathy-Attitude- Action Model

Empathy has been an important issue in psychology, education, as well as cognitive neuroscience. Empathy has two major components: cognitive and emotional. Cognitive component refers to the ability to understand others’ perspectives, thoughts, and actions, whereas emotional component refers to understand how others feel. Empathy can be induced, attitude can then be changed, and with enough attitude change, helping behavior can occur. This finding leads us to two questions: is attitude change really necessary for prosocial behavior? And, what roles cognitive and affective empathy play? For the second question, participants with different psychopathic personality (PP) traits are critical because high PP people were found to suffer only affective empathy deficit. Their cognitive empathy shows no significant difference from the control group. 132 college students voluntarily participated in the current three-stage study. Stage 1 was to collect basic information including Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R), Attitude Scale, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), and demographic data. Stage two was for empathy induction with three controversial scenarios, namely domestic violence, depression with a suicide attempt, and an ex-offender. Participants read all three stories and then rewrite the stories by one of two perspectives (empathetic vs. objective). They would then complete the VAS and Attitude Scale one more time for their post-attitude and emotional status. Three IVs were introduced for data analysis: PP (High vs. Low), Responsibility (whether or not the character is responsible for what happened), and Perspective-taking (Empathic vs. Objective). Stage 3 was for the action. Participants were instructed to freely use the 17 tokens they received as donations. They were debriefed and interviewed at the end of the experiment. The major findings were people with higher empathy tend to take more action in helping. Attitude change is not necessary for prosocial behavior. The controversy of the scenarios and how familiar participants are towards target groups play very important roles. Finally, people with high PP tend to show more public prosocial behavior due to their affective empathy deficit. Pre-existing value and belief as well as recent dramatic social events seem to have a big impact and possibly reduce the effect of the independent variables (IV) in our paradigm.

Analyzing Microblogs: Exploring the Psychology of Political Leanings

Microblogging has become increasingly popular for commenting on current events, spreading gossip, and encouraging individualism--which favors its low-context communication channel. These social media (SM) platforms allow users to express opinions while interacting with a wide range of populations. Hashtags allow immediate identification of like-minded individuals worldwide on a vast array of topics. The output of the analytic tool, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC)--a program that associates psychological meaning with the frequency of use of specific words--may suggest the nature of individuals’ internal states and general sentiments. When applied to groupings of SM posts unified by a hashtag, such information can be helpful to community leaders during periods in which the forming of public opinion happens in parallel with the unfolding of political, economic, or social events. This is especially true when outcomes stand to impact the well-being of the group. Here, we applied the online tools, Google Translate and the University of Texas’s LIWC, to a 90-posting sample from a corpus of Colombian Spanish microblogs. On translated disjoint sets, identified by hashtag as being authored by advocates of voting “No,” advocates voting “Yes,” and entities refraining from hashtag use, we observed the value of LIWC’s Tone feature as distinguishing among the categories and the word “peace,” as carrying particular significance, due to its frequency of use in the data.

Mapping the Digital Landscape: An Analysis of Party Differences between Conventional and Digital Policy Positions

Although digitization is a buzzword in almost every election campaign, the political parties leave voters largely in the dark about their specific positions on digital issues. In the run-up to the 2019 elections in Switzerland, the ‘Digitization Monitor’ project (DMP) was launched in order to change this situation. Within the framework of the DMP, all 4,736 candidates were surveyed about their digital policy positions and values. The DMP is designed as a digital policy supplement to the existing ‘smartvote’ voting advice application. This enabled a direct comparison of the digital policy attitudes according to the DMP with the topics of the ‘smartvote’ questionnaire which are comprehensive in content but mainly related to conventional policy areas. This paper’s main research goal is to analyze and visualize possible differences between conventional and digital policy areas in terms of response patterns between and within political parties. The analysis is based on dimensionality reduction methods (multidimensional scaling and principal component analysis) for the visualization of inter-party differences, and on standard deviation as a measure of variation for the evaluation of intra-party unity. The results reveal that digital issues show a lower degree of inter-party polarization compared to conventional policy areas. Thus, the parties have more common ground in issues on digitization than in conventional policy areas. In contrast, the study reveals a mixed picture regarding intra-party unity. Homogeneous parties show a lower degree of unity in digitization issues whereas parties with heterogeneous positions in conventional areas have more united positions in digital areas. All things considered, the findings are encouraging as less polarized conditions apply to the debate on digital development compared to conventional politics. For the future, it would be desirable if in further countries similar projects to the DMP could emerge to broaden the basis for conclusions.

