Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou

Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Guy Bond Chair in Reading, Department of Educational Psychology

Pani develops and examines the efficacy of educational technologies to facilitate learning and assessment of processes and outcomes at scale. She is also exploring new approaches to reducing the impact of misinformation and developing digital media literacy.

Caitlin Mills

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Caitlin’s research is at the intersection of cognitive psychology, computer science, and education. She is particularly interested in the antecedents and consequences of mind wandering, boredom, and engagement. Other interests include investigating affective states and task-unrelated thought in educational contexts, such as during complex learning from educational technologies.

Lab Coordinator

Jeffrey K. Bye

Lecturer, Department of Educational Psychology, LIL Affiliate Faculty

Jeff (he/him) blends cognitive and learning science approaches to understanding how people learn and think about math, science, and programming. He is particularly interested in student learning of algebra and statistics, and helping students to connect their intuitive thinking to abstract concepts.

Core Faculty

Laura Allen

Assistant Professor and Bonnie Westby Huebner Chair, Department of Educational Psychology

Laura leverages theories and methodologies from cognitive science, learning science, linguistics, and education to examine the ways in which individuals learn and communicate through text and discourse. She is particularly interested in the use of computational linguistics approaches to glean theoretical insights into students’ learning processes as well as to develop and refine adaptive educational technologies.

David DeLiema

Assistant Professor,
Department of Educational Psychology

David studies how moments of failure, playful experiences, embodied cognition, and epistemic cognition shape learning in computer science, family play outdoors, video games, and other STEM domains. Through research-practice partnerships, his research examines cognitive and psychological processes within the context of social interaction, and often takes place within technology-rich settings.

Keisha Varma

Associate Vice Provost, Office for Equity and Diversity
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Keisha Varma’s current research projects focus on how to improve access to high quality STEM experiences and how to provide equitable STEM learning experiences. In her work, she is exploring the ways that innovative approaches within the field of learning analytics can advance our knowledge of disparities in STEM education experiences and improve the ways that we address persistent inequities.

Affiliate Faculty

Bodong Chen

Associate Professor, Learning Sciences and Technologies,
Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania,

LIL Co-Founder

Bodong designs digital learning environments and pedagogical practices to reimagine learning and education. He also conducts computational research of complex learning processes and designs learning analytics apps for decision-making in education.

Dongyeop Kang (DK)

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

DK develops human-centric language technologies. He also leads the Minnesota Natural Language Processing (NLP) group which develops interdisciplinary methods for NLP models based on theories in linguistics and cognitive/social sciences and builds interactive NLP systems for scientists, creative writers, and language learners. 

Joseph A. Konstan

Distinguished McKnight Professor and Distinguished University Teaching Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Associate Dean for Research,
College of Science and Engineering

Joseph’s research addresses human-computer interaction issues, including personalizing the learning experience, on-line community information systems, computer systems to improve health, and ethics of online research.


Assistant Professor,
Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development

Meixi (she/they) designs learning at the edges of school, families, and lands towards Indigenous futures across Thailand, México and most recently Mní Sota Makoce. Meixi studies how land-based stories, Indigneous mobilities, and original and digital technologies can support human learning, becoming, and collective wellbeing alongside the rest of the living world.

Cassandra Scharber

Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Cassie is committed to community-engaged projects and scholarship with local school districts, and serves as a lead for CSforAll-MN, Minnesota’s chapter of the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) alliance that supports K-12 computer science education. Her research spans the areas of technology integration, digital literacies, and computational thinking.

Xiaoran Sun

Assistant Professor, Department of Family Social Science

Xiaoran is interested in how the integration of different data types and methodological advances can further our understanding of family systems and adolescent development situated in larger social ecologies—including sociocultural and digital contexts. Specifically, she uses high-intensity smartphone data to study how digital technology may impact family dynamics and adolescent development, and leverages machine learning methods to make long-term predictions of adolescents’ future achievement outcomes based on their early experiences.

