The Learning Sciences Graduate Student (LSGS) Conference is an event for emerging voices in the Learning Sciences and related fields to share and develop their ideas. With the aim of expanding apprenticeship, conference attendees have opportunities to foster a sense of community among graduate students and faculty across Learning Sciences programs and gain fresh perspectives on their research.
This was all our first time to the Learning Sciences Graduate Student Conference. For all of us, it was a space to exchange ideas, present preliminary work, and hear about where other scholars throughout the field were going. We hope that this summary of conference highlights can be a resource for our LSHD colleagues and help provide insights to what senior and emerging Learning Sciences scholars are thinking and writing about. We are also deeply grateful to Dr. Phil Bell & Dr. Sue Nolan for helping to make our engagement with the incoming generation of Learning Science scholars possible. Through the conference workshops, presentations, and keynotes, we were able to see our collective work at UW moving the field as well. We are so grateful to have been able to present our scholarship, grow from peer feedback, and rock the UW CoE Learning Sciences & Human Development department with pride at LSGS Conference 2018.
Dr. Noel Enyedy’s keynote emphasized the direction that the field needs to follow and the recent “political turn.” His slide show highlighted some of the scholars who are at the forefront of the work. This theme was also reflected in a number of student presentations where they referred to this “turn” and how they saw their own work contributing to increasing equity in the learning sciences. He urged new students to be prepared to throw out their favorite theory or feature, try on other theories to examine failures, and follow the stories that emerge.
Conference sessions highlighted the varied types of data graduate students collected, as well as the multiple ways of analyzing that data. This encouraged graduate students to consider their work with and through different analytic lenses, and the contributions they hoped to make to the field of learning sciences. In her closing keynote, Dr. Susan Jurow argued for the power of understanding own biographies as being an important lens for analysis, leading to a “radical openness and possibility” in the learning sciences.
Jooyoung Seo from Penn State presented on his research “Accessibility and Inclusivity in Making: Engaging Learners with All Abilities in Making Activities” that explores how engaging youth with visual impairments in the redesign of making focused tools (such as littleBits) can lead to better accessibility. The first phase of his research engaged youth with visual impairments in identifying the limitations of many kits meant to encourage making and in the second phase the youth will redesign the tools. As a visually impaired researcher, he explained how tools made to support visual impairments have limited usability because they are rarely designed by the people experiencing visual impairments.