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Learning Designer | Researcher

Ph.D. Candidate
Learning Sciences and Technologies,
University of Pennsylvania

︎: Email
︎: Twitter
︎: Google Scholar

📣 Recent updates:
  • I will attend CSCW 2023 in Minneapolis in this October. I’ll present the design of The Synthesis Lab for supporting higher-order thinking in collaborative learning. [︎preprint]
  • I will attend ISLS 2023 in Montreal this summer,  where I will present our latest research on the development of an analytical framework for collaborative discourse. [︎preprint]

Xinran Zhu 

I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the Learning Sciences and Technologies at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m working as a research fellow at the Penn Wonder Lab led by my advisor Dr. Bodong Chen. Prior to this, I received a M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut.

My research interests lie at the intersection of Learning Technologies, Learning Sciences, Learning Analytics, and Human-Computer Interaction. Grounded in strong research-practice partnerships,  I design pedagogical, technological, and analytical innovations to support and evaluate computer-supported collaborative learning in authentic settings. By integrating media design, software engineering, and data science methods, I seek to advance infrastructures for learning which harness the full potential of emerging technologies while integrating them with evidence-based pedagogical strategies.

My research program follows two main avenues: (1) Designing pedagogical and technological innovations for computer-supported collaborative learning, and (2) Conducting computational research and developing learning analytics applications to derive actionable insights for education practice.

My current projects investigate:

  • How can we engage college students in online discussions via social annotation activities? How can we encourage deeper thinking and social interaction in their work? Example work:
- Zhu, X., Shui, H., & Chen, B. (2023). Beyond reading together: Facilitating knowledge construction through participation roles and social annotation in college classrooms. The Internet and Higher Education, 100919. #pedagogical_design
- Zhu, X., Chen, B., Avadhanam, R., Shui, H., & Zhang, R. (2020). Reading and connecting: Using social annotation in online classes. Information and Learning Sciences, 121(5/6), 261-271. #literature_review

  • How we can support the continuous refinement and evolution of student-created artifacts in online discussion activities into higher-level knowledge practices? Example work:
- Zhu, X., Shui, H., & Chen, B. (2023). The Synthesis Lab: Empowering collaborative learning in higher education through knowledge synthesis. Proceedings of Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW’23 Companion) (pp. 245-248). #technological_design  #HCI

  • How to capture the dynamic and emergent nature of collaborative discourse? Example work: 
Zhu, X., & Chen, B. (2023). Understanding idea creation in collaborative discourse through networks: The Joint Attention-Interaction-Creation (AIC) framework. Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning - CSCL 2023 (pp. 155-162). #analytical_design  #natural_language_processing  #network_analysis
- Chen, B., Zhu, X., & Shui, H. (2022). Socio-semantic network motifs framework for discourse analysis. Proceedings of the 12th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference - LAK 2022 (pp. 500-506). #analytical_design  #network_analysis

  • How can AI augment the process of knowledge creation/building within collaborative learning environments? How to capture the dynamic and emergent nature of collaborative discourse? Example work:
Chen, B., Zhu, X., & del Castillo, F. D. (2023). Integrating generative AI in knowledge building. Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 100184. #pedagogical_design  #AI

Professional experiences:

    • Teaching Assistant | Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
    • Instructional Designer | College of Design, University of Minnesota
    • Graduate Instructor | College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota

When I have no idea about my data and/or writing, I do:
    • Road trips
    • Amateur filmmaking
    • Photography