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Innovation

Bracketology and the Collective Brain

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Oct 22 2018

 

  

INDIANAPOLIS—It is believed by most that many brains are more powerful than one. So, when it is time, for example, to guess how many gumballs are in a jar, the average of the group’s guesses is probably better than most of the individual guesses.

But, there isn’t much out there that really explains why that is, says Ryan Rogers, Butler University Assistant Professor of Entertainment Media and Journalism.

Rogers looked into this concept using one of America’s favorite past times—filling out March Madness brackets. He wanted to find out what exactly makes collective intelligence effective.

“Yes, we know crowd sourcing is beneficial, but what are those traits, and tasks, that are going to make the group impactful in its decision-making process?” Rogers says. “What kind of group is most effective and what kinds of tasks lend itself to crowd sourcing?”

Individuals were divided up based on their backgrounds and expertise in college basketball. One group was made up of serious college basketball fans. The other group was made up of college basketball experts, for example, journalists, former players, coaches, or others with insights beyond just being an engaged fan.

Each group then filled out NCAA tournament brackets using collective intelligence software. The goal, Rogers says, was to see how group make-up would impact the effectiveness of collective intelligence, and therefore, the infamous activity of avoiding a busted bracket after, well, one round.

The results, published in the Journal of Creative Communications, showed that the experts and the fans performed similarly throughout the first few rounds of the tournament. However, the experts gained a real edge over the fans as the tournament progressed—as the task became more difficult. When it came to the later rounds—games that are typically more challenging and complicated to predict—the experts had more success in picking winners than the fans.

“There’s a passion and there’s an interest,” he says. “It is not just about having a buddy who knows basketball, but our study showed that it is about the group dynamic, and that specific traits impact how successful the group will be. In addition to the traits of a group, our study showed task matters, too. The more difficult the task, the more important the make-up of the group.”

The results are important, Rogers says, because they can be applied to many fields and subject matters much more complicated than guessing gumballs in a jar or filling out a bracket.

The experts separated themselves in the later rounds of the tournament—when the task was more complicated and collective wisdom, therefore, mattered more, Rogers says. This distinction is a crucial finding.

When it comes to solving a complex engineering problem, for example, he says, it would be important to think about getting a group of experts together. Rogers compares that to asking a bunch of stargazers to solve a complex astrophysics problem. Collective intelligence, he says, wouldn’t help that group.

“Their love of the subject matter won’t matter because the topic is highly complex,” he says. “They simply don’t have enough technical knowledge to leverage the wisdom of the crowd. That is what, essentially, this study teaches us. It is not just that many brains are better than one, but who the group is made up of that impacts its effectiveness.”

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656
 

 

Innovation

Bracketology and the Collective Brain

Assistant Professor Ryan Rogers has new research that reveals when many brains are better than one. 

Oct 22 2018 Read more
United States Marine Band
Innovation

One Night Only: Colburn to Rejoin "The President's Own" United States Marine Band

BY Marc Allan

PUBLISHED ON Sep 14 2018

You can take the colonel out of the band, but you can't take the band out of the colonel.

So when “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band comes through the Indianapolis area on October 27, retired Col. Michael Colburn—now in his fifth year as Director of Bands at Butler University—will return to the podium. He'll conduct the band he led for 10 years in a performance of John Williams' "The Adventures of Han" from the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story.

"I was really thrilled to get the invitation," Colburn said. "And this will be a chance for a local audience to realize that they have a connection to the Marine Band that perhaps they weren't aware of right here at Butler."

Colburn, who directed the Marine Band from 2004-2014, said he received the invitation from his successor, Col. Jason Fettig, after Fettig found out that the band's tour would stop in Carmel, right outside Indianapolis.

They decided that it would be most appropriate for Colburn to conduct a piece by Williams because during Colburn's tenure with the band, he established a close relationship with the famed composer.

Their friendship started with a letter about 20 years ago—Colburn wrote to Williams asking him to guest-conduct the Marine Band, and Williams did. They collaborated several other times, including in 2004 when Williams requested that Marine Band perform his music during the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to him.

"Col. Colburn's distinguished service as the 27th Director of the U.S. Marine Band had an immeasurable impact on the ongoing success and reputation of this historic ensemble," Fettig said. "He spearheaded many notable artistic achievements for the organization during his time at the helm, not the least of which is developing our close relationship with famed composer and conductor John Williams. I'm absolutely thrilled to welcome Col. Colburn back to the podium of "The President's Own."

