The Learner Data Institute

Harnessing The Data Revolution To Make The Learning Ecosystem More Effective, Engaging, Equitable, Efficient, Relevant, and Affordable

Lead Principal Investigator: Dr. Vasile Rus (

The Learner Data Institute (LDI) is funded by the National Science Foundation (Award #1934745).

Overview of The Learner Data Institute

The paper below provides an overview of The Learner Data Institute.

Rus, V., Fancsali, S.E., Bowman, D., Pavlik Jr., P., Ritter, S., Venugopal, D., Morrison, D., and The LDI Team. (2020). The Learner Data Institute: Mission, Framework, & Activities. In V. Rus & S.E. Fancsali (Eds.) Proceedings of The First Workshop of the Learner Data Institute - Big Data, Research Challenges, & Science Convergence in Educational Data Science, The 13th International Conference on Educational Data Mining (EDM 2020), July 10-13, Ifrane, Morroco (held online). [PDF] [use this paper to cite The Learner Data Institute]

An additional paper about LDI is the update provided at the 2nd Learner Data Institute Workshop at EDM 2021:

Rus, V., Fancsali, S.E., Venugopal, D., Pavlik Jr., P., Graesser, A.C., Bowman, D., Ritter, and The LDI Team. (2021). The Learner Data Institute - Conceptualization: A Progress Report, Proceedings of The Second Workshop of the Learner Data Institute , The 14th International Conference on Educational Data Mining (EDM 2021), June 29 - July 2 , Paris, France (held online). [PDF]

Our blog:

Recent Events & News

  • Dr. Vasile Rus receives a ~$2 million development and innovation grant from the Department of Education for the project "iCODE: Adaptive Training of Students' Code Comprehension Processes". iCODE (improve source CODE comprehension) is a novel education technology that targets code comprehension, a critical skill for both learners and professionals. Computer Science (CS) and non-CS, e.g., Data Science, and students from underrepresented groups (females, students of color, first generation status) will greatly benefit from iCODE. Furthermore, education materials such as examples for code comprehension activities and assessment instruments will be developed. More news can be found here: .

  • Nabonita Mitra and Bashir I. Morshed, "Automatic Detection of Situational Contexts Using AI from Minimal Sensor Modality”, IEEE Intl. Conf. On Electro/Information Technology (EIT), (accepted), Minnesota State University, MN, USA, May 15-19, 2022.

  • Mahbul Hasan (Ph.D. student of Dr. Dale Bowman) had a paper accepted for the IEEE S & P meeting in San Francisco, CA in May 2022. Paper entitled: "Differentially Private Synthetic Data Generation using Variational Autoencoders”. He will present at the short talk session.

  • New award from the Manhattan Strategy Group for an effort led by Dr. John Sabatini and done jointly with The Center for Research in Education Policy (CREP) and co-PI Dr. Todd Zobotsky to analyze NAEP data.

  • Software package release for Student Strategy Prediction using a Neuro-Symbolic Approach:

  • Memphis Data Conference March 31-April 1, 2022 at the University of Memphis FIT. Many of our LDI members are also part of this event!

Program Chair: Deepak Venugopal (Computer Science), Core (Stats/Compsci): Lih-Yuan Deng (Statistics), Ching-Chi Yang (Statistics) Panel/Tutorial Chairs Dale Bowman (Mathematical Sciences, Statistics)

  • March 7, 2022: Congratulations to LDI UM Team member Weizi Li for recently being awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation!

Dr. Weizi Li, Department of Computer Science professor, has been awarded a $175,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his project "Towards Effective and Efficient City-scale Traffic Reconstruction." The two-year project will explore and develop effective and efficient mechanisms to reconstruct city-scale traffic using mobile data. More information about the project can be found at the NSF award abstract website.

  • January 5, 2022: The Proceedings of the Second Workshop of the Learner Data Institute (held as a part of Educational Data Mining 2021) are published and available here!

  • November 9, 2021: Congratulations to LDI Corporate Partner Carnegie Learning for recently being awarded two grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences!

    • Steve Ritter is PI for MATHia: A Digital Learning Platform Supporting Core and Supplemental Instruction in Middle and High School Mathematics (Award R305N210045). Funded by the National Center for Education Research, this five-year award provides approximately $2 million to integrate MATHia with the UpGrade open-source platform to support learning science researchers ability to conduct large-scale field trials in MATHia that promote learner equity and advance the state of the art in adaptive learning platforms. The project is part of the Digital Learning Platforms to Enable Efficient Education Research Network. Read more about the project here.