A Goal-Driven Crime Scripting Framework

Crime scripting is a simple and effective crime modeling technique that aims to improve understanding of security analysts about security and crime incidents. Low-quality scripts provide a wrong, incomplete, or sophisticated understanding of the crime commission process, which oppose the purpose of their application, e.g., identifying effective and cost-efficient situational crime prevention (SCP) measures. One important and overlooked factor in generating quality scripts is the crime scripting method. This study investigates the problems within the existing crime scripting practices and proposes a crime scripting approach that contributes to generating quality crime scripts. It was validated by experienced crime scripters. This framework helps analysts develop better crime scripts and contributes to their effective application, e.g., SCP measures identification or policy-making.

The Experience of Middle Grade Teachers in a Culture of Collaboration

Collaboration is a powerful tool for professional development and central for creating opportunities for teachers to reflect on their practice. However, school districts continue to have difficulty both implementing and sustaining collaboration. The purpose of this research was to investigate the experience of the teacher in a creative, instructional collaboration. The teachers in this study found that teacher-initiated collaboration offered them trust and they were more open with their partners. An interpretative phenomenological analysis was used for this study as it told the story of the teacher’s experience. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was chosen for this study to capture the complex and contextual nature of the teacher experience from a creative, instructional collaborative experience. This study sought to answer the question of how teachers in a private, faith-based school experience collaboration. In particular, the researcher engaged the study’s participants in interviews where they shared their unique perspectives on their experiences in relation to this phenomenon. Through the use of interpretative phenomenological analysis, the researcher interpreted the experiences of each participant in an attempt to gain deeper insight into how teachers made sense of their understanding of collaboration. In addition to the researcher’s interpreting the meaning of this construct for each research participant, this study gave a voice to the individual experiences and positionality of each participant at the research site. Moreover, the key findings presented in this study shed light on how teachers within this particular context participated in and made sense of their experience of creating an instructional collaborative. The research presented the findings that speak to the meaning that each research participant experienced in their relation to participating in building a collaborative culture and its effect on professional and personal growth. The researcher provided recommendations for future practice and research possibilities. The research findings demonstrated the unique experiences of each participant as well as a connection to the literature within the field of teacher professional development. The results also supported the claim that teacher collaboration can facilitate school reform. Participating teachers felt less isolation and developed more teacher knowledge.

Design and Māori Values: A Rebrand Project for the Social Enterprise Sector

This paper details a rebrand design project developed for a non-profitable organization called Te Roopu Waiora (TRW), which is currently located in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. This social enterprise is dedicated to supporting the Māori community living with sensorial, physical and intellectual disabilities (whānau hauā). As part of a year three bachelor design brief, the rebrand project enabled students to reflect on Kaupapa Māori principles and appropriately address the values of the organisation. As such, the methodology used a pragmatic paradigm approach and mixed methods design practices involving a human-centred design to problem solving. As result, the student project culminated in the development in a range of cohesive design artefacts, aiming to improve the rentability and perception of the brand with the audience and stakeholders.

Realistic Simulation Methodology in Brazil’s New Medical Education Curriculum: Potentialities

Introduction: Brazil’s new national curriculum guidelines (NCG) for medical education were published in 2014, presenting active learning methodologies as a cornerstone. Simulation was initially applied for aviation pilots’ training and is currently applied in health sciences. The high-fidelity simulator replicates human body anatomy in detail, also reproducing physiological functions and its use is increasing in medical schools. Realistic Simulation (RS) has pedagogical aspects that are aligned with Brazil’s NCG teaching concepts. The main objective of this study is to carry on a narrative review on RS’s aspects that are aligned with Brazil’s new NCG teaching concepts. Methodology: A narrative review was conducted, with search in three databases (PubMed, Embase and BVS) of studies published between 2010 and 2020. Results: After systematized search, 49 studies were selected and divided into four thematic groups. RS is aligned with new Brazilian medical curriculum as it is an active learning methodology, providing greater patient safety, uniform teaching, and student's emotional skills enhancement. RS is based on reflective learning, a teaching concept developed for adult’s education. Conclusion: RS is a methodology aligned with NCG teaching concepts and has potential to assist in the implementation of new Brazilian medical school’s curriculum. It is an immersive and interactive methodology, which provides reflective learning in a safe environment for students and patients.

University Curriculum Policy Processes in Chile: A Case Study

Located within the context of accelerating globalization in the 21st-century knowledge society, this paper focuses on one selected university in Chile at which radical curriculum policy changes have been taking place, diverging from the traditional curriculum in Chile at the undergraduate level as a section of a larger investigation. Using a ‘policy trajectory’ framework, and guided by the interpretivist approach to research, interview transcripts and institutional documents were analyzed in relation to the meso (university administration) and the micro (academics) level. Inside the case study, participants from the university administration and academic levels were selected both via snow-ball technique and purposive selection, thus they had different levels of seniority, with some participating actively in the curriculum reform processes. Guided by an interpretivist approach to research, documents and interview transcripts were analyzed to reveal major themes emerging from the data. A further ‘bigger picture’ analysis guided by critical theory was then undertaken, involving interrogation of underlying ideologies and how political and economic interests influence the cultural production of policy. The case-study university was selected because it represents a traditional and old case of university setting in the country, undergoing curriculum changes based on international trends such as the competency model and the liberal arts. Also, it is representative of a particular socioeconomic sector of the country. Access to the university was gained through email contact. Qualitative research methods were used, namely interviews and analysis of institutional documents. In all, 18 people were interviewed. The number was defined by when the saturation criterion was met. Semi-structured interview schedules were based on the four research questions about influences, policy texts, policy enactment and longer-term outcomes. Triangulation of information was used for the analysis. While there was no intention to generalize the specific findings of the case study, the results of the research were used as a focus for engagement with broader themes, often evident in global higher education policy developments. The research results were organized around major themes in three of the four contexts of the ‘policy trajectory’. Regarding the context of influences and the context of policy text production, themes relate to hegemony exercised by first world countries’ universities in the higher education field, its associated neoliberal ideology, with accountability and the discourse of continuous improvement, the local responses to those pressures, and the value of interdisciplinarity. Finally, regarding the context of policy practices and effects (enactment), themes emerged around the impacts of the curriculum changes on university staff, students, and resistance amongst academics. The research concluded with a few recommendations that potentially provide ‘food for thought’ beyond the localized settings of this study, as well as possibilities for further research.

Gender Justice and Feminist Self-Management Practices in the Solidarity Economy: A Quantitative Analysis of the Factors that Impact Enterprises Formed by Women in Brazil

