CREATE Science Speaker: Paula Hooper


Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


252 Erickson Hall

Title: Noticing equity and pedagogy within constructionist learning environments: Implications for making and the learning sciences


In the current national context, there are opportunities to explicitly address how theories and practices born of constructionism might achieve their potential to address issues of equity and inclusion in both formal and informal STEM learning environments. In this talk, I will discuss affordances of hybrid views of learning that connect constructionism with sociocultural perspectives for equity oriented research and practice. As a learning scientist and practitioner who specializes in STEM, I argue that this kind of hybridity can foreground the learning needs and experiences of students who are historically underrepresented in STEM fields. I suggest that noticing and leveraging cultural context within the design and implementation of constructionist learning environments is important for equity because it opens up new epistemological and pedagogical possibilities for learners. Illustrations of this hybridity will be presented through examples of research on the emergence of learners’ understandings of computational ideas through creative expression within environments where cultural beliefs and practices are explicitly addressed. I will also share examples from a new line of research on the emergence of STEM ideas within activities designed to support inquiry through inter-related processes of making that include physical, digital and fabricated domains.

About the speaker:

Paula is an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. Her most recent publication, in the Harvard Ed Review, focuses on equity in making spaces. Her research and teaching addresses uses of digital media to support STEM learning in both informal and formal learning settings from a sociocultural perspective. She is also interested in the design and facilitation of online communication and cyberlearning projects that complement STEM professional development.  

Paula holds a PhD in Media Arts and Sciences with a focus on epistemology and learning with digital media. She has been an elementary classroom teacher; has worked on the design and teaching of inquiry-oriented science professional development experiences for K-8 teachers, administrators and museum educators; and worked with youth in informal settings on robotics and using digital design fabrication for their creative activism. Paula has worked for the Exploratorium, TERC, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Shaker Heights public schools. She has served on advisory boards for Science Museum of Minnesota and the Technology Committee of the American Educational Research Association, and was a Warren Weaver Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation.