Alumni of the PhD program in Learning Sciences are respected as outstanding researchers at universities, government agencies and private companies. Meet a few of the many remarkable graduates of the Learning Sciences doctoral program, and learn about the value of their training.
Founder of Digital Youth Network, YOUMedia; Associate Professor, DePaul University
Nichole Pinkard founded the Digital Youth Network (DYN), a groundbreaking after-school and in-school program that provides guidance with the latest digital technology to Chicago teens. In collaboration with the Chicago Public Library, DYN developed YOUmedia, a model digital literacy program where mentors work with high school students to create movies, video games, music, graphics and stories.
Pinkard, who sees digital literacy as nothing less than essential, is an associate professor at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media.
Associate Professor, University of California- Berkeley Director, Embodied Design Research Laboratory (EDRL)
On my first fall 2000 morning as a graduate student in the Learning Sciences program at Northwestern University, I learned that the founders of this budding field viewed it as based on three strands: cognition, design and social context. The order in which LS grads parroted this trio was immediately diagnostic of their subjective leanings, and my own order, above, is telling of my personal perplexity that social context might have anything to do with mathematical thinking, which I was then still viewing quite Platonically. Others placed cognition last, or design, perceiving these aspects as insignificant to their own perspectives. And yet all of us eventually came to realize the inextricable reciprocities of these strands -- individuals learn via participating in technologically constituted sociocultural activities. I owe so much to my mentors at SESP for insisting that I develop a well-rounded view of teaching and learning, and I strive to instill this triadic orientation in my own students.How To Make Math Meaningful (Edutopia)
Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin -Madison
During my time at Northwestern, I had direct and sustained access to all of the faculty, and a tight cohort of PhD students who are the up-and-coming leaders in our field. The Learning Sciences program at Northwestern is one of the few programs that treats the science of learning as a field in and of itself; understanding the cognitive and sociocultural foundations of learning and designing learning environments that take advantage of these insights are the cornerstones of what it means to be at Northwestern. I have found that my perspective is in high demand as more and more educators have come to value the science of learning.Art and stories (TEDxMadtown)
Assistant Professor Graduate School of Education, Stanford University
I really enjoyed my years in the Learning Sciences program at Northwestern – amazing faculty, great infrastructure, and a fantastic and diverse group of students. But every year that passes makes me realize how incredibly lucky I was. Northwestern has a unique program that strikes the perfect balance between theory, design, and research methods, and it attracts students that are as smart as they are creative – I could not ask for more from a graduate program.One Fabrication Lab Per School: The FabLab@School Project
Professor Department of Education, University of California - Los Angeles
The Learning Sciences program was still new when I arrived in 1993, and the conscious effort from faculty and students to figure out what we were all about generated an intense sense of intellectual openness and purpose. The place was full of the smartest people I had ever hung out with, and we were all full of ambition to improve schools and build better explanations of learning and teaching. The LS program taught me to think and to imagine possibilities for schools and the people who move through them. I can't imagine doing what I'm doing now without that experience.
Senior Researcher Exploratorium, San Francisco
The Learning Sciences informs all aspects of my research at the Exploratorium, from the theoretical underpinnings of studies I design to the methods I use in their execution to the data analysis and result implications. The experience I gained with the design-based research methodology and an understanding of learning interactions also help me in developing and evaluating visitors’ experiences at our museum.
Director, Inquirium LLC
Inquirium was born in 2001 as a direct outgrowth of the Learning Sciences program at Northwestern. My colleagues and I – all Learning Sciences PhD students during the '90s – wanted to create an organization where we could bring to a wider audience the same sort of cutting-edge, learner- and teacher-centered, research-informed technologies that we learned to build during our years at Northwestern.
Since then, every ounce of our work for museums, zoos, non-profits and university research groups has been informed by our training as learning scientists. Our process of applying knowledge about how people learn to iterative design and production is highly unique among design firms and greatly valued by our clients.
Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Technology
Camillia Matuk is assistant professor of educational communication and technology at New York University, where she directs a lab group called Research in Design for Discovery within Learning Experiences (RIDDLE). In addition to her PhD in learning sciences from Northwestern, Matuk has an MSc in biomedical communications from the University of Toronto, a graduate certificate in 3D computer animation from Sheridan College and a BSc in biological sciences from the University of Windsor.
Matuk researches technologies for collaborative learning and instruction. For example, she has developed online tools to help middle and high school students document, share and understand ideas during science inquiry. She also designs teacher professional development and studies how technology-enhanced materials can support teachers in customizing instruction. In another line of work, Matuk investigates how people understand visual representations of science.
Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of Michigan
Enid Rosario-Ramos is an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Michigan. Her research explores the connection between adolescents’ development of literacy skills and their participation in community building. Rosario-Ramos has won two top awards from the American Education Research Association — a Distinguished Dissertation Award and the Frank Pajares Award for a scholarly journal article.
Rosario-Ramos is currently working on research funded by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation to understand the development of civic involvement among minority youth in urban areas. Regarding young people affected by poverty, violence and educational inequality, she says, "I believe that the need for social changes that address the living conditions of these youths can motivate youths' reading and understanding of different texts that discuss the social structures that create these situations."