Dr. Xiaoming Zhai obtained his Ph.D. in physics education (K-12) at Beijing Normal University in 2017. Before entering the Ph.D. program, he was a high school physics teacher for nine years (07/2005-07/2014), during which he won up to 30 awards in teaching, research, and mentoring teachers in China, including a first-place national-wide physics teaching competition prize in 2011. During his Ph.D. program, he visited the measurement and statistic group at the University of Washington advised by Dr. Min Li funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council (09/2015 to 09/2016). After graduation, he got funded by NSF as a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford Graduate School of Education advised by Dr. Maria A. Ruiz-Primo on contextualized science assessment project (10/2017-09/2018). Prior to his arrival at MSU, he was a research specialist at UIC advised by Drs. James Pellegrino and Yue Yin on three-dimensional assessment project (NSF) and assessment of computational thinking project (NSF). Dr. Zhai's contribution to local education has been covered by media for up to six times.
Dr. Zhai is interested in using assessment to advance K-12 science education. In particular, (a) Developing science assessments to assess complex construct (e.g., modeling, computational thinking, understanding of disciplinary ideas) in science. At Stanford, he developed the approach of using fundamental ideas to assess student thinking. He had been working as an expert in item development in national-wide testing in China. (b) Using assessment to support science teaching. He had validated learning progressions (LPs) of scientific modeling, buoyancy, etc. He further used LPs to support teachers’ formative assessment practices, adjustments of lesson plans, critiquing lesson plans, and decision-making. (c) Evaluating the use of technology and curriculum in science education. He examined the use of technology (e.g., mobile technology, web-based inquiry, smart classroom) in high-school physics classrooms from many pedagogical perspectives (e.g., the agency of using technology); and have also examined how explicit and implicit curriculum impact pre-service physics teachers’ motivation to be a rural physics teacher. His lesson plan is adopted in the new released national-wide physics curriculum and standards in China.
Dr. Zhai is serving as editorial board member for Journal of Research in Science Teaching, and is a reviewer for eight other prestigious Journals in science education, assessment, and technology.