Research

RESEARCH

Our lab seeks to answer the following questions: How do students become competent learners and scientists? And, how can interactive learning environments support this transition? Specifically, we use fine-grain data to study the  development of scientific literacies, creative thinking, collaborative learning, and sense making. Our research is rooted in frameworks and methodologies from education,, cognitive science, learning analytics and educational data mining, and human-computer interaction. 

Here are several examples of our current research projects:

inquiry

Engagement in Inquiry Learning

As science education shifts towards focusing on the processes rather than products of science, it is increasingly clear that scientific inquiry should play a major role in science learning. In our work we seek to answer the following question: how does productive inquiry “look” like? Ask teachers whether they know if their students are making progress, and answers will be all over the place. On a nutshell, while we understand the principles behind productive inquiry, we still do not know how to identify one.

In this line of work we identify and support productive inquiry in virtual labs and interactive simulations. Using the PhET simulations, we study which online behaviours correlate with positive shifts in knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The outcomes of this line of work are three-fold. First, we seek to better understand scientific inquiry in the context of learning with virtual labs. Second, we design unobtrusive assessments that can evaluate students’ inquiry processes. Last, we seek to feed back 

This work is support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF).

gameBased

Game-Based Learning

Educational digital games can be powerful agents for teaching and assessment. Done right,, games increase motivation, agency and self efficacy - all crucial factors in meaningful, robust learning.

Due to their digital nature, these games offer a way to unobtrusively and continuously assess the learning process, and to give individualized feedback to support it.

We use games as dynamic and engaging research environments. They enable us to evaluate various aspects and principles in the psychology of learning and the learning sciences Thanks to this work we better understand how to design effective and engaging educational games.

Intelligent Assessments

Traditional assessments stand utterly challenged in measuring complex competencies such as creative thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and other key 21-century skills. Common to these competencies is the focus on learning processes rather than products. This different requires a paradigm shift in evaluation and assessment.

Intelligent assessment is a new research field that relies heavily on the integration between psychometrics and learning analytics practices. It engages the challenge of measuring complex competencies with tools such as interactive computer simulations and games. For example, an interactive computer task could allow tracking of the iterative process of creative thinking by monitoring the dynamics of attempts to solve a problem. These dynamics could then be modeled as a proxy for the specific skill of creative thinking.

Measuring the 21-century skills within the school system has growing support among educational practitioners, as expressed in the consolidation of 'the alumni character' by Israel's ministry of education. Developing intelligent assessment tools has become a top priority.

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Online learning in Higher Education

Supporting and measuring learning is a tricky business. Doing so when learning happens online, in a remote context is even trickier. Our research focuses on the relationship between learning designs, learning assessments, and students’ ability to demonstrate learning that lasts over time, transfers to new situations, and prepares them for future learning instances in authentic academic contexts.
In our work, we evaluate actual and perceived learning gains from both the students’ perspective as well as the instructors’ perspective, and use these evaluations to better tailor and design STEM curricula and assessment. We use data collected by the Learning Management System, as well as surveys, interviews, and assessments, to understand how higher education adapts itself to new goals, and how it makes use of new pedagogies and affordances (e.g., flipped classroom or interactive technologies), to achieve these goals.

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Learning Dashboards

Learning technologies generate massive amounts of data. This information is used to better understand and support learning. However, typically, this data is not fed back to the learners themselves.
In this line of work we study the challenge of giving learners access to their own data. How can data become meaningful information that help learners improve their learning? For example, how can we provide learners with insights about their inquiry behaviours in interactive simulation, or on their collaborative writing in a shared document? What is the impact of dashboards on learners’ habits and skills?

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Problem-Solving Before Instruction

Supporting and measuring learning is a tricky business. Doing so when learning happens online, in a remote context is even trickier. Our research focuses on the relationship between learning designs, learning assessments, and students’ ability to demonstrate learning that lasts over time, transfers to new situations, and prepares them for future learning instances in authentic academic contexts.
In our work, we evaluate actual and perceived learning gains from both the students’ perspective as well as the instructors’ perspective, and use these evaluations to better tailor and design STEM curricula and assessment. We use data collected by the Learning Management System, as well as surveys, interviews, and assessments, to understand how higher education adapts itself to new goals, and how it makes use of new pedagogies and affordances (e.g., flipped classroom or interactive technologies), to achieve these goals.