LRDC Accolades


Litman, Matsumura, Correnti Awardees in Learning Engineering Tools Competition

June 28, 2022

A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center- Diane Litman, Professor, School of Computer Science, Lindsay Clare Matsumura, Professor, Learning Sciences and Policy Program, School of Education, and Richard Correnti, Associate Professor, School of Education — were among 30 awardees of the Tools Competition Catalyst Prize. The team received this award for their project utomated Assessment of Classroom Discussion Quality, a web-based app to advance learning science research.

Automated Assessment of Classroom Discussion Quality will create a web-based application that uses natural language processing and machine learning methods to analyze classroom discussion quality at scale. Discussion quality measures will look at both teacher and student talk moves, will be fine-grained enough to test theory-driven hypotheses around the role of talk and learning, and will facilitate longitudinal studies to better understand trajectories of growth toward ambitious and equitable teaching practices.

"By leveraging key advances in computation, this group of winners will help solve some of our nation's biggest education problems," said Kumar Garg, the Vice President of Partnerships at Schmidt Futures. "It is energizing to work with organizations, which have the potential to dramatically improve outcomes for so many students at scale."

Supported by The Learning Agency and Georgia State University, this is the second year of the Learning Engineering Tools Competition. The winning teams will share insights from their work with external researchers to facilitate experimentation to improve learner outcomes and better understand student learning.


Ming-Te Wang, Psychology and Education, and James Huguley, School of Social Work, Receive $4 Million Grant from the U.S. Department of Education for Just Discipline Project

February 28, 2022

Ming-Te Wang and James Huguley

Ming-Te Wang, Professor of Psychology and Education and LRDC Senior Scientist, and James Huguley, Associate Dean, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Associate Professor, School of Social Work. Wang and Huguley were awarded $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for their project "Just Discipline Project: Reducing Racial Disparities and Promoting School Climate." Read more about this work on the LRDC website.

The Just Discipline Project is a research-to-practice initiative designed to advance achievement for all students by implementing and evaluating school-based relational climate and restorative practice programs. This project will serve close to 3,200 public school students of color and historically under-served middle school students.

The Just Discipline Project model focuses on infusing school-wide restorative practices with socio-emotional learning approaches. The aim of this project is to improve students' academic achievement by fostering socio-emotional competencies, reducing racial disparities in school disciplinary practices, and creating a fair, inclusive school climate in participating schools. This is a multi-year, multi-phase project that will pilot the program in both Cleveland and Greater Pittsburgh during 2022-2023. It will then conduct a multi-site cluster randomized trial in years 2 and 3 in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.


Brian Galla, Education, Timothy Nokes-Malach, Psycholgy, and Melanie Good, Physics and Astronomy, awarded National Science Foundation grant

October 20, 2021

Brian Galla, Timothy Nokes-Malach, and Melanie Good were awarded a National Science Foundation grant for their project "Collaborative Research: Investigating the Impact of Mindfulness Training to Mitigate Psychological Threat and Enhance Engagement and Learning to Undergraduate Introductory Physics." Galla, Associate Professor in the School of Education and a Research Scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), is the principal investigator (PI) and Nokes-Malach, Professor in the Department of Psychology and Research Scientist at the LRDC, and Good, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will be serving as the co-principal investigators. In a series of randomized field experiments involving undergraduates enrolled in introductory physics courses, Galla, Nokes-Malach, and Good will test the hypothesis that a brief mindfulness training program can help students make more adaptive stress appraisals, thereby mitigating psychological threat and boosting engagement.


Professor and Learning Research & Development Center (LRDC) Scientist Garners Two Research Excellence Awards

March 5, 2021

MingTe Wang

Ming-Te Wang, Professor of Psychology and Education, and Research Scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center has been awarded the "Distinguished Research Award for Human Development & Learning" from the American Educational Research Association (AERA). The award recognizes scholars who strive to improve the educational process through scholarly inquiry and dissemination of research results. Wang received the award for a series of three meta-analytic articles on parental ethnic-racial socialization and youth of color's developmental outcomes.

