Biography:Michelene Chi

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Michelene (Micki) T. H. Chi is a cognitive and learning scientist known for her work on the development of expertise, benefits of self-explanations, and active learning in the classroom. Chi is the Regents Professor, Dorothy Bray Endowed Professor of Science and Teaching at Arizona State University, where she directs the Learning and Cognition Lab.[1]

Chi received the 2019 David E. Rumelhart Prize for significant theoretical contributions to human cognition.[2] Her award citation emphasizes how Chi challenged basic assumptions about the human mind and developed new approaches that have shaped a generation of cognitive and learning scientists.[2][3]

Other awards include the 1982 Boyd McCandless Award from the American Psychological Association for early career contributions to developmental psychology[4]and the 2013 Sylvia Scribner Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for research in the field of learning and instruction.[5] Chi received 2015 E. L.Thorndike Award from the American Psychological Association for lifetime research contributions[6][7] and the 2016 AERA Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award.[8]

Chi has co-edited several books including The Nature of Expertise[9] (with Robert Glaser and Marshall Farr), Trends in Memory Development Research (with Larry Nucci),[10] and the Handbook of Applied Cognition (with Francis Durso, Raymond Nickerson, Roger Schvaneveldt, Susan Dumais and Stephen Linsday).[11]


Chi received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1970. She then obtained her PhD in Psychology in 1975 from the same university. [1]Her dissertation titled The Development of Short-term Memory Capacity[12] was supervised by David Klahr, Patricia Carpenter, and Herbert Simon. Chi completed a post doctoral fellowship at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh (1975-1977), supervised by Robert Glaser. [1]

Chi held research and faculty positions at the University of Pittsburgh before joining the faculty of Arizona State University in 2008.[1][2] Chi's research has been supported by numerous grants from organizations including the National Science Foundation,[13][14] the Institute of Education Sciences[15] [16]and the Spencer Foundation.[17]

Chi is married to Kurt VanLehn, the Diane and Gary Tooker Chair for Effective Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. VanLehn's research focuses on intelligent tutoring systems, classroom orchestration systems, and other intelligent interactive instructional technology.[18] Chi and VanLehn have a son, Reid Van Lehn, who is a member of the Faculty in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.[19]

Her first husband was William G Chase, a Professor of Psychology at Carnegie-Mellon University who passed away on December 16, 1983. Chi and Chase had two daughters together, Michelle and Catherine Chase.[20]Michelle Chase is a historian of modern Latin America, specializing in twentieth-century Cuba and a member of the Faculty of Pace University.[21]Catherine Chase is a cognitive scientist who studies learning of STEM subjects in K-16 students;[22] she a member of the Faculty of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.[23]

Chi is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences[24] and the National Academy of Education.[25]


Chi's research focuses on active learning and student engagement in STEM subjects. Her research team has explored numerous factors associated with student learning, including benefits of self-explanations,[26] [27] human tutoring,[28] [29] and watching videos of student-teacher dialogues.[30] Chi and her colleagues have proposed that children have difficulties learning scientific concepts due to a lack of reference to these concepts within their daily lives. Scientific material is hard to grasp because the material learned in the classroom does not normally relate to the daily events, phenomena, and environments children use to understand causality.[31][32]

Chi developed a theoretical framework for active learning called ICAP. ICAP framework defines and categorizes student engagement behaviors towards educational material into four modes: collaborative / Interactive, generative / Constructive, manipulative / Active, attentive / Passive. The ICAP hypothesizes that as students become more engaged with the learning materials when their engagement moves from passive to active to constructive to interactive. Students' learning will also increase as they move through each mode.[33] Chi's paper Why students learn more from dialogue- than monologue-videos: Analyses of peer interactions (written with co-authors Seokmin Kang and David Yaghmourian) was awarded Best Paper published in Journal of the Learning Sciences Award by International Society of the Learning Sciences in 2017.[34] This paper used the ICAP framework as means of understanding why students learn more from watching tutorial dialogue-videos than lecture-style monologue-videos.[35]

