René F. Kizilcec
Ph.D. candidate, Dept. of Communication, Stanford University
Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow
Co-founder, Stanford Lytics Lab

Office: Barnum Center, Room 146, 505 Lausen Mall

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

René Kizilcec recently defended his Ph.D. dissertation in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, where he is a Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow and co-founding member of the interdisciplinary Lytics Lab.

His research focuses on the role of social psychological factors in innovative technologies. In particular, he is interested in the psychological challenges to realizing the potential of digital environments for diverse and global audiences. René’s research has examined processes of social identity threat, self-regulation, computer-mediated communication, and cultural psychology. Most of his work uses longitudinal randomized controlled trials in the field to rigorously evaluate how to increase performance and reduce inequalities with scalable and cost-effective psychological interventions. He has conducted experiments with thousands of participants in online courses to (1) close the online global achievement gap between members of more and less developed countries, (2) support goal pursuit across cultural contexts with self-regulation strategies, and (3) enhance the online learning experience by strategically placing social cues in videos. He leverages techniques from data mining, machine learning, and natural language processing to examine individual behavior and motivation, reveal heterogeneous treatment effects, and inform user-centered design.

Kizilcec has also conducted research on social influence in online communication behavior on social media working with Facebook’s Core Data Science group. Before graduate school, he worked as a web designer and developer for a few years.

He also holds degrees in Statistics (M.S., Stanford University) and in Philosophy and Economics (B.A., University College London).


Stanford News video on Science article, “Closing Global Achievement Gaps in MOOCs”:

A summary of earlier work on behavior and motivation in online courses:

A talk on Market Segmentation in Online Interactions Based on Motivation:

A conference presentation on “Deconstructing Disengagement” at the 2013 Learning Analytics & Knowledge conference:


A Sense of Belonging on Inside Higher Ed (by Carl Straumsheim)

Brief interventions help online learners persist with coursework, Stanford research finds on Stanford News (by Alex Shashkevich)

Moocs data offers promise of perfect teaching on BBC Future (by Helen Knight), 30 Oct 2013.

Learning analytics at Stanford takes huge leap forward with MOOCs on Stanford News (by Ruth F. Mackay) and featured on ACM Tech News

Not All Online Students Are the Same: A Summary of Stanford’s MOOC User Study on MOOC News and Reviews (by John Duhring)