Inspiring people to live more sustainability is a complex, interdisciplinary challenge, but one that I’m prepared to meet thanks to my training in the Learning Sciences. While at UW-Madison, I designed virtual environments for people to grapple with environmental situations that were too expensive, dangerous, or complicated to deal with in real life. Using Land Science, people began making connections between their personal decisions and the impacts on social, environmental, and economic systems. In my role as Manager of Environmental Sustainability Education and Engagement at the California Academy of Sciences, I use my knowledge of how people learn about complex systems and my skills in designing and evaluating experiences to tap into people’s values and identities in order to inspire them to take individual and collective actions that sustain our global food, water, and energy systems.
While at UW's Learning Sciences program, I was focused on designing interactions between learners, software, mentors, and peers to provide opportunities for the developmental and measurement of professional ways of thinking -- complexes of understanding, justifications, and identity often overlooked in traditional testing. This has helped me immensely in by current role as Director of Assessment for Kidaptive, an early learning educational analysis company. At Kidaptive we are building an adaptive, personalized, learning environment that brings together detailed analysis of what learners are engaged in during digital and non-digital challenges with learner competency models, based on individual and group performances, to provide young learners with optimal levels of challenge in digital games and activities with parents. The experience of being immersed in the theoretical, technical, and measurement aspects of learning and assessment during my time int he Learning Sciences program was invaluable in helping prepare me for a role working with software engineers, business developers, and psychometricians to build a learning platform that helps kids and their grownups around the world.
My time in the UW-Madison Learning Sciences program helped me realize my interests in designing innovative curricula and to develop the skills I need to be a successful academic. Because of the immersive cognitive apprenticeship style of the program, I worked closely with my advisor and colleagues. I learned not only writing and analysis skills but also the ways of thinking, being, and communicating that characterize academia. This training prepared me for a smooth transition to a research postdoc at Northwestern, and I am certain I will continue to draw on my experiences from the UW-Madison Learning Sciences program in my future positions.
Joe’s research involves studying interest development and its impact on learning in STEM education, focusing on the role of learning environments, feedback, cognitive development and influence of social constructs and identities. This work examines designing scaffolded instruction from teachers, other students, and educational technologies to best meet the needs of students at different phases of interest development. This work is conducted in classrooms, homes, out-of-school STEM education settings, and in lab based intelligent tutoring systems using data collected via observation, interview, survey and eye-tracking.
As a software developer for UW-Madison's Division of Information Technology, I design and develop custom software for teaching, learning, and research on campus. I'll often draw from my experience sin the Learning Sciences program to better understand the needs of my clients and to shape how technology is used to support teaching, learning, and research at the university.
As a faculty associate in the Department of Surgery, my Ed Psych degree, with a focus in Learning Sciences, allows me to apply theories of learning to understand how people become competent doctors and how we can support this process to facilitate quality patient care. The training that I received in assessment as well as quantitative and qualitative research methods has been invaluable in allowing me to investigate and make meaningful contributions in the field of medical education.