Rising Stars 2020:

Emily Hastings

PhD Candidate

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Areas of Interest

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction


LIFT: Integrating Stakeholder Voices into Algorithmic Team Formation


Team formation tools assume instructors should configure the criteria for creating teams, precluding students from participating in a process affecting their learning experience. We propose LIFT, a novel learner-centered workflow where students propose, vote for, and weigh the criteria used as inputs to the team formation algorithm. We conducted an experiment (N=289) comparing LIFT to the usual instructor-led process, and interviewed participants to evaluate their perceptions of LIFT and its outcomes. Learners proposed novel criteria not included in existing algorithmic tools, such as organizational style. They avoided criteria like gender and GPA that instructors frequently select, and preferred those promoting efficient collaboration. LIFT led to team outcomes comparable to those achieved by the instructor-led approach, and teams valued having control of the team formation process. We provide instructors and designers with a workflow and evidence supporting giving learners control of the algorithmic process used for grouping them into teams.


I am a fifth year Ph.D. student in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, studying Human-Computer Interaction with Professors Brian Bailey and Karrie Karahalios. I earned my M.S. in CS along the way in 2019. My research interests include algorithmic team formation, STEM education, algorithm awareness, and crowdsourcing. I am currently a Mavis Future Faculty Fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year. I was formerly a Graduate Measurement Science and Engineering Fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, working with Michael Brundage, Thurston Sexton, and the Knowledge Extraction and Application team in NIST’s Engineering Laboratory. I previously earned my B.A. summa cum laude from Knox College in Galesburg, IL with a major in Computer Science and a self-designed minor in Renaissance and Medieval Studies. I have always been interested in both fields, and in addition to my current research, I am particularly excited about projects that combine the two areas.

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