LASER Institute:

Learning Analytics in STEM Education Research

The Learning Analytics in STEM Education Research (LASER) Institute is a professional development program for early and mid-career researchers and funded by the National Science Foundation (ECR: BCSER).

As the use of digital teaching and learning resources continues to expand, the volume and variety of data available to researchers presents new opportunities for understanding and improving STEM education. The LASER Institute aims to increase the capacity of early and mid-career scholars to leverage new data sources and apply computational methods (e.g., network analysis, text mining and machine learning) to support their existing research and develop new lines of inquiry. Located at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, the LASER Institute is a collaborative effort between North Carolina State University, Old Dominion University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


  • Disciplinary Knowledge: Scholars will deepen their understanding of LA methodologies, literature, applications and ethical issues as they relate to STEM education and equity.
  • Technical Skills: Scholars will develop proficiency with R, RStudio, GitHub and other tools used for collaboration, reproducible research and computational analysis.
  • Social Capital: Scholars will expand their professional networks, connecting with researchers and experts in LA related fields, as well as other scholars focused on STEM education.

Institute Details

The LASER Institute is a year-long program consisting of two core components:

  1. Summer Workshop: The Friday Institute will host an intensive 5-day program consisting of learning labs, research planning sessions, and guest speakers.
  2. Online Community: An online community of practice for ongoing networking and support throughout the year.

The weeklong intensive program will be conducted at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. However, anticipating continued disruptions related to the COVID-19, we will shift planned in-person activities for the 2021 cohort to an interactive virtual setting.

The summer workshop will take place June 14–25, 2021, and consist of four half-day sessions each week, with one day each week reserved for planning, mentoring, and independent work. Participants will receive a $1,500 stipend for their participation in institute activities.

Course Objectives

By the end of the program, participants will be able to:

  • Describe STEM education questions/issues addressed by LA and associated analytical approaches/applications;
  • Identify relevant and appropriate STEM educational data sources for computational analyses;
  • Apply computational techniques (e.g., machine learning and text mining) using R and RStudio to prepare, explore and model STEM education data;
  • Evaluate both the technical feasibility and ethical issues in using analytics to support STEM teaching and learning, and school and district-level decision-making; and
  • Develop a collaborative research agenda in STEM education that seeks to address challenges in STEM education from a Learning Analytics lens.
Project Website LASER Institute