The Solidarity Economy (SE) acts in the re-articulation of the economic field to the other spheres of social action. The significant participation of women in SE resulted in the formation of a national network of self-managed enterprises in Brazil: The Solidarity and Feminist Economy Network (SFEN). The objective of the research is to identify factors of gender justice and feminist self-management practices that adhere to the reality of women in SE enterprises. The conceptual apparatus related to feminist studies in this research covers Nancy Fraser approaches on gender justice, and Patricia Yancey Martin approaches on feminist management practices, and authors of postcolonial feminism such as Mohanty and Maria Lugones, who lead the discussion to peripheral contexts, a necessary perspective when observing the women’s movement in SE. The research has a quantitative nature in the phases of data collection and analysis. The data collection was performed through two data sources: the database mapped in Brazil in 2010-2013 by the National Information System in Solidary Economy and 150 questionnaires with women from 16 enterprises in SFEN, in a state of Brazilian northeast. The data were analyzed using the multivariate statistical technique of Factor Analysis. The results show that the factors that define gender justice and feminist self-management practices in SE are interrelated in several levels, proving statistically the intersectional condition of the issue of women. The evidence from the quantitative analysis allowed us to understand the dimensions of gender justice and feminist management practices intersectionality; in this sense, the non-distribution of domestic work interferes in non-representation of women in public spaces, especially in peripheral contexts. The study contributes with important reflections to the studies of this area and can be complemented in the future with a qualitative research that approaches the perspective of women in the context of the SE self-management paradigm.

Learning Mandarin Chinese as a Foreign Language in a Bilingual Context: Adult Learners’ Perceptions of the Use of L1 Maltese and L2 English in Mandarin Chinese Lessons in Malta

The first language (L1) could be used in foreign language teaching and learning as a pedagogical tool to scaffold new knowledge in the target language (TL) upon linguistic knowledge that the learner already has. In a bilingual context, code-switching between the two languages usually occurs in classrooms. One of the reasons for code-switching is because both languages are used for scaffolding new knowledge. This research paper aims to find out why both the L1 (Maltese) and the L2 (English) are used in the classroom of Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) in the bilingual context of Malta. This research paper also aims to find out the learners’ perceptions of the use of a bilingual medium of instruction. Two research methods were used to collect qualitative data; semi-structured interviews with adult learners of Mandarin Chinese and lesson observations. These two research methods were used so that the data collected in the interviews would be triangulated with data collected in lesson observations. The L1 (Maltese) is the language of instruction mostly used. The teacher and the learners switch to the L2 (English) or to any other foreign language according to the need at a particular instance during the lesson.

The Effects of Country of Manufacture and Country of Brand on Purchase Intention: The Moderating Role of Brand Experience

In the past few decades, international research on the country of origin of products has garnered significant interest, particularly in investigating the effects of consumers’ evaluation and perception. As globalization and market competition rise, international firms are seeking ways to control their labour costs and minimise taxes. Many products are outsourced and manufactured in countries with cheap labour. Consequently, the proliferation of ‘bi-national’ products has increased, raising important questions related to consumers’ perception. Moreover, the rapid growth in emerging markets, especially in Asia, has made these countries attractive options for international brands. Therefore, studying the country of origin allows firms and researchers to understand how customers perceive such information regarding the country of manufacture and the country of the brand. This study aims to investigate the influence of the country of manufacture (COM) and country of brand (COB) on Thai consumers’ perception of the brand. In addition, it embraces a different perspective on brand experience as a moderating factor. A sample of 403 Thai respondents was collected through face-to-face survey questionnaires in central Bangkok. This research employs an experiment using a factorial design to test the hypotheses. SPSS statistics software was adopted to analyse and validate the reliability of the testing of the constructs and model hypotheses. The results of this research show that the respondents positively respond to the COB more than the COM, and brand experience plays a moderating role in this research. This research provides a significant contribution to the existing literature and managerial practicality by using multi-dimensional information on the country and analyses the relationships between these dimensions.

The Concept of Birthday: A Theoretical, Historical, and Social Overview, in Judaism and Other Cultures

