Victor Lee (PhD09) Wins Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Achievement

Victor Lee (PhD09) Wins Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Achievement

Victor Lee

Victor Lee (PhD09) won the Jan Hawkins Award for early career achievement presented by the American Education Research Association (AERA) in 2013. An assistant professor at Utah State University, he is a learning scientist and instructional technologist.

The Jan Hawkins Award, presented by the learning and instruction division of the AERA, is given for early-career contributions to humanistic research and scholarship in learning technologies. The award recognizes a body of work that reveals powerful new ways to think about technologies in education and uses innovative research to discover the impact of those technologies.

Lee, a graduate of the SESP Learning Sciences program, won the award for his innovative work in support of K-12 teaching and learning. Recently he has been working with elementary school students to use tracking technology for exploring children's physical activities as objects of study.

For example, a recent project engages students in authentic scientific inquiry by using three-axis accelerometers to track students’ movements throughout the day. “Students work together to prepare and analyze various visualizations of those data,” which is similar to the work scientists do as part of a broader "quantified self" and "lifelogging" movement that involves tracking daily activities with technology, according to Lee. I'm trying to understand if a version of this is something that kids can do and if this can be a way for children to learn STEM content and engage in STEM practices.”

Other noteworthy work includes using heart rate monitors with young students to test changes in heart rates during different activities and make interesting comparisons. For example, one class recruited teachers and staff members to see how heart rate differed with age. “This year, I have been co-teaching in two fifth-grade classrooms so that, in partnership with the teachers and the school, we could develop sensible and developmentally appropriate activities that could be done with all of the complexities associated with school. We are currently having kids get high-speed video of some of their movements so that they can analyze what their bodies are doing during seemingly mundane things,” Lee explains.

Lee’s award also honors his work with collaborators at Utah State University, University of Utah, University of Colorado at Boulder and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research to see what it takes for school districts to adopt a tool that helps connect teachers to free, high-quality online resources for teaching secondary science. “Our collaborators have worked closely with teachers and school districts to create and test a tool that aligns with adopted curricula and some of the demands that these teachers face. Currently, we are trying to understand which districts adopt and why by talking directly with folks at the district office and with the teachers themselves,” Lee says.

In addition to his innovative research, Lee also is known for working closely with graduate students and having impact as a mentor. “Jan Hawkins was well known for being an outstanding and nurturing mentor,” says Lee. Hawkins was a developmental psychologist respected for her humanistic approach to using technology in K-12 learning environments.

Beth Foley, the dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University says of Lee’s award, “I am not surprised, of course, because Victor’s professional contributions are consistently outstanding. Still, I am delighted to see that his national peer group — which includes the top educational technologists in the world — are recognizing his work as innovative and important.”

Prior to his post at Utah State, Lee was a graduate fellow with the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Curriculum Materials in Science, a recipient of the American Educational Research Association's Special Interest Group for Advanced Technologies for Learning Best Student Paper Award, and a recipient of a National Science Foundation Career Award. He previously served as chair of AERA's Special Interest Group for Advanced Technologies for Learning. 

Lee credits both the School of Education and Social Policy and its Learning Sciences program for “providing a great foundation for me and encouraging me to do some rigorous and bold thinking.”

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 4/16/13