The rest of the concert at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel will feature a selection of patriotic music—Sousa marches such as "Semper Fidelis" and "Stars and Stripes Forever" (that's Colburn conducting in these video clips)—as well as some recent original music for wind band.

"This concert is a rare opportunity to hear the Marine band," Colburn said. "They only come through this area once every 4-5 years at most. I encourage people to get out there and get a little taste of what people in Washington, DC, and especially people in the White House get to hear all the time. This is really one of our national musical treasures."

"The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band will perform at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel on October 27. Ticket and tour information is available here.

Media Contact:
Marc Allan
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

United States Marine Band
Innovation

One Night Only: Colburn to Rejoin "The President's Own" United States Marine Band

Butler's Director of Bands will conduct his former band when they come to area on October 27. 

Sep 14 2018 Read more
Jeremy Johnson
Innovation

Butler Professor Receives NSF Grant to Study Class of Enzymes Linked with Cancer Growth

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Aug 14 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – It happened by accident.

Jeremy Johnson, Butler University Associate Professor of Chemistry, was looking at images of acyl protein thioesterases, or APTs. Because proteins are smaller than the wavelength of light, they cannot be seen by eye, or even with a microscope. So, proteins are crystalized, and then static images are taken, revealing what they look like at one point in time.

But, when Johnson looked at the APT images closely, he saw something he had never seen before, and something, he says, that is quite rare – the protein in multiple states.

“Our image showed the APT in open and closed states or active and inactive,” Johnson says. “Normally, we think of proteins as static, or as staying in one position, and only recently have we started to appreciate the idea of natural movements of proteins.”

With an $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Johnson will be researching why we should appreciate that very idea. Seeing the image of the APT in a dynamic state enabled Johnson to hypothesize a whole new set of ideas about what this protein could potentially impact – cancer progression, neural deterioration, and immune functions, he says.

“Once we had this image and saw it was dynamic, we were able to start to hypothesize how this protein could be important within a cell,” he says. “All of a sudden new possibilities emerged that we knew we wanted to research more. Once we knew the structure, new alleys for research questions opened.”

APTs are a class of enzymes that are linked with cancer growth, neural degeneration, and bacterial infections. But, this photo revealed they are also dynamic – something that was not previously known.

Now, Johnson says, he is set to dive into what this dynamic function actually means, and how it could impact those important links. Some questions his lab will focus on include looking at how the dynamic nature of this protein could impact APTs as a future drug target, and how it might relate to cancer and immune functions.

After seeing the image, Johnson says his team will start to look into how that movement is related to the regulation of the protein and how that can impact the biological functions of APTs.

“You always hope there is relation to the big picture,” Johnson says. “We are going to be looking at the dynamic movement and if that movement is essential to biological function. You hope that movement is related to the big picture things that we know this protein is already involved in.”

Also, as part of the NSF grant, research occurring in Johnson’s lab will be integrated into undergraduate classroom laboratories, giving a wide range of students the chance to participate in the research. There will also be a new molecular biophysics laboratory added to the biochemistry major at Butler.

All of this, Johnson says, because of an accident.

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
914-815-5656

Jeremy Johnson
Innovation

Butler Professor Receives NSF Grant to Study Class of Enzymes Linked with Cancer Growth

Butler Chemistry Professor Jeremy Johnson discovered something in his research that no one had seen before.

Aug 14 2018 Read more
Brain
Innovation

Outsmarting the Test: Concussions & ImPACT

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Jul 31 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – Before the start of most seasons, chances are high that athletes have gone through a computerized exam called ImPACT, or Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. It is a process that has become almost synonymous with preseason conditioning tests and two-a-days.

The ImPACT Test, one of the most widely used of several similar concussion management tools, is a computer-based test that measures shape recall, reaction time, attention, working memory, and other mental abilities. Individuals are given the test to establish a baseline score at the start of a season, then those who suffer a head injury are tested again before being allowed to return to play.

But, baseline results may not be as accurate as ImPACT claims.

According to new research from Butler University Director of Undergraduate Health Science Programs, Dr. Amy Peak, and former Butler health science student Courtney Raab, individuals are outsmarting the test. Previous studies, including one cited by ImPACT’s “Administration and Interpretation Manual,” say 89 percent of ‘sandbaggers,’ or individuals purposefully doing poorly on the test, are flagged. But, according to Peak and Raab’s research, only half are caught.