In the age of social distance, which has been added to an individual and competitive worldview, it has become important to find a way to promote closeness and personal touch. The sense of social belonging and the existence of positive interaction with others have recently become a considerable necessity. Therefore, this theoretical paper will review one of the familiar and common concepts among different cultures around the world – birthday. This paper has a theoretical contribution that deepens the understanding of the birthday concept. Birthday rituals are historical and universal events, which noted since the prehistoric eras. In ancient history, birthday rituals were solely reserved for kings and nobility members, but over the years, birthday celebrations have evolved into a worldwide tradition. Some of the familiar birthday customs and symbols are currently common among most cultures, while some cultures have adopted for themselves unique birthday customs, which characterized their values and traditions. The birthday concept has a unique significance in Judaism as well, historically, religiously, and socially: It is considered as a lucky day and a private holiday for the celebrant. Therefore, the present paper reviews diverse birthday customs around the world in different cultures, including Judaism, and marks important birthdays throughout history. The paper also describes how the concept of birthday appears over the years in songs, novels, and art, and presents quotes from distinguished sages. The theoretical review suggests that birthday has a special meaning as a time-mark in the cycle of life, and as a socialization means in human development. Moreover, the birthday serves as a symbol of belonging and group cohesiveness, a day in which the celebrant's sense of belonging and sense of importance are strengthened and nurtured. Thus, the reappearance of these elements in a family or group interaction during the birthday ceremony allows the celebrant to absorb positive impressions about himself. In view of the extensive theoretical review, it seems that the unique importance of birthdays can serve as the foundation for intervention programs that may affect the participants’ sense of belonging and empowerment. In the group aspect, perhaps it can also yield therapeutic factors within a group. Concrete recommendations are presented at the end of the paper.

Challenging Hegemonic Masculinity in Nigerian Hip Hop: An Evaluation of Gender Representation in Falz the Bahd Guy’s Moral Instruction Album

The Nigerian hip-hop music genre, like the African American scene where it was adopted from, is riddled with musical lyrics that amplify and normalize hypermasculinity, homophobia, sexism, and objectification of women. Several factors are responsible for this anomaly; however, the greatest factor is the urge of hip-hop musicians to achieve the commercial success that is dependent on selling records and appealing to the established societal accepted norm for hip-hop music. Consequently, this paper presents a counter-narrative of this gender representation within the Nigerian hip-hop industry. This study analyzed the musical lyrics of the ‘Hypocrisy’ track on the 2019 album of famous Nigerian rapper, Falz the Bahd Guy; and argued that Falz in this album challenged the predominant ideas of hegemonic masculinity by singing in favor of LGBT people and women. Also, based on the success of this album, this paper argues that a hip-hop album can achieve commercial success without aligning with predominant hip-hop parameters of gender representation. The study recommends that future studies should evaluate the reactions of Nigerians to these gender presentations by Falz the Bahd guy.

Language Policy as an Instrument for Nation Building and Minority Representation: Supporting Cases from South Asia

Nation-building has been a key consideration in ethno-linguistically diverse post-colonial ‘artificial states’, where ethnic tensions, religious differences and the risk of persecution of minorities are common. Language policy can help with nation-building, but it can also hinder the process. An important challenge is in recognising which language policy to adopt. This article proposes that the designation of a widely used lingua franca as a national language (in an official capacity or otherwise) - in a culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse post-colonial state - assists its nation-building efforts in the long run. To demonstrate, this paper looks at the cases of Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India: three young nations which together emerged out of the Second World War with comparable colonial experiences, but subsequently adopted different language policies to different effects. Insights presented underscore the significance of inclusive language policy in sustainable nation-building in states with comparable post-colonial experiences.

The Destruction of Confucianism and Socialism in Chinese Popular Comedy Films

Since 2010, the genre of comedy became predominant in film market in China. However, compared with the huge commercial success, these films received severe public criticism. These films are referred as trash (lan pian) by the public because of the fragment narrative, the non-professional photographing and advocating money warship. The paper aims to explain the contradictive phenomena between the higher box office and the lower mouth of word within hegemony theory. Four popular comedies that ranked top 20 in domestic revenue in the year the film released will be chosen to analyze their popularity in general. Differing from other popular films, these comedies’ popularity is generated from their disruptive pleasures instead of good stories or photographing. The destruction in Confucianism and socialism formulated the public consent or popularity, and caused the public criticism as well. Moreover, the happy-endings restore the normality at the superficial level.