Sashank Varma

Professor, School of Interactive Computing, School of Psychology, Georgia Tech,

LIL Co-Founder

Sashank’s research ranges from scientific studies of mathematical and computational thinking to investigations of student learning at scale.

Andrew Zieffler

Teaching Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Andy designs curricular materials to engage teachers and students in the content of and data science. He also studies how students and teachers engage with these materials in order to better understand how to support the learning process.

Post-doctoral Associates

Craig’s research focuses on the cognitive influences of video game play. Craig’s dissertation explored how players of a notoriously challenging video game, Cuphead, conceptualize and react to failure. Currently, he works on the Playful Problem Solving Project, investigating how young players solve problems in the puzzle game Baba is You.

Zixi is interested in studying individuals’ learning and social-emotional behaviors in virtual space within the local community and macro-level policy contexts. Her research interest is linked with methodological studies of hierarchical linear modeling, social network analysis, sensitivity analysis, and text analysis.

Mengchen is interested in quantitative methods and applied machine learning for school improvement and whole child development in K-12 education, focusing on educational equity and diversity. Her current research evaluates the integration of school climate and social-emotional data into a K-12 dropout early warning system to support students’ perseverance and growth.


Sam’s research interests are centered around middle school science education, culturally responsive teaching, learning by argumentation, and discourse-centric learning analytics.

Zack’s research focuses on how moments of failure influence learning and how educators can leverage these moments to be productive for learning. To this end, his current work has focused on using multi-modal —including eye tracking, log, and talk-aloud—data to enrich our understanding of problem-solving processes in the challenging video game Baba is You.

Chen’s research interests include computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and Virtual Reality-assisted (language) learning.

Ali Fulsher

Administrative Support
PhD Student, Department of Educational Psychology, Psych Foundations

Rina Miyata Harsch

PhD Student, Department of Educational Psychology, Psych Foundations

Ali is interested in improving science literacy in higher education. Currently, her research examines the influence of sourcing instructions and in-text citations for multi-text comprehension.

Megan is interested in the intersection of informal education design and learners’ unfolding experiences. Her research primarily focuses on learning in museum spaces, particularly makerspaces and exhibitions with minimal or no educator facilitation.

Rina is interested in how students learn and revise beliefs, and in particular the roles of source and explanation in these processes.

As a science teacher and researcher, Ryan has taken a special interest in research surrounding playful learning and productive failure. He aims to identify and embody teaching and learning practices that result in heightened motivation and promote meaningful learning that can apply directly to the classroom

Ashley is interested in using data to better understand how social and emotional processes shape how we think (particularly during moments of challenge) in naturalistic learning contexts. Her current line of research examines how teachers and parents help children collaboratively interpret and navigate their emotions. She wants to use this knowledge, in partnership with practitioners, to promote student engagement, resilience, and well-being. 

Basel’s research interests are in personalized learning and human-AI partnership. His current work focuses on using computational methods to investigate and support goal-based learning, problem-solving, and information-seeking behavior.

Victoria is interested in investigating the contexts of knowledge revision and the reduction of misinformation. She also studies effective science communication, with a focus on how perceptions of source credibility drive views of science and scientific information.

Jasmine is interested in how people comprehend and learn from texts, individually and in groups. Her research also focuses on how texts can be used to facilitate knowledge revision and transfer of knowledge.

Hong’s research interests lie in the online collaborative learning and the alignment between learning design and learning analytics. Her current research focuses on the design/development of scaffolding tools to facilitate social annotation activities.

Jesslyn’s research interests include the investigation of scientific reasoning skills, spatial reasoning skills, and problem solving processes. Her research examines ways in which these processes develop through engagement in play-based activities.

Xinran’s research interests include computer-supported collaborative learning, learning analytics, network analysis, and design based research. She’s also investigating the ways in which big data informs pedagogical decisions in terms of techniques and ethics