Wang is also the recipient of the 2021 Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) "Excellence in Research Award." The SSWR award recognizes social work research that advances knowledge with direct applications to practice, policy, and the resolution of social problems. The award was granted for Wang's publication "Parental Ethnic-Racial Socialization Practices and the Construction of Children of Color's Ethnic-Racial Identity: A Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis." Access a list of Wang's recent publications.

Wang's research on racialized experiences of children of color has also been recently recognized by a Heinz Endowment grant. In this work, Wang, with co-Principal Investigator James Huguley, Interim Director of the Center on Race and Social Problems and assistant professor, School of Social Work, received a $500,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments. The Heinz grant will support continued work on a school discipline program Wang and Huguley have implemented in the Woodland Hills School District, the "Just Discipline" project. "Just Discipline" builds on research on racialized experiences in school contexts and leverages that scholarship to implement a contextually tailored school discipline and climate program. This is the third consecutive grant that Wang and Huguley have received from The Heinz Endowments, totaling $1 million dollars. Wang and Huguley will work in collaboration with the Pitt School of Social Work's Center on Race and Social Problems, the School of Education's Motivation Center, and the Woodland Hills School District in this research-to-practice partnership.


Eben Witherspoon (EDUC '19G) Wins Outstanding Doctoral Research Award

March 4, 2021

Eben Witherspoon

Pitt alum Eben B. Witherspoon, currently a Researcher in Education and Instruction at the prestigious American Institutes for Research (AIR), received the NARST 2021 Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. Witherspoon completed his PhD in the School of Education, Learning Sciences and Policy Program (LSAP), in 2019. Witherspoon was also a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) working under the mentorship of Professor of Psychology Christian Schunn.

NARST is a global organization dedicated to improving science teaching and learning through research. Since its inception in 1928, NARST has promoted research in science education and the communication of knowledge generated by the research. The ultimate goal of NARST is to help all learners achieve science literacy. The Outstanding Doctoral Research Award was established in 1992 and is given annually for the Doctoral Dissertation judged to have the greatest merit and significance in the field of Science Education.

Witherspoon's dissertation, "Localizing and Understanding Mechanisms Of Gender Differences Within Pathways Towards And Away From Science Degrees," was also named the Outstanding Alumni Dissertation awarded by the Pitts's School of Education in 2020.

Witherspoon joins two other Pitt doctoral candidates and LRDC scholars as recipients of the NARST Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. In 2017, Anita Schuchardt, (PhD, Psychology, 2016) was a NARST awardee. Schuchardt is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota specializing in mathematical modeling, computational modeling, and biology education. In 2011, Catherine Eberbach, (PhD, Education, 2009) was granted the NARST award. Today, Eberbach advances informal STEM learning as a Program Director in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) at the National Science Foundation.

Read the March 4, 2021 PittWire accolade


LRDC Professors Awarded National Science Foundation Grant for Project on Public Access to Justice

February 24, 2021

Professors Kevin Ashley (Law) and Diane Litman (Computer Science), were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) award, FAI: Using AI to Increase Fairness by Improving Access to Justice. Part of the NSF Fairness in Artificial Intelligence (FAI), their project works to improve public access to justice. Ashley and Litman are also professors in the Intelligent Systems Program and Senior Scientists at the Learning Research & Development Center (LRDC).

Ashley and Litman's project applies Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase social fairness by developing two tools to make legal sources more understandable. They will create two tools: Statutory Term Interpretation Support (STATIS) and Case Argument Summarization (CASUM). STATIS is an AI-based legal information retrieval tool that will help users understand and interpret statutory terms. CASUM summarizes case decisions in terms of legal argument triples: the major issues a court addressed in the case, the court's conclusion with respect to each issue, and the court's reasons for reaching the conclusion.

Read the February 24, 2021 Pittwire Accolade


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