Research Spotlight: Seyedahmad Rahimi

Q & A with Seyedahmad Rahimi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

My research aims to answer questions such as “how can we assess and enhance hard-to-measure constructs such as creativity at scale using technology-rich environments (e.g., digital games)?” or “what aspects of technology-rich environments can foster or hinder learning?” or “how can we embed learning content in digital games without sacrificing the fun to enhance students’ interest, engagement, and learning?” The list could go on. In general, my research interest is at the intersection of learning sciences, learning analytics, instructional design and technologies, psychometrics, and computer sciences. Specifically, my research focuses on assessing and fostering students’ 21st-century skills (focusing on creativity) and STEM-related knowledge acquisition (focusing on physics understanding). Toward that end, I design, develop, and evaluate immersive learning environments (e.g., educational games) equipped with stealth assessment and educational data mining and learning analytics models. These learning environments can diagnostically assess students’ various competency levels, predict different outcomes, and act accordingly in real-time (e.g., adapt the game challenges to students’ level of competency or support students’ learning by triggering the appropriate learning supports). I am also actively researching various aspects of educational games (e.g., game mechanics, game difficulty, cognitive and affective supports, dashboard design, and incentive systems) and how they affect students’ motivation, performance, and learning.

What makes your work interesting?

When I think about my research, I see the following keywords in a cloud above my head: stealth assessment, validity, reliability, fairness, equity, games, technology, learning analytics, machine learning, improvement, learning, creativity, and STEM-related knowledge. I think the combination of these concepts makes my research interesting. I can categorize these keywords into three groups: (1) methods: stealth assessment, validity, reliability, fairness, equity, learning analytics, (2) tools: games, machine learning, technology, and (3) outcomes: creativity, learning, improving, STEM-related knowledge. Using new methods to develop tools (e.g., games) that can accurately assess and enhance people’s critical skills in life, such as creativity and STEM-related knowledge, makes my research interesting. When it comes to STEM-related knowledge acquisition, I am interested in helping the minority populations build interest in STEM-related topics which can help them in the future. For instance, in our previous studies (with my former advisor Dr. Valerie Shute), girls always had lower prior physics knowledge than boys. However, they had higher or equal posttest scores (after playing Physics Playground—an educational game) than boys—this is very interesting to me. When it comes to creativity (one of the essential skills moving human civilizations forward), I am interested in automatic and accurate ways of assessing creativity or creative potential. Most of the creativity assessments in the literature need human judgment, are time-consuming, costly, limited, and subjective. Using techniques such as stealth assessment and machine learning, I want to develop tools (e.g., video games) that can assess creativity without involving human judgment. These tools can then use the real-time diagnostic assessment to enhance people’s creativity as well. Creativity is not just reserved for a small group of people. We all can be creative. My goal is to create research-based tools available at scale to help more people become creative with practice—this is very interesting to me, which keeps me up at night.

What are you currently working on?

As a fresh assistant professor, I am currently setting up my research lab, Game-based Assessment & Measurement in Education Lab (GAME Lab), at the Institute for Advanced Learning Technologies (IALT) at UF. Read more

Summary of OER Faculty Survey May 7, 2021

Thank you to those who participated in the May 7, 2021 Office of Educational Research (OER) Faculty Survey. Below are some key highlights:

  • 25 faculty completed the survey (out of 108; ~23% response rate).
  • The top 3 services used are as follows: Preparing proposals, submitting proposals, attending trainings and events.
  • The majority of respondents submitted 1–3 proposals this academic year and are satisfied with OER services.
  • 62% feel OER services are equitably given; 38% disagreed.
  • 90% feel OER does not favor a particular demographic; 2% disagreed.

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U.S. ED and U.S. HHS Release American Rescue Plan Funds

Some federal agencies have begun distributing American Rescue Plan funds and will continue to release funds. The U.S. Department of Education (U.S. ED) has released more than $3 billion to states to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). View IDEA American Rescue Plan Funds. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. HHS) has announced the establishment of an $80 million Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program to strengthen U.S. public health informatics and data science. View the notice of funding opportunity deadline August 11, 2021. The U.S. HHS has also distributed $1 billion to Head Start programs nationwide.

