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Michelene (Micki) Chi

CGI Fellow Q&A: The ICAP Hypothesis

Paper: Chi, M.T.H. (2009) Active-contructive-interactive: a conceptual framework for differentiating learning activities. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1:73-105

Michelene Chi, a Professor of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, is a cognitive learning scientist. Dr. Chi’s research focuses on understanding how students learn and designing new instructional formats to enhance students’ learning of concepts in science-related domains, for students at the K-16 level. She has published widely on various topics of learning, such as conceptual change, expertise, learning from being tutored and learning strategies such as self-explaining.

Her current work focuses on three strands. One strand tests her hypothesis about how to assess the different ways of engaging students cognitively, using students’ overt actions as a measure of cognitive engagement. Her theoretical framework and hypothesis can predict not only how well students learn on the basis of their overt engagement behaviors, but also can inform instructors on how to design more engaging classroom activities. A second strand of her work focuses on ways of enhancing students’ understanding of emergent-kind of processes that are typically taught in science classes, such as the processes of natural selection and diffusion. Her theoretical analyses suggest that in order for students to understand this kind of processes, students must first be taught ideas about emergence. The third strand of her current work examines novel ways to deliver online instruction that may optimize students’ learning. One such method is to present instructional materials via videos of tutorial dialogue, as opposed to videos of a talking head (or an instructional monologue).

In addition to these three research strands, Dr. Chi continues to develop new ways of coding protocols, such as coding interactions, as well as pursuing ways to maximize the effectiveness of collaborative learning. Her work has been widely cited (close to 23,000 times, see In recognition of her scholarship, Dr. Chi has received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Senior Research Award from the University of Pittsburgh. One of her papers has reached the status of a “citation classic.” Dr. Chi was a former executive editor of Cognitive Science, one of seven inaugural Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society, and an invited resident Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. She was recently elected to the National Academy of Education.