Alert Lab

Research, Grants, and Awards

Welcome to the Assessment of Learning and Transfer (ALERT) lab. Dr. Maria Cutumisu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, at the University of Alberta where she established her lab in 2015 in the area of Measurement, Evaluation, and Data Science. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Computing Science, Faculty of Science, University of Alberta. Her research draws on computing science and education and has been funded by tri-council PI grants and scholarships (NSERC DG, NSERC CGS-D, SSHRC IG, and SSHRC IDG). She graduated with an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in Computing Science from the Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta and she trained as a postdoctoral scholar in Learning Sciences at the Stanford Graduate School of Education's AAA Lab. Her research interests include feedback processing (SSHRC IDG), machine learning and educational data mining techniques for automated feedback generation (NSERC DG), game-based assessments that support learning and performance-based learning (SSHRC IG grants), computational thinking (CanCode Callysto grants, CCTt tests, and SSHRC IG), AI in games (e.g., reinforcement learning in computer role-playing games), serious games (e.g., the RETAIN game for neonatal resuscitation), and virtual character (i.e., agent) behaviours in interactive computer games with applications in education (NSERC CGS-D). She has employed learning analytics to investigate the impact of K-16 students’ choices (e.g., willingness to choose critical feedback from interactive virtual characters and to revise digital posters) on learning outcomes and mindset within an online game-based assessment environment to understand how prepared students are to learn and innovate. She uses psychophysiological techniques (e.g., eye-tracking, electrodermal activity wearables, and EEG) to provide a comprehensive understanding of students' learning and memory processes (SSHRC IDG, Killam). She is also affiliated with the Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation (CRAME), Centre for the Studies of Asphyxia and Resuscitation (CSAR), AI4Society, Centre for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (CMASTE), Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute (NMHI) at the University of Alberta, and Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI).

Selected P.I. Grants and Scholarships

  • Support for the Advancement of Scholarship (SAS), University of Alberta. Using machine learning to improve and transfer medical skills in healthcare education. Co-PI: Dr. Georg Schmölzer (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry). 2021-2022: $7,000. Local.

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada - Insight Grant (SSHRC IG). A Model of Computational Thinking for Deeper Learning. Co-PIs: Drs. Ying Cui, Jacqueline Leighton, and Mark Gierl. 2020-2025: $399,987. National.

  • Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant and Discovery Launch Supplement. An Adaptive Feedback System for Agent and Human Learning. 2019-2024. $152,500. National.

  • Killam Cornerstone Operating Grant. Error Processing, Learning, and Attention. In-Kind Funds ($2,200). 2018-2021, $46,295. Local.

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada - Insight Development Grant (SSHRC IDG). A Model of Memory for Critical Feedback. Collaborator: Dr. Daniel L. Schwartz (Stanford University). 2017-2019, $51,700. National.

  • Support for the Advancement of Scholarship (SAS), University of Alberta. Eye tracking students' feedback choices in an online assessment game. 2018 - 2019, $7,000. Local.

  • Centre for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (CMASTE) Faculty Member Funds, University of Alberta. Computational Thinking Assessments. Co-PI: Dr. Catherine Adams (Secondary Education, University of Alberta). 2018-2019, $5,000. Local.

  • Killam Cornerstone Small Operating Grant, University of Alberta. Developing and Evaluating a Game That Teaches a Computational Thinking Skill. 2016-2017, $7,000. Local.

  • TLEF-PD (Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund - Professional Development), University of Alberta. Hierarchical Linear Models Course, SREE, Carnegie Foundation, Stanford, CA. 2016: $5,000. Local.

  • SSHRC Insight Grant - Bridge Funding, University of Alberta. Exploring, Building, and Evaluating Virtual Environments that Support Computational Thinking. 2016, $5,000. Local.

  • Support for the Advancement of Scholarship (SAS), University of Alberta. Building Social Virtual Environments that Support Computational Thinking. 2016-2017, $6,000. Local.

  • Hewlett Grant - Postdoctoral Scholar. Stanford University. 2013-2015. Choice-based Assessments.

  • NSERC CGS-D2 & iCore. 2005 - 2007, $90,000. National.

  • Precarn Scholarship, Federal NCE. 2003 - 2008, $35,000. National.

Selected Co-P.I. Grants

  • ITESM - UAlberta Seed Grant Program (Artificial Intelligence and Education, Language and Culture). The role of affect in online higher education: A comparative study in Canada and Mexico. PIs: Carrie Demmans Epp (Computing Science); Genaro Rebolledo-Méndez (Institute for the Future of Education, ITESM: Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey). Co-PIs: Maria Cutumisu; Samira Hosseini (ITESM). Collaborator: Peter Brusilovsky (Professor, School of Computing and Information Science, University of Pittsburgh; Adjunct Faculty, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University). 2021-2022: $32,904. Local.

  • SSHRC Partnership Sub-Grant. Ensuring Full Literacy in a Multicultural and Digital World. Applicant: Dr. Carrie Demmans Epp (Computing Science); Collaborators: Julia Rivard (CEO, EyeSpeak, Canada); Genaro Rebolledo-Méndez (Institute for the Future of Education, ITESM: Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey); Maria Cutumisu; Samira Hosseini (ITESM). 2021-2022: $14,870. National.

