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  • Gabriela T. Richard

Named a 2018 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow!

On April 24th, I received the exciting news that I was selected to be a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. According to the acceptance letter, "this program encourages outstanding researchers at the postdoctoral level ... to pursue critical education research projects" and is considered "a strong expression of the organizations’ confidence in your potential contribution to the knowledge, understanding, and improvement of education."

The competitive award for early career scholars typically accepts 30 finalists amongst hundreds of highly qualified applicants. During the fellow year, fellows can buyout their teaching and service time in order to deeply engage in their research.

News of the announcement can be found on the NAEd/Spencer site. Details about my fellowship project can be found below.

Project Title: Cultivating Inclusive Ecologies of Learning through Making and Gaming:

Interrogating Culturally-Sustaining Pedagogical Approaches and Technology-specific Material Affordances for Learning and Diverse Engagement

Project Abstract: Despite influential theories and designs, research and practice continues to face significant questions around key crucial relationships between the scale of influence of informal or interest-driven technology activities to lifelong pursuits, and the complexities involved in scaffolding culturally-sustaining, equitable and accessible STEM learning in informal making and gaming contexts. For instance, youth-supportive content creation communities, such as Scratch, have become increasing critiqued for agnostic design, while commercial content creation platforms that have traditionally operated from content agnostic positions have become increasingly leveraged for formal and informal education. The proposed research for this project will integrate this collective body of work to interrogate how culturally-situated tools and culturally-responsive practices are (or are not) designed within wide-reaching, informal learning ecologies around making and gaming, how learners respond to those designs, and how we can bring effective applications from more formally-influenced environments to these naturalistic, interest-driven ones. Richard will utilize naturalistic observational techniques, mixed methods and iterative design-based research techniques to (1) better understand the ways that learners integrate playing and making in their naturalistic learning ecologies, by utilizing livestreaming as a participatory learning and teaching tool; (2) interrogate the affordances and limitations for culturally-sustaining practices in informal learning, including in naturalistic learning ecologies; and (3) explore alternative models for fostering inclusivity by utilizing and reframing implicit values in digital media and content creation tools. Results will provide groundwork for scalable interventions aimed at designing informal learning environments and systems for socioculturally diverse and prosocially supportive computational participation and STEM pathways.

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