Engagement & Learning

Engagement & Learning

Psychology and educational research have long created a sharp divide between affect and cognition, the hot and the cold of learning. However, the world is not so easily divided, and the two influence each other in important ways over the pathways a learning might follow. Efficacy and self-efficacy are loosely coupled. Interest and opportunity-to-learn are similarly bi-directionally loosely coupled. Through empirical deep dives into the nature of both motivational constructs and learning processes, we build new accounts of learning towards the STEAM disciplines unfolding over the scale of months to years.

Activation Lab

Activation Lab

The Science Learning Activation Lab is a national research and design effort to learn and demonstrate how to activate children in ways that ignite persistent engagement in science learning and inquiry. Led by LRDC and the Lawrence Hall of Science, the ActLab is conducting research to identify the characteristics of late elementary and middle school aged children that are predictive of successful science learning and future participation in science, as well as to design learning environments that promote such outcomes. Our research uncovers the elements of an activated learner, the trajectory of predicted outcomes, and the learning experiences that support or maintain activation. Current theorizing has found four dimensions of activation: Fascination in science, Valuing science knowledge and ways of thinking, Competency beliefs for science learning situations, and Scientific sensemaking

Digital Badges

Digital Badges

Digital badges represent a new vision of learning that combines the hot and cold of learning. On the one hand, badges represent what learners actually can do, based on rich evidence that is more authentic than test performance alone. On the other hand, badges shape learner motivations, potentially in positive and negative ways. Despite all the attention to badges for a half-decade, very little is known empirically about their validity or their affects. We are studying and refining a badge ecosystem embedded with an online teaching environment for formal and informal robotics instruction that seeks to teach computational thinking skills: cs2n.org

Interventions That Matter

Interventions That Matter

We leverage carefully structured access to extensive longitudinal institutional data to uncover the long-term effects of class-based interventions in large introductory biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology classes. What early experiences matter for advanced coursework and degree completion? Do the factors vary by demographic characteristics? Do different interventions implemented across classrooms interact with each other in positive or negative ways? We are also adding extensive surveying about student motivation and beliefs about the nature of productive science learning behaviors to unpack these longer term effects.