Winslow Burleson headshot

Winslow Burleson

Associate Professor
Affiliated Associate Professor, Tandon School of Engineering
Affiliated Associate Professor, Courant Institute
Affiliated Associate Professor, College of Global Public Health

1 212 998 5376

433 First Avenue
Room 740
New York, NY 10010
United States

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Professional overview

Winslow Burleson joined the New York University College of Nursing as Associate Professor in September 2014. Win leads the NYU-X Lab (www.nyu-x.org) advancing transformations in Health, Technology, Education, and Innovation. He is the Principal Investigator for the 5 year, $4 million NSF Major Research Infrastructure project, "Development of Experiential Supercomputing: A Transdisciplinary Research and Innovation Holodeck." Previously, Win was an Assistant Professor at the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, and Senior Sustainability Scientist at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU). He was recently selected as a Fulbright Specialist Roster Candidate in Computer Science. As a social inventor, he led Motivational Environments, a 20-person research group advancing human-centered technology and design strategy to improve quality of life through increased creativity, learning, and health. Win was recognized by ASU as an outstanding professor and by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as “one of the nation’s leading engineering researchers and educators” for service and leadership roles in advancing world-class transdisciplinary research and education for minority and under-served learners. Win has raised over $11 million in collaborative funding and received the best paper award at the 2009 International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the field’s top conference, showing Affective Learning Companions’ ability to have large-scale societal impact on thousands of students, by bringing cyber-enabled learning research into classroom settings. Win has been awarded 10 patents, four inventor and innovator awards from IBM Research, two Time Magazine Awards for the top 10 and top 50 inventions of the year, authored over 100 scientific publications, exhibited at the Pompidou Centre, and performed in Carnegie Hall.

Honors and awards

White House Fellow Regional Finalist (New York, NY) (2015)



Professional membership

Association for Computing Machinery



Can a Non-Cognitive Learning Companion Increase the Effectiveness of a Meta-Cognitive Learning Strategy?

Vanlehn, K., Zhang, L., Burleson, W., Girard, S., & Hidago-Pontet, Y. (2017). IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 10(3), 277-289. 10.1109/TLT.2016.2594775
This project aimed to improve students' learning and task performance using a non-cognitive learning companion in the context of both a tutor and a meta-tutor. The tutor taught students how to construct models of dynamic systems and the meta-tutor taught students a learning strategy. The non-cognitive learning companion was designed to increase students' effort and persistence in using the learning strategy. It decided when to intervene and what to say using both log data and affective state monitoring via a facial expression camera and a posture sensor. Experiments with high school students showed that the non-cognitive learning companion increased students' learning and performance. However, it had no effect on performance during a transfer phase in which the learning companion, meta-tutor, and tutor were all absent. The transfer phase null effect must be interpreted with caution due to low power, a possible floor effect, and other issues.

Health Technology-Enabled Interventions for Adherence Support and Retention in Care Among US HIV-Infected Adolescents and Young Adults: An Integrative Review

Margaret-Navarra, A., Gwadz, M. V., Whittemore, R., Bakken, S. R., Cleland, C. M., Burleson, W., Jacobs, S. K., & Melkus, G. D. (2017). AIDS and Behavior, 1-18. 10.1007/s10461-017-1867-6
The objective of this integrative review was to describe current US trends for health technology-enabled adherence interventions among behaviorally HIV-infected youth (ages 13–29 years), and present the feasibility and efficacy of identified interventions. A comprehensive search was executed across five electronic databases (January 2005–March 2016). Of the 1911 identified studies, nine met the inclusion criteria of quantitative or mixed methods design, technology-enabled adherence and or retention intervention for US HIV-infected youth. The majority were small pilots. Intervention dose varied between studies applying similar technology platforms with more than half not informed by a theoretical framework. Retention in care was not a reported outcome, and operationalization of adherence was heterogeneous across studies. Despite these limitations, synthesized findings from this review demonstrate feasibility of computer-based interventions, and initial efficacy of SMS texting for adherence support among HIV-infected youth. Moving forward, there is a pressing need for the expansion of this evidence base.

Addressing affective states with empathy and growth mindset

Arroyo, I., Schultz, S., Wixon, N., Muldner, K., Burleson, W., & Woolf, B. P. (2016). Unknown Journal, 1618.
We present results of a randomized controlled study that compared different types of affective support messages delivered by pedagogical agents. Results suggest that using a character that is empathic and emphasizes the malleability of intelligence and the importance of effort provides useful results in student learning, while reducing boredom and anxiety. Emphasizing success and failure ("That is correct/wrong") appears to be detrimental to learning and interest and promotes anxiety. We examine a variety of student affective, cognitive and engagement outcomes in an intelligent tutoring system for mathematics.

