Danielle Keifert Wins Award at International Learning Sciences Conference

Danielle Keifert Wins Award at International Learning Sciences Conference

Danielle Keifert

Learning sciences doctoral student Danielle Keifert won the award for best student paper at a recent international conference in learning sciences. Her paper documents the ways in which very young children encounter opportunities for scientific inquiry in their everyday lives.

“Understanding these early childhood practices is a necessary first step in drawing on these practices as resources for science inquiry learning,” says Keifert. She presented her paper entitled “Young Children’s Everyday Inquiry: A Field Study of a Young Girl’s Play Across Contexts” at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, held in Sydney, Australia, in July.

Using approximately 35 hours of interactional video data of a two-year-old girl in home and preschool settings, Keifert described the girl’s inquiry practices at home, especially how she orchestrates adult support for inquiry, and how she draws on her home inquiry practice in school. Keifert suggests ways for conceiving of each setting as providing ways to support science inquiry among very young children.

“I’m interested in contributing to our understanding of children’s movement across contexts,” says Keifert. “Specifically, I want to better understand how children’s experiences with science and inquiry across all the settings in which they spend time contribute to their overall science learning. I’d like to elucidate the mechanisms underlying changes in children’s participation in science inquiry as they move across contexts in the hopes of making it easier for teachers to identify and draw upon children’s vast resources for science learning.”

“We have established that children have these resources and that they can be capitalized upon for formal domain learning. However, the theory describing how children move across contexts and the accompanying transformations of their practices is lacking. As I help to develop this theory, I believe implications will emerge for designing opportunities for learning that position children as competent practitioners of inquiry, setting the stage for formal science learning.”

The International Conference of the Learning Sciences serves as a forum for academics in learning sciences, an interdisciplinary field that originated at Northwestern University in 1991. At the conference Keifert also participated in a symposium along with professor Reed Stevens and fellow students Lauren Penney, Pryce Davis, Siri Mehus and Rich Lehrer. The symposium discussed “Everyday Interactions and Activities: Field Studies of Early Learning Across Settings.”

Keifert is a fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences. This doctoral training program is designed to develop a cadre of scholars trained to conduct relevant and reliable research on pressing policy and practice issues in education.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 9/13/12