Dr. Xiaodong Lin-Siegler

Professor of Educational Psychology
Founding Director of Education for Persistence and Innovation Center (EPIC)
Teachers College, Columbia University

EPIC’s Research Programs

Our research addresses a central question about human development and education: how and when do people perceive failures and setbacks as crucial information and a stepping stone to grow?

For decades, research in education has focused on teaching subject matter, student achievement and academic skills. There is no doubt that these areas are important. The foundational belief of EPIC research programs is that even high-quality instruction may yield disappointing results if students give up when they encounter failure or undesirable outcomes. 

To benefit maximally from school and in life beyond K-12, students need to utilize the information that comes from both success and failure, as well as learn how to use that information to achieve later in life. EPIC’s research as follows focuses on what failure means to children and adults from various backgrounds, sources of their failures, determinants of people’s reaction to failure, and how to help people cope with their failure experiences.

EPIC research program consists of the following areas of studies:

The Failure of Exceptional Athletes and Scientists

We are studying exceptional achievement among scientists and athletes and how failure experiences have shaped their path to success. We interviewed Nobel Laureates and exceptional athletes to understand the strategies that they used to benefit from their failure experiences. Read more…

Learning About Other People’s Failure to Cope with One’s Own Failure

We studied how other people’s failures, especially the great scientists’ struggles, could inspire students in their own learning endeavors. Existent evidence suggests that students can benefit from learning about the failures of others and experiencing and understanding their own failure. Read more…

Cross-culture and STEM Education

We are currently conducting studies to investigate how students of different ages, academic performance levels, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds interpret and react to various kinds of failures, setbacks, and undesirable situations, especially in the STEM field. Read more…

Goals, Metacognition, and Problem Solving

In education, goals have been shown to be a powerful predictor of student academic accomplishments. We are studying how students’ understanding of their own goals, goals set by their teachers and schools impact their learning and problem-solving across a range of challenging domains. Read more…

Instructional Media That Motivates Learning

We are investigating how instructional design could motivate students’ learning in schools. We conducted a series of classroom-based experiments with random assignments of students to different instructional conditions using technologies and media, and assessed learning outcomes produced by these conditions. Read more…