The Team


Val Shute (NSF & IES)
I’m the PI of this research team.  I care deeply about educational reform and can imagine a future in education with no tests, but with good support of valuable outcomes (e.g., creativity, problem-solving, and empathy), for all. Some of my other passions include being a good mom and grandma, playing games (Portal 2 and Little Big Planet are among my favorites), swimming, reading (I recently read 1984; Seveneves, and Devil in the White City), belly laughing, and traveling. Academically speaking, I am the Mack & Effie Campbell Tyner Endowed Professor in Education in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at Florida State University. Before coming to FSU in 2007, I was a principal research scientist at Educational Testing Service. My general research interests hover around the design, development, and evaluation of advanced systems to support learning–particularly related to 21st-century competencies. Current research involves using games with stealth assessment to support learning—of cognitive and noncognitive knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Happily, my research has resulted in numerous grants, journal articles, books, chapters in edited books, a patent, and a couple of recent books (e.g., Shute & Ventura, 2013, Measuring and supporting learning in games: Stealth assessment, The MIT Press; and Shute & Becker, 2010, Innovative assessment for the 21st century: Supporting educational needs, Springer-Verlag).  For more info, see


Russell Almond (NSF)

I’m an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Design, College of Education, Florida State University. I received my undergraduate degree from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1983 and Ph.D. in Statistics from Harvard University in 1990. Before coming to FSU, I spent 14 years as a Research Scientist at Educational Testing Service. My main research interests focus around of the question of how to gather, track and monitor evidence of student growth using both traditional sources (e.g., assessments and homework) and non-traditional sources (e.g., simulations and games), especially in situations where multiple dimensions of student proficiency are considered. Together with R. Mislevy and L. Steinberg, I created Evidence Centered Design (ECD)—a process for designing assessments based on explicating the underlying evidentiary arguments that support their claims. So I’m a statistician with extensive training in computer science, particularly artificial intelligence. My research interests include representations of uncertainty in artificial intelligence (in particular, Bayesian networks and partially observed Markov decision processes, POMDPs), use of artificial intelligence techniques in data analysis, human factor design for data analysis and education, Bayesian computation, and statistical model engineering. I’ve been the lead designer and programmer on a number of software systems including: StatShop, RNetica, CPTtool, and BELIEF.


Fengfeng Ke (NSF)

I’m also an Associate Professor of the Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at Florida State University. My current research focuses on digital game-based learning systems, inclusive design of computer-supported collaborative learning, and mixed-reality-integrated immersive learning. My research has been funded by National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation. More information on my research and publication can be found at:


Sidney D’Mello (IES)
Sidney D’Mello (Ph.D. in Computer Science) is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Cognitive Science and Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is interested in the dynamic interplay between cognition and emotion while individuals and groups engage in complex real-world tasks. He applies insights gleaned from this basic research program to develop intelligent technologies that help people achieve to their fullest potential by coordinating what they think and feel with what they know and do. D’Mello has co-edited six books and published over 220 journal papers, book chapters, and conference proceedings (13 of these have received awards). His work has been funded by numerous grants and he serves(d) as associate editor for four journals, on the editorial boards for six others, and has played leadership roles in several professional organizations.


Ryan Baker (IES)
I am tenured Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. I direct the Penn Center for Learning Analytics. My research is at the intersection of Educational Data Mining and Human-Computer Interaction. I develop and use methods for mining the data that comes out of the interactions between students and educational software, in order to better understand how students respond to educational software, and how these responses impact their learning. I study these issues within intelligent tutors, simulations, MOOCs/online courses, and educational games. I study these issues in the context of K-12 formal and informal learning, higher education, the military, and lifelong learning.

Adam Lamee (NSF)

I’m one of the physics content experts on the project. Improving education for all students is a driving force in my life. I think the best way to do that is by helping classroom teachers learn from each other. I taught high school Physics in Tallahassee for 12 years before becoming the PhysTEC Teacher-in-Residence at the University of Central Florida. Along the way, I’ve been a Quarknet Teaching and Learning Fellow, contributed to Florida’s science standards and teacher certification exams, worked on the CERN’s CMS experiment, and has researched game-based assessment and performance assessment alternatives to large-scale testing. I recently co-authored Argument-Driven Inquiry in Physics, vol 1 from NSTA Press. You can learn more about my work at

Seyed Ahmad Rahimi (NSF & IES)

