Established in 2018, the Education for Persistence and Innovation Center (EPIC) is primarily a research and development center. Focused on Cognitive, Psychological and Curriculum research, EPIC has a broad mission statement that encompasses multiple fields and disciplines. One of the most prominent focuses of study conducted by EPIC is the research into the fundamental nature of failure. Failure is an essential aspect of the learning process, and is cited by luminaries across the globe as a catalyst for innovation and success. This was exemplified by the honoree Dr. James S.C. Chao, during the inaugural ceremony for EPIC, where he discussed how his immense success was preceded by many experiences with failure throughout his lifetime.
EPIC is creating a new theory, assessments, and technologies that prepare students to continue learning and to adapt when facing challenging and failure situations in their lives. Our focus is to integrate of cognitive science with cross-cultural living and years of classroom experience to create novel and carefully tested instructional activities, technologies, and theories of learning from failure. A theme throughout our research is that people, particularly young children, can grow both from learning about the failures of other people and from experiencing failure themselves. Crucially, for failure to have positive effects, students need to realize that it offers valuable information that is central to their future success.
Another unique feature of our team is that our research interests and passions are not just theoretically driven, but also originated from the director’s own personal experiences with failure. Growing up in a remote village in China during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Dr. Xiaodong Lin-Siegler did not attend school for part of her childhood, from 9 years old to 15 years old. She eventually would became a world-class, tenured professor at Columbia University. A dazzling accomplishment gave her difficult beginnings. Many of her friends in China interpreted her success strictly as an outcome of her intelligence and good fortune. Nothing could be further from the truth. She has experienced a host of setbacks on the way to becoming a professor at one of the top universities in the world.
Just to name a few examples of Dr. Xiaodong Lin-Siegler’s failures. She failed to be admitted to a college in China after graduating from high school, and was a student placed in a remedial program for two years before she was finally admitted to college. The postdoctoral position she most desired was denied to her, until she drove eight hours to meet with the postdoctoral advisor and convinced him to offer her the position on a trial basis. The 2016 article published in the Journal of Educational Psychology that received APA press release and was featured by over 30 social media was rejected by four other journals before being accepted. We value the insights one brings from their own personal experiences to scientific research studies.
EPIC research has been primarily supported by the National Science Foundation, the United States and Chinese governments and by private donors and charity foundations.