Research Experience

In my research, I am committed to building bridges between learning sciences and design scholarship by advancing design for learning and theoretical explanations of how people learn in school and out-of-school settings. The aim of this intersection is to contribute to identifying and addressing implicit deficit mindset within (STEM) education. My theory of design is based on participatory design of educational technologies (e.g., Leinonen, Keune, Veermans, & Toikkanen, 2016). My theoretical commitments are constructionist as I focus on how design experiences result in “objects-to-think-with” that are at once material objects and internalized mental structures (Papert, 1992). I fuse these perspectives with a posthumanist stance (Barad, 2003; Kuby, 2017), which questions the assumptions of contemporary learning theories to investigate the active role materials play in what people learn.

Selected Research Projects

Fabric-based Computing is the inquiry into how posthumanist perspectives advance the understanding of computer science learning in order to broaden participation in the context of matrix- based fiber crafts. Thus far, the work has aligned two fiber crafts (i.e., weaving and sewing) with computer science concepts and showed that materials are non-neutral drivers of how computational learning unfolds. In other words, materials matter in how computational concepts are learned and experienced. The work has also presented the usefulness of posthumanist perspectives for capturing learning as physical change over time. Fabric-based computing has been supported through a range of awards and scholarship, including the University Distinguished PhD Dissertation Award 2020, the AERA SIG ALT/LS Best student paper, and AnitaBorg.Org’s Systers Pass It On Award. Project lead: Anna Keune.

Re-Crafting Mathematics is an NSF funded project that aims to understand how traditional feminine craft practices can improve learning outcomes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. As graduate research assistant my work focuses on ethnographic inquires of female crafting circles and the design and investigation of curricular activities that foster math concepts across crafts. Co-PIs: Drs Kylie Peppler and Melissa Gresalfi.

The Maker Ed Open Portfolio Project investigated how openly networked portfolios of youth projects can reframe assessment. As the lead graduate researchers, I worked on our second Research Brief series, which presents how open portfolios rupture assumptions of traditional portfolio assessment, shares makerspace portfolio practices, investigates youth motivations for portfolios, and more. This project is supported by the Moore Foundation. PI: Dr. Kylie Peppler. More: Research Brief Series 1 and Research Brief Series 2.

The Design Playshop Project developed a curricular model that deepens learning through making and integrates design, play, collaboration, and technology in early childhood learning. In 2013, we setup a pre-school makerspace to explore and design the Design Playshop model using Squishy Circuits, a toolkit for creating electronic circuits using playdough as a conductive material. Since then, I have analyzed video data of children’s crafting to understand the role of materials in their learning. PIs: Drs Karen Wohlwend and Kylie Peppler.

DML Commons is a connected course that aims to convene a community around topics in digital media and learning. I was part of a team that created two courses in 2015: (a) Professional Pathways was a place for emergent scholars to create and share resources towards the development of a scholarly community; and (b) Design Research aimed to bridge research and practice by exploring key aspects and questions of design-based research. The course was part of the DML Hub and supported by the MacArthur Foundation. PIs: Drs Mimi Ito and Kylie Peppler.

The Learning Design – Design for Learning project aimed to expand design thinking for learning design and the development process of technological learning tools. As a design researcher, my work focused on the participatory design of Square1, a collection of tangible computational learning devices designed for collaborative learning. For participatory design workshops, I collaborated with techGyrls of the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland as part of a visiting scholar position at UC Berkeley. WP-lead: Dr. Teemu Leinonen.

Innovative Technologies for an Engaging Classroom (iTEC)
 was a pan-European and EU-funded project focused on the design of the future classroom. As the lead designer and design researcher, my work at the Aalto University, surfaced design opportunities to advance educational technology. We created three software prototypes that were used in over 1000 classrooms and developed a participatory professional development model for educators to design interest-driven learning activities (Edukata). The model is based on a Scandinavian participatory design methodology. WP-lead: Dr. Teemu Leinonen