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Physics Education Research Conference 2012 Plenary Speakers

Plenary Speakers

Megan Bang, University of Washington

Megan Bang is an assistant professor in Learning Sciences and Human Development at University of Washington's College of Education. Bang received her Ph.D. in 2008 from the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy. Her dissertation explored the kinds of explanations, arguments, and attentional habits Native American children are exposed to and learn in community settings as they relate to school science learning. Her current research follows this work, examining the ways in which culture – understood as a diverse repertoire of practices individuals and community engage in – impact learning, development, and teaching in science education. Towards these ends, Bang is engaged in three primary lines of work, including: 1) the study of learning and development in everyday contexts across cultural communities using interdisciplinary approaches and methods including basic cognitive studies, field studies, ethnography, and indigenous and critical methodologies, 2) design research – in her case community-based design research – that builds learning environments from community-based epistemologies; and as a result of 2, 3) the study of child and teacher learning in novel environments. The combination of these three strands of scholarship work towards issues of equity and transformation in teaching and learning.

Indigo Esmonde, University of Toronto

Indigo Esmonde is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Esmonde's research is situated at the intersection of two fields of study: the learning sciences, and equity studies. Broadly speaking, researchers in the learning sciences consider the process of learning in a wide variety of contexts, while those in equity studies consider the ways in which schools and other institutional contexts perpetuate inequitable relations of power in society, and how to subvert and challenge these injustices. Dr. Esmonde's research at the intersection of these two fields has focused on learning mathematics across a variety of contexts, both inside and outside schools, and considers issues of power and identity in mathematics teaching and learning. This research is framed primarily through sociocultural and cultural-historical theories of learning, and draws from a variety of research methods, including ethnographic, discourse analysis and conversation analysis, and video interaction analysis.

Kris D. Gutiérrez, University of Colorado at Boulder

Kris D. Gutiérrez is Professor of Learning Sciences and Literacy and holds the Inaugural Provost's Chair at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  She is also Professor Emerita of Social Research Methodology at GSE&IS at UCLA.  Gutiérrez is a member of the National Academy of Education and is the Past President of the American Educational Research Association and the National Conference on Research on Language and Literacy. Gutiérrez was recently appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be a member of the National Board for the Institute of Education Sciences.  Her research examines learning in designed learning environments, with particular attention to students from non-dominant communities and English Learners. Her work on Third Spaces examines the affordances of hybrid and syncretic approaches to literacy, new media literacies, and STEM learning and the re-mediation of functional systems of learning. Her work in social design experiments seeks to leverage students' everyday concepts and practices to ratchet up expansive forms of learning.  Gutiérrez has used her expertise to improve the educational condition of immigrant and underserved students in out of school and formal schooling settings and to design effective models for expansive learning and teacher preparation. For over 15 years, Professor Gutiérrez served as the principal investigator and director of an after-school computer learning club for low-income and immigrant children (UCLinks, Las Redes) and for over ten years was the Director of the UCLA Migrant Scholars Leadership Program, a residential summer academic program for high school student from migrant farmworker backgrounds. Currently, she directs El Pueblo Mágico, a STEM oriented change laboratory for K-5 children that focuses on design and building computational thinking.  These programs have been touted as exemplary models of excellence and transformative change.

Reed Stevens, Northwestern University

Reed Stevens is a Professor of Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. His research examines and compares cognitive activity in a range of settings including classrooms, workplaces, and science museums. On the basis of this comparative work, he is exploring new ways to conceptualize cognition and organize learning environments. Stevens' specific interests include how mathematical activity contributes to various settings and how technology mediates thinking and learning. His multidisciplinary research draws on cognitive science, interactionist traditions, and the social studies of science and technology. To understand learners' naturally-occurring activities, he collects audio-video records of people working and analyzes them with a variety of methods adapted from cognitive science, science studies, and ethnomethodology/conversation analysis, in addition to long-term ethnographic fieldwork and interviewing. He also designs curriculum, activities, and technologies, including Video Traces software that allows people to collect digital video clips and annotate them with talk or gestures.


Noah D. Finkelstein, University of Colorado-Boulder

David Hammer, University of Maryland


Leslie J. Atkins, California State University Chico

Hunter G. Close, Texas State University – San Marcos