I am from Iran. I am a postdoctoral researcher at Florida State University in the Instructional Systems & Learning Technologies program. I am working with Dr. Shute on several research projects. I became the primary developer of  Physics Playground since December 2017. I moved to the U.S. in Spring 2014 with my wife–Maedeh. I love research, teaching, photography, walking in nature, playing fun video games, exercising, and I really like to read things related to self-enrichment and success. My general research interests include assessing and fostering 21st-century competencies (e.g., creativity) in learning games and virtual reality environments equip with game-based Stealth Assessment and adaptivity

Chen Sun (NSF)

I am currently a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology and Learning Systems Program at Florida State University. I am interested in research related to engaging students in learning using games. I’m also interested in designing assessments to measure students’ knowledge and skills, especially relative to hard-to-measure constructs. I have been working on a number of fun research projects with my advisor, Dr. Shute. Besides research, I love Formula 1. I love to stare at the statistics about the racing, enjoying the engine sound and the tension of the competition. I also love traveling and dream of traveling around the world. To relax, I listen to music, exercise, and play Rubik’s cube. I was a middle school teacher in China for three years. Then I came here, hoping that I will make some difference in education, especially in assessment. Learning and assessment are integral. A fair and comprehensive assessment should open up opportunities for all children.

Ginny Smith (NSF)

I am a research assistant and Ph.D. student in Instructional Systems and Learning Technology at Florida State University. Before embarking on my Ph.D., I developed the secondary math program at a nationally recognized charter school and was the lead secondary math teacher for the school. I believe that math is power and desire to encourage learners to discover for themselves the wonder and excitement I have found in the STEM fields. My research interests center around the design, development, and evaluation of interactive learning technologies in secondary education. Spending time with my family is what I enjoy most. As the mom of a toddler, there is never a dull moment. I also enjoy games of all sorts, from board games to digital games to a newly found love of escape/breakout games. I have played sports (basketball, volleyball, and softball) most of my life and enjoy keeping up with the women’s collegiate and professional basketball leagues. I love most foods, but I often joke that I could not survive without my coffee and dark chocolate.
Stefan Slater (IES)
I’m a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, working with Dr. Baker at the Penn Center for Learning Analytics. Before my PhD at Penn, I obtained a Masters in Learning Analytics from Columbia University – Teachers College and a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. While in Madison, I also worked as a research supervisor and outreach coordinator at the Games+Learning+Society Center, with Drs. Kurt Squire, Constance Steinkuehler, and Matthew Berland. I have a deep interest in data of all shapes and sizes, and am continually trying to find ways to weave together my interests in video games and academics. You can find some of my published works at, or find me on Twitter @datarefinery.
Katie Bainbridge (IES)
I’m a postdoctoral researcher at CU Boulder working with Dr. D’Mello. I received my PhD from UC Santa Barbara in Psychological and Brain Sciences. I studied under Dr. Richard Mayer. My broad academic interests include Cognitive Psychology, Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences. My specific academic interests include multimedia learning, motivation in learning, variety in learning, intelligence, and cognitive training.
Chih-Pu Dai (NSF)
I am currently a doctoral student in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies at Florida State University. Prior to my Ph.D. study at FSU in 2018, I taught Chinese to speakers of other languages in Burkina Faso, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Thailand for a total of seven years. I am keenly interested in the research areas of game-based learning and VR/ AR-integrated learning environments. In addition to research, you can find me working out or watching ball games on campus. I also enjoy traveling. My favorite foods are stinky tofu and oyster/ braised intestine vermicelli.
Renata Kuba (IES)
I am a doctoral candidate in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies at Florida State University. My research interests include game-based learning, immersive environments, UX/UI, visual design, and STEM education. I am also a UX/UI designer and lover of creative technologies. In 2009, I founded Kuba Design, a digital agency, where I have since developed wide-ranging designs for agencies, e-learning, and editorial brands. In 2014, I moved to New York to pursue a Master’s in Interactive Media at NYU, and now I am based in Tallahassee, working toward my Ph.D. in Educational Technologies at FSU. My work is exceptionally diverse, ranging from branding to instructional products. Whenever I have time, I like to create personal projects, and I feel that my career is deep-rooted within me because I do nothing without a touch of creativity. Design is more than my profession; it is my main hobby!
Xiaotong Yang (NSF)
I am Xiaotong Yang, a research assistant and doctoral student at Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies at Florida State University. Before this program, I studied at Syracuse University as a visiting scholar working in a research project on a meta-analysis of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). I obtained my master degree from South China Normal University. From where I was involved in K-12 instructional design projects in the technology-integrated learning environment as well as design and development of online courses about teachers’ professional development. Now my research interest is the design and application of video games to facilitate engaged and effective learning. In my spare time, table tennis is my favorite activity. I join the FSU table tennis team and play three times a week.


At Work

At Play

Summer Camp 2020