Abraham Lo Wins AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship

Abraham Lo Wins AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship

Abe Lo

Learning Sciences doctoral candidate Abraham Lo received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research for 2014-15. This fellowship, which involved a nationally competitive selection process, recognizes the quality of Lo’s research and his potential to contribute to education improvement.

Lo’s dissertation work focuses on developing methods to help teachers better support students’ meaningful engagement in scientific practices to construct richer understandings of science.

“How can we support kids meaningfully as they’re engaging in scientific practices?” Lo asks. His answer relates to creating opportunities for students to construct and evaluate each other’s knowledge using the same practices of scientists. To ensure that their use of the practices is meaningful, he focuses on what guides students’ engagement in the practices, such as whether they are thinking about how and why things happen in the world and what resources they can draw upon to justify their accounts.

“We need to transform the paradigm that teachers use and shift to having the kids constructing their own knowledge,” he says.

In response to the new Next Generation Science Standards, Lo’s dissertation work addresses the need to help teachers develop new practices to impact their students’ learning.  His aim is for students to learn science in more authentic and meaningful ways. “Student understanding is richer if the students are constructing and defending it with their peers,” says Lo.

Lo credits SESP and the Learning Sciences program with seeking to shift classroom practices. Through partnering, professional development, curriculum development and networking, teachers are introduced to new methods. For example, he sees impact in the School’s work on teacher noticing and video clubs for teachers.

As a student at SESP, Lo has appreciated the opportunity to work with multiple universities and K-12 schools, as well as with both practicing and pre-service teachers.

Also at Northwestern, he was selected for the Multidisciplinary Program in Education Sciences, a pre-doctoral program that provides training for rigorous research on critical education issues. He also was chosen for the International Society of the Learning Sciences Doctoral Consortium, where mentors provided feedback on his dissertation research.

AERA has confidence in Lo’s ability to contribute to education. “The Selection Committee is very impressed with your scholarly achievements, the quality of your proposed research, and your potential to contribute to education research,” writes George L. Wimberly, AERA director of social justice and professional development, in a letter announcing Lo’s fellowship.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 7/3/14