“If baseline scores aren’t accurate, that could likely lead to individuals returning to play before they are healed, or individuals returning to normal activity prior to their brain being ready,” Peak says. “This is a very dangerous situation because it is clear that individuals who have had one concussion are at greater risk of having subsequent concussions.”

So why cheat the system?

Many athletes don’t want to miss playing time. In fact, a study found in 2017 that nearly a third of athletes didn’t give their best effort on computerized neurocognitive tests, such as ImPACT.

The ImPACT Test is key when it comes to making return to play decisions. Though not the only determining factor, comparing test scores is routinely something trainers or doctors do to see if the individual can return to action or regular activities.

“Athletes get smart about how to take this test and they admit to wanting to return to action as soon as possible,” Peak says. “Some athletes ignore the risks, and just want to play, so if this test can be cheated, they will do it.”

Their research shows that those who attempted to sandbag were successful, as long as they didn’t try to do too poorly on the test.

There were 77 volunteers who participated in the study, 40 of whom were told to sandbag the test and 37 of whom were told to try their best. Of the 37 volunteers in the control group, none were flagged for invalid results. But of the 40 sandbaggers, 20 successfully tricked the test.

The key to not getting flagged by the test was to get questions wrong, but not too many questions.

“The group that scored much lower than our control got flagged, but the group that did bad, but not too bad were not caught,” Peak says. “Our research revealed that you can get away with doing poorly, sneak through with a low score, if your score isn’t outrageously low.”

Instead of the 89 percent rate of catching sandbaggers that previous research suggests, Peak and Raab’s research revealed just a 50 percent rate. However, Peak says, the takeaway is not to scrap the entire ImPACT Test. Peak says their research points to the fact that key aspects of the widely used test should be reevaluated.

The ImPACT Test’s five built-in invalidity indicators, which are designed to flag results which suggest underperformance, are not working well, she says. Peak and Raab’s research found that only two of those indicators detected more than 15 percent of test takers who tried to trick the test.

“There are some invalidity indicators that are really ineffective. Our research showed us that these indicators are not sensitive enough,” Peak says. “There are many things to consider. Are the indicators even right? Maybe the cutoffs should be higher? These are all important questions. But one thing we do know is that a much greater percentage of individuals can purposefully underperform without detection and we need to delve deeper into how to improve the test.”

 

Brain
Innovation

Outsmarting the Test: Concussions & ImPACT

 Butler University researchers show individuals outsmart popular concussion test 50% of time.

Jul 31 2018 Read more
Innovation

Butler Launches Online Master’s in Risk and Insurance

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jul 12 2018

Butler University's Lacy School of Business will introduce an online Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (MSRI) program—among the first of its kind in the nation—beginning in January 2019 to help address the gap between the risk and insurance industry’s personnel needs and the limited talent pool that exists in today’s job market. 

The degree is intended to serve students who aspire to advanced roles in corporate risk management. It will also serve students with a few years of finance or legal experience seeking employment in the insurance field, as well as early-phase professionals already working for insurance firms in both property and casualty, and life and health, and students who have an undergraduate degree in risk and insurance and want to pursue advanced study in the industry. 

More information about the program is available www.butler.edu/msri. Applications will be open beginning August 1.

“The need for risk management professionals in the professional services industry is well-documented," said Donald J. Ortegel, Resident Managing Director of Aon. "The good news is that the trend line is positive for professionals with a specific, applicable risk management four-year degree. Someone holding an advanced degree or additional education in this area would have an edge over other professionals competing for open and career-advancement opportunities.”

The part-time MSRI program will be conducted exclusively online, except for two required in-residence experiences—one on the Butler campus at the start of the program and one at the end of the program in the “world's risk capital,” Bermuda. Coursework will take approximately 24 months to complete.

Zach Finn, Clinical Professor and Director of Butler’s Davey Risk Management and Insurance program, said Butler's goal with the new MSRI program is to prepare students for an industry that anticipates needing 400,000 new employees by 2020.

"As one insurance executive said in our focus group: 'This degree is an automatic $10,000 raise for any employee who acquires it,'” said Victor Puleo, Butler Associate Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, who will run the MSRI program.

The MSRI curriculum will include content dealing with property and casualty, and health and life. It also will have unique and hard-to-find courses on insurance-linked securities and a hands-on opportunity to run a captive insurance entity.

Puleo said graduates of the program will have access to some of the best jobs available for corporate risk managers. Other candidates will be able to enter or accelerate their careers with insurance carriers and brokers. High-caliber graduates from this program will possess the capability to attain senior level positions in these firms.

