Education innovators join the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Four of Arizona State University’s leading education innovators have joined the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering to help deepen the schools’ commitment to cutting-edge engineering education.

“We are building a community of faculty who are intensely engaged in advancing the ways we educate engineering students,” says James Collefello, associate dean of Academic and Student Affairs. “These four will strengthen that core group and bolster the educational research aspect of our mission.”

Robert Atkinson and Brian Nelson, associate professors of educational technology, have joined the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision System Engineering.

Professor of mathematics education James Middleton and assistant professor of engineering education Tirupalavanam Ganesh have joined the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.

They will provide significant expertise in learning methods, cognitive theory and best teaching practices, Collofello says, as well as contribute to curriculum development and instruction planning.

Robert Atkinson’s research explores the intersection of cognitive science, informatics, instructional design and educational technology. His scholarship involves the design of instructional material according to our understanding of human cognitive architecture and how to leverage its unique constraints and affordances. His current research focus is on the study of engagement and flow in games.

“My current research foci include personalized learning, social media, mobile learning, and learner analytics. My team is exploring the use of unobtrusive sensors including neurosignal wireless headsets to monitor users’ state-changes in engagement and frustration while interacting with a game or other computer-based environment. We are also interested in learner analytics, particularly the application of sophisticated statistical techniques traditionally used in other disciplines such as industrial engineering to the task of building online learning environments able to adjust content and levels of support in real-time,” he says.

Atkinson is the principal investigator for a project supported by a Navy research grant for the evaluation of interactive tutoring systems and game-based environments on learning and engagement. He is also the co-principal investigator for a project funded by an NSF grant for the development and evaluation of interactive, multimodal Web-based environments that provide resilience training for women pursuing doctoral degrees in STEM fields. Atkinson earned his Ph.D. in applied cognitive science from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a minor in statistics and research design in 1999, and has been at ASU since 2002.

Brian Nelson’s research involves theory, design and implementation of computer-based learning environments, focusing on immersive educational games. He has published and presented extensively on the viability of educational virtual environments for situated inquiry learning and assessment. Nelson was recently co-principal investigator on two projects supported by MacArthur Foundation grants: 21st Century Assessment, investigating new models for assessment in digital media-based learning environments, and Our Courts, creating and assessing an immersive game to promote civic engagement.

Nelson was the project designer on the River City Virtual World project through two NSF-funded studies, and is a co-principal investigator on the on-going NSF-funded SAVE  Science and SURGE studies.

“The primary focus of my research is centered on the development and analysis of design models to support student knowledge building and reflection within immersive learning environments—especially educational games. Success in the use of immersive games for education depends on developing a clearer understanding of the nature of student interactions within the game environments, and of the design of the environments themselves from a theoretical perspective. It is critical, therefore, to develop and assess design models to provide better support for students in learning through educational games,” Nelson says.

Nelson earned a doctorate in education from Harvard University in 2005.

Yalin WangYalin Wang received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from University of Washington in 2002. Before joining ASU in August 2010, he was a founding member and key investigator at the UCLA Center for Computational Biology. Between 2004 and 2008, he was a cofounder and the CTO of Geometric Informatics, Inc., a NIST Advanced Technology Program Award recipient.

His research has focused on applying modern geometry knowledge to solve practical computer vision and medical imaging problems. His research interests include population-based brain mapping, cognitive science and 3D shape analysis. He has published over 90 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers.

“As a fast growing university, ASU provides me the best environment to tackle challenging research problems. The knowledgeable and inspiring colleagues help me to prioritize my work and focus on the most important tasks. ASU will help me to succeed in my career development,” Wang says.

Ross MaciejewskiRoss Maciejewski received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue University in December 2009. Prior to his current position as an assistant professor at Arizona State University, he served as a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University and worked at the Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence for Command Control and Interoperability in the Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments (VACCINE) group.

His research has focused on creating tools and techniques for the visual exploration of large, complex data sets. Past and ongoing projects include the analysis and visualization of syndromic surveillance, crime, and point-of-sale business data. His research interests are geovisualization, visual analytics and non-photorealistic rendering.

“I chose ASU because of the opportunities to do interdisciplinary work. My research has focused on ways to analyze and explore a variety of different data types, and one of the key components of such research is working with end-users from a variety of backgrounds. ASU provides a wonderful environment for this type of research and I am looking forward to contributing here,” says Maciejewski.