  • CanCode Program: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Government of Canada. Callysto: Building Tomorrow’s Digital Leaders (Research Assessment). PI: Cybera Inc. Co-PIs: PIMS, Dr. Maria Cutumisu (Team Lead), Dr. Catherine Adams and Dr. Florence Glanfield (Secondary Education, University of Alberta). 2019 - 2021: $1,567,143 (our team's portion: $104,542). National.

  • SSHRC Insight Grant. Digital Performance-Based Learning and Assessment System for Teaching Data Literacy. PI: Dr. Ying Cui. Co-PIs: Dr. Jacqueline Leighton. Collaborator: Dr. Man-Wai Chu. 2019 - 2024: $298,689. National.

  • Alberta Education, Flexible Pathways to Writing Knowledge Transfer – Moving Research to Practice. PI: Dr. Veronica Smith (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta), Dr. Heather Brown (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). 2018 - 2019: $12,000. Local.

  • Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF), University of Alberta. Improving the Quality and Quantity of Feedback via Interactive Score Reporting. PI: Dr. Okan Bulut (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). 2018 - 2020: $62,521. Local.

  • CanCode Program: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Government of Canada. Callysto (Research Assessment). PI: David Chan (Cybera Inc.). Co-PIs: PIMS, Dr. Catherine Adams (Team Lead, Secondary Education, University of Alberta), Dr. Mike Carbonaro (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). 2018 - 2020: $1,497,143 (our team's portion: $94,563). National.

  • SSHRC Insight Development Grant (IDG). Modeling the Mathematical Achievement of Children with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. PI: Dr. Heather Brown (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). Co-PI: Dr. Daniel Ansari (The University of Western Ontario). Collaborators: Dr. Michele Searle (Queen's University), Dr. Veronica Smith (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). 2016-2018: $64,149. National.

  • Alberta Education. Flexible Pathways to Writing: Developing and Implementing Assistive Technology to Support Students' Academic Writing Skills in Inclusive Classrooms. PI: Dr. Veronica Smith (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). Co-PI: Dr. Heather Brown (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). 2016-2018: $119,500. Local.

  • Google CS4HS 2016 Academy. Computational Thinking for Computing Science Teachers Professional Development Training. PI: Harvey Duff (Computing Science, University of Alberta). Co-PIs: Dr. Catherine Adams (Secondary Education, University of Alberta), Dr. Ryan Hayward (Computing Science, University of Alberta), Dr. Paul Lu (Computing Science, University of Alberta), Dr. Cameron Macdonell (Computer Science, MacEwan University), Dr. Mike Carbonaro (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). 2016-2017: USD 30,600. International.

  • Support for the Advancement of Scholarship (SAS), University of Alberta. Examining Achievement Emotions Across Test-taking Environments: Does Environment Influence Affect? PI: Dr. Jason Harley (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). Co-PIs: Dr. Lia Daniels, Dr. Jacqueline Leighton, Dr. Mark Gierl (Educational Psychology, University of Alberta). 2016-2017: $6,974. Local.

Selected Awards

  • Graduate Student Association (GSA) Graduate Supervision Award, University of Alberta, February 16, 2021. Local.

  • Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Student Researcher - Faculty Award, University of Alberta, 2021. Local.

  • Mitacs Globalink Research Internship - Faculty, 2021. National.

  • Silver Medal Award for the RETAIN tabletop game, Serious Play Conference, 2020. https://www.seriousplayconf.com/oct-20-2020-eleven-learning-games-win-2020-tabletop-game-competition.

  • Outstanding Presentation Award. Show and Tell: A student research celebration at the Chancellor and Senate of the University of Alberta, Faculty of Education, 2019. Local.

  • Coutts-Clarke Research Fellowship. 2019-2020. $10,000. Local.

  • Outstanding Project Award and 1st-Place Presentation Award. Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting. 2019. International.

  • Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Student Researcher - Faculty Award, University of Alberta, 2019. Local.

  • Mitacs Globalink Research Internship - Faculty, 2019. National.

  • University of Alberta Compliments - Dear Prof Event, Teaching recognition from a student organization, 2018. Local.

  • Mitacs Globalink Research Internship - Faculty, 2018. National.

  • Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Student Researcher - Faculty Award, University of Alberta, 2018. Local.

  • Mitacs Globalink Research Internship - Faculty, 2017. National.

  • Best Paper Award. International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (CELDA). 2017. International.

  • Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Student Researcher - Faculty Award, University of Alberta, 2016. Local.

  • WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science & Technology) Supervisor, 2016. Local.

  • HIP (High-school Internship Program) Supervisor, 2016. Local.

  • Best Extended Abstract. London International Conference on Education. 2016. International.

  • Best Paper in DEED (Design in Engineering Education Division) Finalist, $50 USD. American Society for Engineering Education Conference (ASEE). 2015. International.

  • Best Paper Award. International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (CELDA). 2014. International.

  • Outstanding Research PhD Achievement Award, Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta, 2009. Local.

  • Dissertation Fellowship, University of Alberta, 2007 - 2008, $22,000. Local.

  • Graduate Outreach Award, Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta, 2007. Local.

  • Honorary Walter H. Johns Graduate Fellowship, University of Alberta, 2005-2007. National.

  • Best Paper Award, GameOn North America Conference, 2006. International.

  • Best Poster Award, NSERC iCore Summit 2005. National.