New Tools for Causal Investigations of for Whom and Where an Educational Intervention is Effective and Why
Xu Qin

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pittsburgh

Primary Discipline

Literacy and/or English/Language Education
Research questions about for whom and where an intervention is effective have become increasingly valued in educational research. To further understand why, it becomes essential to conduct a causal moderated mediation analysis, which assesses the heterogeneity of the mediation mechanism underlying the intervention impact across individual and contextual characteristics. However, this line of research has been underdeveloped due to the lack of statistical tools. This project aims to fill the gap by developing an analytic procedure, a sensitivity analysis strategy, and a power analysis tool for causal moderated mediation analysis. Evidence obtained based on the methods will not only advance scientific knowledge in education but also suggest useful future directions for the improvement of educational interventions. The methods will be evaluated through both Monte Carlo simulation studies and real data applications. A user-friendly R package will also be developed to enable educational researchers to easily implement the methods, so that they can better illuminate how reforms can be designed and implemented for different types of students and under different settings to maximize benefits of educational programs.
About Xu Qin
Xu Qin is an assistant professor of research methodology in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on 1) developing statistical methods for investigating the heterogeneity in causal mediation mechanisms in single-level and multilevel settings; 2) developing sensitivity analysis and power analysis methods for causal mediation analysis; and 3) applying causal inference methods for educational program evaluations. She is a past recipient of a National Academy of Education /Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2017). She has received research funding from the Spencer Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, and National Science Foundation. Her work has been published in the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Psychological Methods, and Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A (Statistics in Society), among others. Xu earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.

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