About Us

This project is a united effort by multiple academic organizations that seeks to explore the potential for precision education to revolutionize teaching and learning.  The team approaches programming for online educational environments in new and innovative ways, with the ultimate goal of improving achievement for all students. 

The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305C160004 to the University of Florida. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. 

Project Leaders

Walter Leite, Ph.D.

Walter Leite, Ph.D.

Professor, UF College of Education
Principal Investigator

Philip Poekert, Ph.D.

Philip Poekert, Ph.D.

Project Director, Lastinger Center for UF
Co-Principal Investigator

Danielle McNamara, Ph.D.

Danielle McNamara, Ph.D.

Director of SoLET Lab, ASU
Co-Principal Investigator

Corinne Huggins-Manley, Ph.D.

Corinne Huggins-Manley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, UF College of Education
Co-Principal Investigator

George Michailidis, Ph.D.

George Michailidis, Ph.D.

Director of the Informatics Institute, UF
Co-Principal Investigator

Sidney D'Mello, Ph.D.

Sidney D'Mello, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, UC Boulder
Co-Principal Investigator

Catherine Cavanaugh, Ph.D.

Catherine Cavanaugh, Ph.D.

Research Scientist and Chief Technology Officer, Lastinger Center for Learning
Key Collaborator

Wanli Zing, Ph.D.

Wanli Zing, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, UF
Key Collaborator

Thomasenia Adams, Ph.D.

Thomasenia Adams, Ph.D.

Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development
Key Collaborator

Jinnie Shin, Ph.D.

Jinnie Shin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, UF
Key Collaborator

Carole Beal, Ph.D.

Carole Beal, Ph.D.

Founder
In Memoriam

Partners

Study Edge

Study Edge, a Gainesville-based educational technology company, first partnered with the Lastinger Center for Learning to create Algebra Nation, a free online learning platform that has increased student mastery in Algebra 1. Study Edge is now partnering with the VLL team as they test, modify and create a more effective learning environment for students.

Michael Wear Lucho Hristov
Project Manager Senior Programmer
mike@studyedge.com lucho@studyedge.com

UF College of Education and The Lastinger Center for Learning

The University of Florida’s College of Education is a consistent authority in regards to innovative education and student success. Annually ranked as one of the top colleges of education in the US, the UF College of Education brings its high-standard and tradition of excellence to this project.

The Lastinger Center for Learning is an innovation hub working to create equitable educational systems where every child and educator, regardless of circumstances, experiences high quality learning every day to support the achievement of critical milestones in children’s trajectory through school that are predictive of success in life. 

Together these organizations provide project management and communications support, as well as determining the impact of Algebra Nation on student achievement and then developing a more personalized assessment system based on questions that are most closely aligned with success on the end-of-course exam. The College of Education in particular works on a multitude of projects that will contribute to the Virtual Learning Lab.

UF Informatics Institute

The pervasiveness of interconnectivity on our persons and in our homes, the capabilities of high-performance computers, the emergence of smart infrastructure, and the Internet of “everything” is changing the way we do research in nearly every field of study.

Established in 2014, the UF Informatics Institute focuses on the development and nurturing of integrative informatics research and education studies at the University of Florida. One of its core areas is to leverage the explosion of data in the social sciences to better understand people, culture, political development, education, and human behavior. UF Informatics will oversee the development of recommendation systems for personalized learning.

University of Colorado at Boulder

The University of Colorado at Boulder team is focused on understanding students’ engagement as they interact with Algebra Nation, developing real-time computational models of engagement, and integrating the models into Algebra Nation to trigger adaptive interventions aimed at increasing engagement and learning. The Institute of Cognitive Sciences within University of Colorado at Boulder fosters rich scientific interchange across researchers from a broad range of disciplines including Artificial Intelligence, Linguistics, Psychology, Neuroscience, Computer Science, Philosophy, and Education.

Arizona State University

The ASU team will be joining the project for a supplemental study investigating the potential of supplemental human tutoring to improve outcomes for failing students. The Science of Learning and Educational Technology Lab (SoLET Lab) at ASU focuses on applying research from computer science, education, and psychology in educational environments. The lab aims to further the understanding of cognitive processes and to use this theoretical foundation to improve educational methods.