Optimists' Creed: Brave New Cyberlearning, Evolving Utopias (Circa 2041)

Burleson, W., & Lewis, A. (2016). International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 26(2), 796-808. 10.1007/s40593-016-0096-x
This essay imagines the role that artificial intelligence innovations play in the integrated living, learning and research environments of 2041. Here, in 2041, in the context of increasingly complex wicked challenges, whose solutions by their very nature continue to evade even the most capable experts, society and technology have co-evolved to embrace cyberlearning as an essential tool for envisioning and refining utopias-non-existent societies described in considerable detail. Our society appreciates that evolving these utopias is critical to creating and resolving wicked challenges and to better understanding how to create a world in which we are actively "learning to be" - deeply engaged in intrinsically motivating experiences that empower each of us to reach our full potential. Since 2015, Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) has transitioned from what was primarily a research endeavour, with educational impact involving millions of user/learners, to serving, now, as a core contributor to democratizing learning (Dewey 2004) and active citizenship for all (billions of learners throughout their lives). An expansive experiential super computing cyberlearning environment, we affectionately call the "Holodeck," supports transdisciplinary collaboration and integrated education, research, and innovation, providing a networked software/hardware infrastructure that synthesizes visual, audio, physical, social, and societal components. The Holodeck's large-scale integration of learning, research, and innovation, through real-world problem solving and teaching others what you have learned, effectively creates a global meritocratic network with the potential to resolve society's wicked challenges while empowering every citizen to realize her or his full potential.

Smart home strategies for user-centered functional assessment of older adults

Ravishankar, V. K., Burleson, W., & Mahoney, D. (2015). International Journal of Automation and Smart Technology, 5(4), 233-242. 10.5875/ausmt.v5i4.952
Successful aging, independence and capacity for aging in place involves the maintenance and preservation of individuals' physical, mental and social well-being. Elderly people need to maintain the capacity to perform both activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Advances in Smart Home technologies are increasingly able to provide embedded assessments of an individual's functional ability in his/her home on a momentto- moment, daily, and longitudinal basis. To date, in-situ functional assessment systems and research have focused to a greater extent on the advancement of technologies rather than the multi-faceted needs and experiences of users, however the success of any technology depends more on the users than the technology itself. This paper presents strategies for user-centric approaches to identify the technical and design challenges of developing, deploying, and using functional assessment systems in homes occupied by senior citizens. Case studies involved 4 healthy older adults (aged 65+), and examined the home deployment of smart home systems and interfaces aimed at assessment of a combination of ADL and IADL activities. Pre- and post-activity interviews were used to better understand issues related to desire, privacy, technological acceptance, suitability, and need fulfillment/support. The results inform strategies for usercentered functional assessment and assistive technology design and implementation, providing information capture, analysis, and delivery of in-home functional assessment that has the potential to support aging in place.

Utilizing sensor data to model students' creativity in a digital environment

Muldner, K., & Burleson, W. (2015). Computers in Human Behavior, 42, 127-137. 10.1016/j.chb.2013.10.060
While creativity is essential for developing students' broad expertise in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, many students struggle with various aspects of being creative. Digital technologies have the unique opportunity to support the creative process by (1) recognizing elements of students' creativity, such as when creativity is lacking (modeling step), and (2) providing tailored scaffolding based on that information (intervention step). However, to date little work exists on either of these aspects. Here, we focus on the modeling step. Specifically, we explore the utility of various sensing devices, including an eye tracker, a skin conductance bracelet, and an EEG sensor, for modeling creativity during an educational activity, namely geometry proof generation. We found reliable differences in sensor features characterizing low vs. high creativity students. We then applied machine learning to build classifiers that achieved good accuracy in distinguishing these two student groups, providing evidence that sensor features are valuable for modeling creativity.