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IES Offers On-Demand Webinars for FY 2022 Funding Opportunities Including New Program: Research to Accelerate Pandemic Recovery in Special Education (84.324X)

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has posted an on-demand webinar providing an overview of the new Research to Accelerate Pandemic Recovery in Special Education (84.324X) grants program (deadlines: August 2, 2021; September 9, 2021). The webinar is now available on the IES Webinar Series website. IES will be posting a series of on-demand webinars for those who are interested in Fiscal Year 2022 funding opportunities. These pre-recorded webinars are hosted by the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER).

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U.S. ED Invites Comments on Proposed Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs

The U.S. Department of Education (U.S. ED) has announced six proposed priorities for discretionary grant programs and invites comments on or before July 30, 2021. The proposed priorities are as follows:

  1. Addressing the impact of COVID-19 on students, educators, and faculty
  2. Promoting equity in student access to educational resources, opportunities, and welcoming environments
  3. Supporting a diverse educator workforce and professional growth to strengthen student learning
  4. Meeting student social, emotional, and academic needs
  5. Increasing postsecondary education access, affordability, completion, and post-enrollment success
  6. Strengthening cross-agency coordination and community engagement to advance systemic change

Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery.

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The White House OSTP Requests Information to Improve Federal Scientific Integrity

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has published a request for information to improve federal scientific integrity policies and invites comments on or before July 28, 2021. Respondents may provide information for one or as many topics below as they choose.

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From the IES Director: To Build a STEM Workforce, We Must Invest in Education Science

In an opinion article in the non-profit news site The 74, Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director Mark Schneider states that a bill Congress is considering to enhance the scientific competitiveness of the nation does not go far enough to establish the necessary educational foundation in STEM, especially for Black and Hispanic youth. The United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), recently passed by the Senate and now being considered in the House of Representatives, would expand the National Science Foundation to include a new Technology and Innovation Directorate. While USICA is a good start, Schneider says attention to applied education research is missing.

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IES Offers Virtual Office Hours for Grant Applicant Technical Assistance

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Research (NCER) and National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) are hosting virtual office hours to provide technical assistance for grant applicants. These sessions are open to the public and do not require pre-registration. Participants can ask questions and learn from the general discussion of topics such as – how IES funding opportunities work, general grant-writing tips, identifying your project type, and competition-specific discussions. These virtual office hours will take place between June 28 and August 4, and participants can attend as many as they would like.

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NSF Posts Spring 2021 Virtual Grants Conference Sessions

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has posted the conference sessions from the Spring 2021 NSF Virtual Grants Conference held June 7-11, 2021. All conference sessions were recorded and are now available on NSF’s Policy Office Outreach website. Additionally, you can view the recordings on the NSF Policy Office Outreach YouTube page.

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NSF Releases Pre-Award and Post-Award Disclosure Information for Proposals

In an effort to provide the community with helpful reference information regarding pre-award and post-award disclosure information in the biographical sketch and current and pending support proposal sections, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has developed a disclosure table titled, NSF Pre-award and Post-award Disclosures Relating to the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support, to identify where these disclosures must be provided in proposals as well as in project reports.

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UF Research Reminder: New State Requirements for Researchers and Universities

The State of Florida recently enacted a foreign influence law, HB7017, which imposes new requirements on the university and its researchers. This legislation, passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, seeks to identify and prevent undue foreign influence on Florida universities. Key provisions of the legislation include the following:

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UF Research Reminder: Disclosure Requirements for Current UF Employees

As a reminder, researchers must continue to adhere to university and federal requirements, particularly as they relate to international engagements regarding disclosing all outside activities to the university and other support to federal agencies per agency-specific instructions as follows:

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UF Research Reminder: NIH Requires All Financial and In-Kind Support to Be Disclosed in Other Support

Effective May 25, 2021, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requires that all financial and in-kind support for any research that UF key personnel perform whether that is performed as part of their UF appointment, an outside activity, as consulting, or as part of any other appointment or access they have, be disclosed in Other Support.

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Reminder: OER Offers Webinar July 12

As part of its 2021 seminar series, the Office of Educational Research (OER) will offer a webinar titled Notes from the Desk of a Grant Review Panelist featuring Patricia Snyder and Corinne Huggins-Manley sharing key insights regarding their role as proposal reviewers for federal agencies or other sponsors.

Monday, July 12, 2021
11:00 am
Join us via Zoom link

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Reminder: UF Research Offers 2021 Summer Seminar Series

UF Research Integrity, in collaboration with Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) on Campus, is once again hosting a summer seminar series on Research Integrity and RCR. Below is the 2021 list of seminars offered. If you are interested in signing-up for any (or all) seminars in the series, please complete the form on the registration page.

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