Meet Kui Xie

October 17, 2023

Introducing the new chair for the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education

By Lauren Knapp

Kui Xie likes to build things. 

Kui Xie stands on a stage speaking into a microphone. He is wearing a dark suit and glasses.
Xie at the 2018 China Smart Show Expo Summit in Bejing, China.

Any way you examine Xie’s life, there is some aspect of building, or building upon, something to create anew. 

Restoring a 100-year-old pool table, just because? Or refinishing a basement to stave off boredom during a pandemic? Check. 

Building scholarly programs to the point where they are ranked among the best in the nation? Check. 

Establishing a robust, supportive and collaborative research lab that has generated millions in funding? Check. 

Expanding upon the success of a long-standing college department? Challenge accepted. 


Xie, a noted educational psychology and educational technology scholar, became the chairperson of the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education (CEPSE) in July 2023. He was also named a Red Cedar Distinguished Professor — an endowed position celebrating an individual for their collective accolades, scholarship and promise for future contributions. 

He comes to MSU from the Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology, where he was the Ted and Lois Cyphert Distinguished Professor, a role he had held since 2015. 

Xie’s ability to understand motivation, harness analytics and integrate technology into educational experiences is an important addition to the future of our college.

– Dean Jerlando F. L. Jackson

Start there in ways Xie is building things: a legacy. 

As an endowed professor at OSU — and now MSU — Xie is one of the few Asian Americans to be represented in such a role across the United States. Research shows Asian Americans hold only 3.5% of endowed professor positions across the U.S.* 

“As a first-generation immigrant, I started to realize [through life experiences]: We need to change the system and our world to be more inclusive,” said Xie. “What can I do as a scholar to resolve these situations to increase equity and inclusion? Research. What can I do as a leader? Foster a welcoming environment.”

He did just that at OSU — and also created a thriving environment. 

Kui Xie standing with a group of 8 OSU students, gathered around a presentation poster display.
Xie, front right, with OSU students. 

He built the first and only fully online degree in the college: the Master of Arts in Learning Technology. The program, which started in 2016, is now ranked among the top 10 in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. As chair of the Learning Technologies programs, Xie also elevated the associated doctoral program by increasing enrollment.  

Going further, he also established a service-based course (“Keys to academic success for online learners”) that has supported more than 1,500 students across OSU and tripled the enrollment for the master’s program. 


Xie was the founder (2014) and director of the Research Laboratory on Digital Learning (RLDL), which he brought to MSU. Through its efforts in Ohio, Xie was involved in more than $20 million dollars in funded research. Xie directly managed more than $3 million in funding for his research. 

Two core areas of his work are the social emotional aspects of learning and issues of technology design and innovation in schools. In both areas, he broadly explores topics such as how, when and why students feel engaged and motivated in their learning; how online and offline environments affect learning; and how to support educators in critically examining and implementing digital educational resources into the classroom.  

Research resonates with Xie — at time of writing, he had 24 journal articles and book chapters either published or accepted for publication in 2022-2023 — but it isn’t just research for the sake of research. 

It is all about making an impact, translating ideas from research, to practice, to sustainable change. 

Xie and his team worked with 25 schools across Ohio to identify challenges and translate those concerns into research questions. The findings were then remodeled into practical solutions for the schools. In this way, Xie estimates he and his team have supported more than 2,000 educators and 15,000 students. 

Not surprisingly, he will build on this type of work at MSU. 

“In my work, I pull together educational psychology theories, online technology components and methodology explorations. It makes me uniquely positioned as a crossover scholar to lead this department,” Xie said.


Xie is also interested in building (at least) one more thing: the future of the MSU College of Education. 

Since 2017, the MSU College of Education has welcomed new chairs in all four departments, and also welcomed Dean Jerlando F. L. Jackson in 2022.  

For Xie, this sense of newness is brimming with opportunities. 

“With new leadership comes new and exciting ideas,” said Xie. “That’s how change and innovation happens. Leading the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education is a great opportunity to contribute alongside new leaders who are renowned in their respective fields. Together, we can establish a new culture at MSU.”

Select Scholarly Appointments

  • Associate editor – The Internet and Higher Education, 2021-present
  • Associate editor – Frontiers in Psychology, 2021-present
  • Changjiang Scholar Chaired Professor – School of Educational Information Technology, Central China Normal University, 2017-2020
  • Co-Program Chair – Division C (Learning & Instruction), American Educational Research Association (AERA), 2022-2024
  • Section chair, Division C, Section 3.A and 3.B
  • Chair – Design and Technology Special Interest Group, AERA
  • Chair – Instructional Technology Special Interest Group, AERA

*Hartlep, N. D., Ball, D. & Wells, K. E. (2022) “Introduction” in Asian/American Scholars of Education: 21st Century Pedagogies, Perspectives and Experiences (2nd Edition, p. 12). Peter Lang. DOI: 10.3276/b1819.  

NOTE: Xie’s academic journey was featured in this book (Chapter 15), as well as in an academic journal: Manriki, I & Liyong, W. (2019) “Learner Engagement in Digital Learning: Linking Learning Motivation and Learning Performance – An Interview with Professor Kui Xie.” Modern Education Distance Research (2019, 04).