Xu has been working with her advisor, Professor Mark Warschauer, on the Digital Learning Lab project Conversational Agents for Young Learners, which is using conversation-based audio stories to promote early language and literacy skills and science videos to foster scientific knowledge and curiosity.
"The conversational agent pauses at particular points in the story," explains Xu, "and prompts children to answer an open-ended question. The conversational agent then gives feedback on the children’s responses, explaining why the answer is correct or incorrect. We expect that findings from our research will offer design implications for dialogic systems for young children’s informal learning."
"The entire Converse to Learn project was Xu's idea," Warschauer said. "It's amazing how she was able to bring to fruition an innovation that can potentially reach millions of children with more engaging ways to develop language ability and scientific knowledge."
Xu is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate specializing in Language, Literacy, and Technology. She graduated from Sun Yat-sen University with a B.A. in Chinese Linguistics and Literature and earned an M.A. in Comparative and World Literature. Her academic training, together with her work experience as a children’s educational media designer, have guided her interdisciplinary research at the intersection of language development, education, and human-computer interaction. During Xu’s time as a doctoral student at UCI, she has contributed to three research projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation, in which she enthusiastically embraces using learning principles to maximize the benefits of cutting-edge educational technologies in supporting student learning in diverse communities.