Representative Publications

  • Chi, M. T., Bassok, M., Lewis, M. W., Reimann, P., & Glaser, R. (1989). Self-explanations: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems. Cognitive Science, 13(2), 145-182.
  • Chi, M. T., De Leeuw, N., Chiu, M. H., & LaVancher, C. (1994). Eliciting self-explanations improves understanding. Cognitive Science, 18(3), 439-477.
  • Chi, M. T., Feltovich, P. J., & Glaser, R. (1981). Categorization and representation of physics problems by experts and novices. Cognitive Science, 5(2), 121-152.
  • Chi, M. T., Siler, S. A., Jeong, H., Yamauchi, T., & Hausmann, R. G. (2001). Learning from human tutoring. Cognitive Science, 25(4), 471-533.
  • Chi, M. T., & Wylie, R. (2014). The ICAP framework: Linking cognitive engagement to active learning outcomes. Educational psychologist, 49(4), 219-243.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Michelene Chi" (in en). 2019-10-12. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Rumelhart Prize |" (in en-US). 
  3. "Chi awarded the 2019 Rumelhart Prize, 'the Nobel Prize in Cognitive Science'" (in en). 2018-08-06. 
  4. "Boyd McCandless Award" (in en). 
  5. "Michelene Chi" (in en). 
  6. "Past Recipients of the E.L. Thorndike Award" (in en-US). 2013-12-18. 
  7. "Michelene Chi" (in en). 
  8. "Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award". 
  9. The nature of expertise. Chi, Michelene T. H., Glaser, Robert, 1921-2012., Farr, Marshall J.. Hillsdale, N.J.. 2014-01-02. ISBN 9781317760276. OCLC 868068552. 
  10. Trends in memory development research. Chi, Michelene T. H., Society for Research in Child Development. Meeting (1981 : Boston, Mass.). Basel: Karger. 1983. ISBN 9783805536615. OCLC 9465885. 
  11. Handbook of applied cognition. Durso, Francis Thomas., Nickerson, Raymond S.. Chichester: Wiley. 1999. ISBN 0470842245. OCLC 49851637. 
  12. Chi, M. T. H. (1976). The Development of Short-Term Memory Capacity.. 
  13. "NSF Award Search: Award#9720359 - Learning and Intelligent Systems: CIRCLE: Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Constructive Learning Environments". 
  14. "NSF Award Search: Award#0935235 - Using a Cognitive Framework of Differentiated Overt Learning Activities (DOLA) for Designing Effective Classroom Instruction in Materials Science and Nanotechnology". 
  15. "Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts - Details". 
  16. "Search Funded Research Grants - Program Details". 
  17. "The Spencer Foundation". 
  18. "Kurt VanLehn - BIO". 
  19. "Van Lehn, Reid - UW-Engineering Directory | College of Engineering @ The University of Wisconsin-Madison" (in en-US). 
  20. Simon, Herbert A. (1985). "Obituary: William G. Chase (1940-1983).". American Psychologist 40 (5): 561. doi:10.1037/h0092209. ISSN 1935-990X. 
  21. "Faculty profiles mchase | DYSON COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES". 
  22. "Catherine C. Chase" (in en). 
  23. "Chase, Catherine C. (cc3663) | Teachers College, Columbia University" (in en). 
  24. "Michelene T.H. Chi" (in en). 
  25. "Michelene Chi" (in en-US). 
  26. Chi, Michelene T. H.; Bassok, Miriam; Lewis, Matthew W.; Reimann, Peter; Glaser, Robert (1989-04-01). "Self-explanations: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems". Cognitive Science 13 (2): 145–182. doi:10.1016/0364-0213(89)90002-5. ISSN 0364-0213. 
  27. Chi, Michelene T. H.; De Leeuw, Nicholas; Chiu, Mei-Hung; Lavancher, Christian (1994-07-01). "Eliciting self-explanations improves understanding". Cognitive Science 18 (3): 439–477. doi:10.1016/0364-0213(94)90016-7. ISSN 0364-0213. 
  28. Chi, Michelene T. H.; Siler, Stephanie A.; Jeong, Heisawn; Yamauchi, Takashi; Hausmann, Robert G. (2001). "Learning from human tutoring" (in en). Cognitive Science 25 (4): 471–533. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog2504_1. ISSN 1551-6709. 
  29. Roscoe, Rod D.; Chi, Michelene T. H. (2007-12-01). "Understanding Tutor Learning: Knowledge-Building and Knowledge-Telling in Peer Tutors' Explanations and Questions" (in en). Review of Educational Research 77 (4): 534–574. doi:10.3102/0034654307309920. ISSN 0034-6543. 
  30. Craig, Scotty D.; Chi, Michelene T. H.; VanLehn, Kurt (2009). "Improving classroom learning by collaboratively observing human tutoring videos while problem solving." (in en). Journal of Educational Psychology 101 (4): 779–789. doi:10.1037/a0016601. ISSN 1939-2176. 
  31. Chi, Michelene T. H.; Roscoe, Rod D.; Slotta, James D.; Roy, Marguerite; Chase, Catherine C. (2012). "Misconceived Causal Explanations for Emergent Processes" (in en). Cognitive Science 36 (1): 1–61. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2011.01207.x. ISSN 1551-6709. 
  32. Slotta, James D.; Chi, Michelene T. H. (2006-06-01). "Helping Students Understand Challenging Topics in Science Through Ontology Training". Cognition and Instruction 24 (2): 261–289. doi:10.1207/s1532690xci2402_3. ISSN 0737-0008. 
  33. Chi, Michelene T. H.; Wylie, Ruth (2014-10-02). "The ICAP Framework: Linking Cognitive Engagement to Active Learning Outcomes". Educational Psychologist 49 (4): 219–243. doi:10.1080/00461520.2014.965823. ISSN 0046-1520. 
  34. "JLS Best Paper Awards for 2017 Announced" (in en-gb). 
  35. Chi, Michelene T. H.; Kang, Seokmin; Yaghmourian, David L. (2017-01-02). "Why Students Learn More From Dialogue- Than Monologue-Videos: Analyses of Peer Interactions". Journal of the Learning Sciences 26 (1): 10–50. doi:10.1080/10508406.2016.1204546. ISSN 1050-8406. 

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