Evaluation of a meta-tutor for constructing models of dynamic systems

Zhang, L., Vanlehn, K., Girard, S., Burleson, W., Chavez-Echeagaray, M. E., Gonzalez-Sanchez, J., & Hidalgo-Pontet, Y. (2014). Computers and Education, 75, 196-217. 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.02.015
Modelling is an important skill to acquire, but it is not an easy one for students to learn. Existing instructional technology has had limited success in teaching modelling. We have applied a recently developed technology, meta-tutoring, to address the important problem of teaching model construction. More specifically, we have developed and evaluated a system that has two parts, a tutor and a meta-tutor. The tutor is a simple step-based tutoring system that can give correct/incorrect feedback on student's steps and can demonstrate steps for students when asked. Because deep modelling requires difficult analyses of the quantitative relationships in a given system, we expected, and found, that students tended to avoid deep modelling by abusing the tutor's help. In order to increase the frequency of deep modelling, we added a meta-tutor that coached students to follow a learning strategy that decomposed the overall modelling problem into a series of "atomic" modelling problems. We conducted three experiments to test the effectiveness of the meta-tutor. The results indicate that students who studied with meta-tutor did indeed engage in more deep modelling practices. However, when the meta-tutor and tutor were turned off, students tended to revert to shallow modelling. Thus, the next stage of the research is to add an affective agent that will try to persuade students to persist in using the taught strategies even when the meta-tutoring and tutoring have ceased.

The impact of a social robot's attributions for success and failure in a teachable agent framework

Muldner, K., Girotto, V., Lozano, C., Burleson, W., & Walker, E. (2014). Proceedings of International Conference of the Learning Sciences, ICLS, 1, 278-285.
Teachable agents foster student learning by employing the learning by teaching paradigm. Since social factors influence learning from this paradigm, understanding which social behaviors a teachable agent should embody is an important first step for designing such an agent. Here, we focus on the impact of causal attributions made by a teachable agent. To obtain data on student perceptions of agent attributions, we conducted a study involving students interacting with a social robot that made attributions to ability and effort, and to the student, itself, or both. We analyzed data from semi-structured interviews to understand how different attributions influence student perceptions, and discuss design opportunities for manipulating these attributions to improve student motivation.

Learning from self-explaining emergent phenomena

Muldner, K., Burleson, W., & Chi, M. T. (2014). Proceedings of International Conference of the Learning Sciences, ICLS, 2, 847-854.
To date, relatively little work has explored how students learn about a particular class of processes, namely emergent ones. The research that has investigated these processes has primarily employed a case-study methodology. Here, we report on a controlled experiment comparing how students learn about the emergent topic of diffusion from self-explaining vs. from reading. In contrast to a prior study that found self-explanation was not associated with learning about emergence, students learned significantly more in the self-explaining condition. To shed light on how different types of self-explanations are related to learning, we analyze the content of students' explanations and their association to learning outcomes; we also present qualitative analysis of students' misconceptions and how these relate to existing theories of emergent attributes.

An experimental deployment of a portable inflatable habitat in open water to augment lengthy in-water decompression by scientific divers

Lombardi, M., Burleson, W., Godfrey, J., & Fryburg, R. (2013). Marine Technology Society Journal, 47(6), 52-63. 10.4031/MTSJ.47.6.4
Undersea living in the science community has effectively risen and fallen within the last half century. The paradigm of residing on the seafloor within a fixed, permanent structure, while body tissues are saturated with inert breathing gasses, provides for extended-duration excursions from such a structure, although limits geographical productivity to within reasonable proximity of the habitat structure itself. Saturation diving exploration with science motives provided an exciting opportunity during the 1960s and 1970s, with timing lending itself well to providing a sea-to-space analog for human residence in a remote and confined space, as the space race was underway. With limited saturation diving for science occurring presently, today's marine science paradigm is trending toward advanced autonomous diving technologies and techniques, including mixed-gas use, rebreathers, and staged decompression. These emerging technologies afford an enhanced "commodity-style" approach to exploration, in which diving scientists can travel to any remote locale and spend longer durations underwater than they can with the previous and more common paradigm of lightweight, travel-friendly, conventional open-circuit scuba (using air as the breathing medium). Amiss in the new paradigm is the practical extension of depth. This is well within reach with the use of emerging technologies; however, end-users are often dissuaded from the incurrence of lengthy decompression (exposure to the marine environment during what is effectively an extended idle time) that is required when scientists return from relatively short working periods at extended depths. In an effort to address these issues, we describe here the development and experimental deployment of a new class of portable inflatable underwater habitats that provide for rapid deployments, free from surface support augmentation requirements typical of the existing alternatives for lengthy decompression dives. In the context of vastly expanding the commoditystyle diving requirements of today's marine scientist and engineers, particularly in terms of increased depth and duration, we also discuss the further research and development applications that these habitats make possible.