Interested in joining our team?

Advisory Boards

The VLL will benefit from guidance provided by two Advisory Boards: one will focus on the research activities, and the second on supporting the Lab’s national policy and outreach efforts. 
The Research Advisory Board members have been selected for their expertise with issues related to low-achieving students, professional development and measurement. 

Marta Civil

Professor and holder of the Roy F. Graesser Chair in Mathematics at The University of Arizona. Her research focuses on issues of equity in mathematics education, including teacher preparation for supporting learning in language-minority students, and culturally-responsive pedagogy for Latino/a students in math learning.  She directed the NSF-funded Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as, and additional NSF-and OERI-supported projects focusing on improving access to high-quality mathematics education for language-minority students. 

Barbara Dougherty

Director of the Curriculum Research & Development Group in the College of Education for the University of Hawai’i and former Roger G. Miller Endowed Chair in Mathematics Education in the College of Education at the University of Missouri. With IES support, she is developing assessments that support the progress monitoring system for learners in algebra, with a specific focus on struggling learners. She also works extensively on professional development for mathematics teachers, and has developed well-reviewed tablet-based software (“Algebra in Action”) for algebra instruction.

Ron Eglash

Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His NSF-supported work on culturally-situated design tools for under-served students has led to honors such as an appearance as a TED speaker, the 2009 American Anthropological Association award for “Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship,” a listing among the 2004 winners of the “101 Best Websites in the World” from the International Society for Technology in Education, a 2001 “Integrating anthropology into schools” award from the Anthropology Education Commission, and a Fulbright scholarship.

Randy Penfield

Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Research Methodology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Dr. Penfield has published widely in educational measurement journals and serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Educational Measurement, Educational and Psychological Measurement, Applied Measurement in Education, and The Elementary School Journal. He has served as co-principal investigator or consultant on a number of federal grants funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education. 

Michelle Perry

Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Her research focuses on the impact of context, including factors such as classroom discourse, school climate and stereotype threat on students’ mathematical reasoning. She has also studied mathematics learning from a cross-cultural perspective. 

The members of the National Outreach Advisory Board have been selected for their expertise with issues and policies related to virtual learning environments, including student privacy issues, and for their assistance with the national expansion of Algebra Nation as a research platform for investigations into precision education.

Avron Barr

Industry professional who specializes in the use of technology to transform education and training. Mr. Barr did early research on intelligent tutoring systems at Stanford University, served as an adviser to the DARPA DARWARS project on immersive training systems, and subsequently served as Director for SCORM Strategy at the U.S. Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative. He is a strong proponent of open software standards to support an era of rapid evolution in educational technology. Mr. Barr currently serves as Chair of the IEEE’s Learning Technology Standards Committee and is also an advisor to the NSF’s Cyberlearning program. 

Nikola Filby

Director of REL-West, serving California, Nevada Arizona and Utah, and including projects on algebra re-takers and on accelerating math achievement for struggling students, including English Language learners. She directs the Innovation Studies program at WestEd, an initiative to help educators learn about and implement promising ideas from research and practice, and is launching Doing What Works, a website that will build upon research reviews by the Institute of Education Sciences to help educators not only understand but do what works in education. She will work with the Lab to support collaborations in the Western states.

Barbara Foorman

Francis Eppes Professor of Education, Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research, Director of REL Southeast at Florida State University, and former Commissioner of the National Center for Education Research. Dr. Foorman will work with the Lab to identify collaborative projects focusing on personalization in online learning, and with expanding Algebra Nation into the Southeast. 

Anthony G. Picciano

Professor and Executive Officer in the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In 1998, Dr. Picciano co-founded CUNY Online, a multi-million dollar initiative funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that provides support services to faculty using the Internet for course development. He has published numerous research articles, books and reviews on the benefits and concerns related to online learning, and will provide guidance to the VLL with regard to student privacy and data “profiling” issues.