Butler already boasts a robust undergraduate program for Risk Management and Insurance, including the MJ Student-Run Insurance Company, known in industry parlance as a “captive.”

The company, the first of its kind for a university, insures Butler programs and items including the live mascot Butler Blue III, rare books, artwork, and the telescope at the Holcomb Observatory. Students learn how to write the insurance policy and what the coverage terms will be, and they're figuring out how to finance the company. In doing so, they are able to apply their risk-management expertise in accounting, investments, and numerous other areas.

 

Media contact:
Marc Allan MFA '18
mallan@butler.edu
317-940-9822

Innovation

Butler Launches Online Master’s in Risk and Insurance

"This degree is an automatic $10,000 raise for any employee who acquires it."

Jul 12 2018 Read more
Innovation

Kenzie Academy, Butler University Executive Education Partner to Accelerate Tech Careers

BY

PUBLISHED ON Jun 20 2018

Kenzie Academy, an Indianapolis-based education and apprenticeship program that develops modern tech workers, and Butler University, a private liberal arts and professional education institution with a 160-year history of leading innovation in higher education, today announced a strategic partnership to offer a new model of education to the next generation of technology professionals. Through this innovative partnership, all Kenzie Academy graduates will receive a joint Kenzie Academy and Butler Executive Education certificate at the completion of the Kenzie Academy Front-End Web Development, Full-Stack Web Development, and Software Engineering programs.

The Kenzie-Butler certificate offers a new educational model with a path to employment to a wide range of Hoosiers looking for alternatives to a traditional, four-year college education. Kenzie’s programs are designed to be less expensive and less time-intensive than a four-year degree. By blending elements of traditional college with immersive learning and paid work, individuals from all different backgrounds, including recent high school graduates, those re-entering the workforce, and those looking to shift careers, will have the opportunity to gain education and work experience in high-demand, technical fields. Butler is adding Kenzie’s program to its offerings through its Executive Education program.

“We took notice of Kenzie Academy as soon as it appeared in Indiana,” said Jim Danko, President of Butler University. “The dynamics in higher education today require universities to think beyond the traditional models of the past century. Participating in a new model of education with Kenzie Academy, which is reimagining the way learning is delivered, will extend the market Butler currently serves beyond the traditional four-year residential undergraduate student. Butler University is excited to expand the way we serve the high-growth, high-energy technology community in Indianapolis and the greater Midwest alongside Kenzie Academy.”

Kenzie Academy, a college alternative, offers courses in Front-End Web Development (six months), Full-Stack Web Development (one year), and Software Engineering (two years). Kenzie’s career track programs combine paid apprenticeship work and immersive learning, closing the gap between learning and working. The software development courses cover modern programming languages and the most relevant computer science concepts. Students meet and network with local and national tech leaders, and are provided with one-on-one mentorship. Through Kenzie Studios, Kenzie Academy’s consulting arm, students complete real-world consulting projects for industry clients and are paid for their work. Students can use an Income Share Agreement (ISA) in place of tuition to finance their training at Kenzie, making the program accessible to people without the financial means to pay tuition up front.

“We feel Butler University is the perfect partner for Kenzie, and we’re proud to jointly offer a new type of learning model to the market. Kenzie’s unique approach to developing students who are knowledgeable in the latest technical competencies combined with Butler Executive Education’s proven success in developing workforce leaders creates a powerful solution for producing the talent critically needed by employers,” said William Gulley, Executive Director of Butler Executive Education.

Through the partnership with Butler Executive Education, Kenzie students will have the opportunity to develop skills in areas frequently noted by employers as critical to an individual’s overall success, including communication, problem-solving, change management and basic business acumen. These educational opportunities will be developed and delivered in the form of micro-credentials, allowing students to create a personalized curriculum, and additional certification, in the areas that complement Kenzie’s curriculum and are aligned with a student’s personal interest, capability and future career path.

“We can’t think of a better institution than Butler University to launch this first university partnership,” said Chok Leang Ooi, co-founder and CEO of Kenzie Academy. “Butler has a strong history of doing things differently. We’re excited to bring our innovative institutions together to level the playing field for anyone who wants a first-class education and a chance to be part of the tech ecosystem in Indiana.”

 

Media contact:
Rachel Stern
rstern@butler.edu
317-940-9257

Innovation

Kenzie Academy, Butler University Executive Education Partner to Accelerate Tech Careers

Students completing the program will receive a joint certificate from Kenzie Academy, Butler Executive Education.

Jun 20 2018 Read more

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