Exploring the Potential of Chatbots in Higher Education: A Preliminary Study

We report upon a study introducing a chatbot to develop learning communities at a London University, with a largely international student base. The focus of the chatbot was twofold; to ease the transition for students into their first year of university study, and to increase study engagement. Four learning communities were created using the chatbot; level 3 foundation, level 4 undergraduate, level 6 undergraduate and level 7 post-graduate. Students and programme leaders were provided with access to the chat bot via mobile app prior to their study induction and throughout the autumn term of 2019. At the end of the term, data were collected via questionnaires and focus groups with students and teaching staff to allow for identification of benefits and challenges. Findings indicated a positive correlation between study engagement and engagement with peers. Students reported that the chatbot enabled them to obtain support and connect to their programme leader. Both staff and students also made recommendation on how engagement could be further enhanced using the bot in terms of; clearly specified purpose, integration with existing university systems, leading by example and connectivity. Extending upon these recommendations, a second pilot study is planned for September 2020, for which the focus will be upon improving attendance rates, student satisfaction and module pass rates.

Gaze Patterns of Skilled and Unskilled Sight Readers Focusing on the Cognitive Processes Involved in Reading Key and Time Signatures

Expert sight readers rely on their ability to recognize patterns in scores, their inner hearing and prediction skills in order to perform complex sight reading exercises. They also have the ability to observe deviations from expected patterns in musical scores. This increases the “Eye-hand span” (reading ahead of the point of playing) in order to process the elements in the score. The study aims to investigate the gaze patterns of expert and non-expert sight readers focusing on key and time signatures. 20 musicians were tasked with playing 12 sight reading examples composed for one hand and five examples composed for two hands to be performed on a piano keyboard. These examples were composed in different keys and time signatures and included accidentals and changes of time signature to test this theory. Results showed that the experts fixate more and for longer on key and time signatures as well as deviations in examples for two hands than the non-expert group. The inverse was true for the examples for one hand, where expert sight readers showed fewer and shorter fixations on key and time signatures as well as deviations. This seems to suggest that experts focus more on the key and time signatures as well as deviations in complex scores to facilitate sight reading. The examples written for one appeared to be too easy for the expert sight readers, compromising gaze patterns.

Leveraging Hyperledger Iroha for the Issuance and Verification of Higher-Education Certificates

Higher Education is resisting the pull of technology, especially as this concerns the issuance and verification of degrees and certificates. It is widely known that education certificates are largely produced in paper form making them vulnerable to damage while holders of such certificates are dependent on the universities and other issuing organisations. QualiChain is an EU Horizon 2020 (H2020) research project aiming to transform and revolutionise the domain of public education and its ties with the job market by leveraging blockchain, analytics and decision support to develop a platform for the verification and sharing of education certificates. Blockchain plays an integral part in the QualiChain solution in providing a trustworthy environment to store, share and manage such accreditations. Under the context of this paper, three prominent blockchain platforms (Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Iroha) were considered as a means of experimentation for creating a system with the basic functionalities that will be needed for trustworthy degree verification. The methodology and respective system developed and presented in this paper used Hyperledger Iroha and proved that this specific platform can be used to easily develop decentralize applications. Future papers will attempt to further experiment with other blockchain platforms and assess which has the best potential.

Influence and Dissemination of Solecism among Moroccan High School and University Students

Mass media seem to provide a rich content for language acquisition. Exposure to television, the Internet, the mobile phone and other technological gadgets and devices helps enrich the student’s lexicon positively as well as negatively. The difficulties encountered by students while learning and acquiring second languages in addition to their eagerness to comprehend the content of a particular program prompt them to diversify their methods so as to achieve their targets. The present study highlights the significance of certain media channels and their involvement in language acquisition with the employment of the Natural Approach to further grasp whether students, especially secondary and high school students, learn and acquire errors through watching subtitled television programs. The chief objective is investigating the deductive and inductive relevance of certain programs beside the involvement of peripheral learning while acquiring mistakes.