Tech Alumna Wins International Award

Lauren Margulieux has been named grant award winner for a doctoral project in the field of education by the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) and Emerald Group Publishing. The award recognizes excellence in research in education.

Now an assistant professor in Georgia State University’s Learning Technologies Division, Margulieux received a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in 2016. Her winning dissertation is titled “Using Subgoal Learning and Self-Explanation to Improve Programming Education.” Margulieux’s doctoral mentor was Richard Catrambone, a professor in the School of Psychology and an adjunct professor in the College of Computing.

Margulieux’s dissertation explored ways of designing instruction to help online students learn computer programming more efficiently. “Many students who learn online cannot ask questions and get immediate answers from their instructors while they are working through problems, as they would in an in-person class,” Margulieux says.

To address this problem, her dissertation research tested learning strategies that help students to answer their own questions and improve their performance. She found that guiding students to explain the problem-solving process to themselves improved their learning better than receiving explanations about the problem-solving process, but only when they received enough guidance.

“I had developed the ‘subgoal learning model’ as a way to improve how instructional materials are developed and to help learners solve novel problems,” Catrambone says. "Lauren's research has enhanced the model by exploring how to help students be more active as they learn subgoals for solving problems."

Margulieux has also expanded the model by applying it to new domains and tasks such as computer programming, Catrambone says. “Her work moves subgoal learning theory forward and has practical implications for classroom and on-line instruction because it provides a relatively efficient and low-cost way to improve education for many students.”

“I’m delighted to receive this award because it will bring a lot of visibility to the work that I and others in my field are doing,” Margulieux says. “I work at the intersection of two growing education-related fields – Learning Sciences and Computer Science Education – that are not as widely known as more established fields, such as math education. I’m thrilled that my work is being upheld as a quality example of the field.”

At Georgia State, Margulieux’s research interests are educational technology and online learning, particularly for computer science and engineering education. She focuses on designing instructions that support online students who do not have immediate access to an instructor or professor to ask questions or seek help in problem solving. She also explores factors that affect the success of hybrid, blended, flipped, and inverted courses.