    • Steve Ritter and Stephen Fancsali are Co-PIs for Math and Reading Acquisition Co-Adaptive System (Award R324A210289). This 3.5 year project is a collaboration between Carnegie Learning and researchers at CAST to develop individualized supports for reading in the MATHia adaptive learning platform. Nearly $2 million in funding is provided by the National Center for Special Education Research. Read more about this project here.

  • Leigh Harrell-Williams, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Counseling, Education Psychology & Research, received an award from The University of Memphis' Division of Research & Innovation as part of the 2022 Communities of Research Scholars (CoRS) Program for her project entitled: “Memphis Women+’s Mentorship Network”.

  • In Summer 2021, Carnegie Learning released a new collection of datasets (with anonymized learner data from 5,000+ learners) from the MATHia platform to LearnSphere DataShop. Check it out here: Carnegie Learning MATHia 2019-2020. Contact Stephen Fancsali if you have any questions!

  • Todd Zoblotsky to PI NSF grant. The grant is the vision for engineering leadership that will address global and societal needs ($8 million for five years). They will be responsible for the evaluation of the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA), which was formed under the NSF Directorate of Engineering.

  • July 13, 2021: PhD student, Zeyad Alshaikh (advisor: Dr. Vasile Rus) successfully defended his dissertation entitled: Expert-generated and Auto-generated Socratic Tutors for Code Comprehension.

  • June 29, 2021: Second (Virtual) Workshop of the Learner Data Institute at the Fourteenth International Conference on Educational Data Mining! Dr. Ryan S. Baker delivered a keynote talk at the workshop. Dr. Baker is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and the Director of the Penn Center for Learning Analytics.

  • June 2021: Dr. Laura Casey, Professor in the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership, was awarded $1,622,400 and $1,111,500, respectively, from the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Diabetes with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for her projects “UofM Home/Community Based Early Intervention (HCBEI) Services” and “UofM CBEI Services.”

  • June 2021: Dr. John Sabatini, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Intelligent Systems, was awarded $46,602 from the Education Testing Service with the U.S. Department of Education for his project “Exploring and Assessing the Development of Students' Argumentation Skills.”

  • May 26, 2021: Dr. Vasile Rus presents a paper entitled: "Recommendations for GIFT from The Learner Data Institute," at GIFT SYM 9 on the LDI.

  • April 1-2, 2021: The Learner Data Institute (LDI) Spring 2021 Meeting will take place virtually on Zoom!

    • Our keynote speaker on Day 2 is Dr. Justin Reich (Assistant Professor Of Comparative Media Studies/Writing & Executive Director Of Teaching Systems Lab, MIT). His recent book is Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can't Transform Education. Learn more at

  • December 1, 2020: Congratulations to Dr. Laura Casey, who was awarded over $1.1 million from the Tennessee Department of Education for her project “TEIS Home and Community Developmental therapy” as well as over $1.6 million for three years for "TEIS Centered Based Developmental Therapy".

  • October 1, 2020: Congratulations to Dr. Steve Ritter, who is Co-PI on a new, three-year NSF funded grant on "Exploring Algorithmic Fairness and Potential Bias in K-12 Mathematics Adaptive Learning" (NSF Award #2000638). Read more about the grant here.

  • October 1, 2020: Congratulations to Learner Data Institute (LDI) Co-PI Deepak Venugopal and PI Vasile Rus on the kick-off of their three-year NSF funded grant on "Investigating techniques that couple Markov Logic and Deep Learning with applications to discovering strategies to improve STEM learning" (NSF Award #2008812; PI Venugopal, Co-PI Rus). Read more about the grant here.

  • September 1, 2020: Congratulations to John Sabatini, Art Graesser, and their collaborators on the start of their project “Developing and Implementing a Technology-Based Reading Comprehension Instruction System for Adult Literacy Students" funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences (IES Award #R305A200413; PI Sabatini, Co-PI Graesser). Read more about the four year project here.


The Learner Data Institute’s mission is to harness the data revolution to further our understanding of how people learn, how to improve adaptive instructional systems (AISs), and how to make emerging learning ecosystems that include online and blended learning with AISs more effective, efficient, engaging, relevant, and affordable.

An Academia-Industry-Government Collaboration


Lead Principal Investigator: Dr. Vasile Rus (

Project Coordinator: Jody Cockroft (