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LASER Institute Selects 2024 Cohort of Scholars

The Learning Analytics in STEM Education Research (LASER) Institute, founded by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, has selected its first cohort of LASER Institute scholars for LASER BEAM (Broadening Education in Advanced Methods), the next phase of the LASER Institute funded by the National Science Foundation. Led by Shaun Kellogg, principal investigator and the director of the Learning Analytics and Data Science team at the Friday Institute, LASER BEAM is a collaborative partnership between education faculty from NC State University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

LASER BEAM builds upon the prior NSF-funded LASER Institute, which aims to increase the number of education researchers capable of leveraging new sources of data and applying data-intensive research methods to understand and improve student learning. To help achieve this goal, participating LASER Scholars will:

  1. Learn how to apply learning analytics in support of their own research. The LASER team has developed a modular curriculum composed of carefully scaffolded instructional activities that will be used to train scholars in advanced methods such as machine learning, network analysis, knowledge tracing and text mining. 
  2. Teach faculty, staff and students at their home institutions. As part of LASER BEAM, participating scholars will develop an instructional plan and incorporate LASER curriculum modules into graduate-level programs, courses or workshops at their home university or research institution.

“Our goal for this new cohort is to empower scholars to uncover deeper insights into student learning dynamics through state-of-the-art learning analytics methodologies and, more importantly, teach these advanced methodologies at their home institutions,” said Shiyan Jiang, a co-principal investigator for the LASER Institute and assistant professor of learning design and technology in the NC State College of Education. “I’m excited to work with this year’s scholars and look forward to the impact they will have on learners at their organization.”

The LASER Institute will kick off this year with a weeklong summer workshop held at the Friday Institute July 22-26 in Raleigh, North Carolina. This intensive, in-person workshop consists of differentiated learning modules, pedagogy and design sessions, and community-building activities to support scholars in their own professional learning and help them to develop an instruction plan for teaching others during the academic year. During the academic year, ongoing support is provided through an online community to help scholars continue their professional learning and ensure they can successfully carry out instructional plans at their home institutions.

The University of Pennsylvania is a new partner to the LASER team this year, led by Ryan Baker, principal investigator and professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Baker is the director of the Penn Center for Learning Analytics and studies how data can better be used to study and improve online learning. Using data from educational software, he examines how students respond to computer lessons, focusing on engagement and disengagement, and how these responses impact learning.

“I am excited to join the LASER Institute for its first year of being in partnership between NC State and Penn,” said Baker. “We’ve carefully hand-picked an exceptional group of scholars who combine top-notch expertise in research with enthusiasm about teaching learning analytics at their institutions—I can’t wait to see what they bring to the world, both in their scholarship and in the courses they teach at their universities.”

See below for this year’s group of scholars.

2024 Cohort of LASER Scholars

  • Catherine Manly; Assistant Professor; Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Erin Ottmar; Associate Professor of Learning Sciences; Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Carl Haynes-Magyar; Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow; Carnegie Mellon University
  • Emmanuel Dorley; Assistant Professor; University of Florida
  • Zarifa Zakaria; Postdoctoral Scholar; Postdoctoral Scholar; North Carolina State University
  • David Stokes; Teaching Coordinator; North Carolina State University – Data Science Academy
  • Xi Lu; Assistant in Research; Florida State University
  • Juhee Kim; Assistant Professor; University of Idaho
  • Chenxi Liu; Researcher; Stanford University
  • Todd Reeves; Associate Professor; Northern Illinois University
  • Yingjie Liu; Lead Instructional Designer; San Jose State University
  • Stephanie Moore; Assistant Professor; University of New Mexico
  • Mia Williams; Assistant Professor, Learning Design and Technology; University of Wyoming
  • Adrian Neely; Associate Director of Research; Morehouse College
  • Meseret Hailu; Assistant Professor; Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia
  • Megan Atha; Assistant Professor; Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Kuang Li; Academic Researcher; Boston University Professional Development & Postdoctoral Affairs
  • Peggy Lisenbee; Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education; Texas Woman’s University
  • Jianjun Wang; Professor; California State University, Bakersfield
  • Osasohan Agbonlahor; Assistant Professor; North Carolina A&T State University
  • Eunsung Park; Assistant Professor; Tennessee Tech University
  • Jennifer Tripp; Postdoctoral Research Associate; University at Buffalo, SUNY
  • Darryl Reano; Assistant Professor; Arizona State University
  • Mohan Yang; Assistant Professor; Old Dominion University -> Texas A&M (starting in July)
  • Peng Lu; Assistant Professor; University of Georgia
  • Patricia Ramirez-Biondolillo; Professor of Practice; The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Rogers Bhalalusesa; Lecturer; The Open University of Tanzania
  • Moe Greene; Faculty and Director; Virginia Commonwealth University