Michelle H. Wilkerson

My work explores how youth learn with and about scientific computing tools such as simulations, data visualizations, and modeling environments.

As part of this, I conduct research and design software that allows youth to author simulations and visualizations by building on familiar expressive activities such as storytelling or sketching. I am especially interested in giving learners experience with these tools in ways that are tightly connected to, and therefore feasible within, the existing K-12 curriculum. This means I consult with teachers, learners, and after-school professionals at every stage of design to make sure the tools we create are usable, and focus not only on the design of practical materials but also of learning theory that can inform pedagogy and research more broadly. My designs, research and analyses are informed by theories of learning that illuminate (1) the rich and dynamic nature of knowledge, (2) the importance of empowering learners to share their own ideas using the languages of science and mathematics, and (3) the critical role that community and culture play in the development of productive learning environments.


I joined the Graduate School of Education in January 2016. Before moving to Berkeley, I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Tufts University from 2011-2015. I lead the Computational Representations in Education (CoRE) research group, and teach classes in science education and educational research.

Wilkerson, M. H., Andrews, C., Shaban, Y., Laina, V., & Gravel, B. E. (2016). What's the technology for? Teacher attention and pedagogical goals in a modeling-focused professional development workshop. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 27(1), 1-27. doi: 10.1007/s10972-016-9453-8 [Springer]

Wilkerson-Jerde, M. H. & Wilensky, U. (2015). Patterns, probabilities, and people: Making sense of quantitative change in complex systems. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 24(2), 204-251. doi: 10.1080/10508406.2014.976647 [PDF][Taylor & Francis]

Wilkerson-Jerde, M. H., Gravel, B. E., & Macrander, C. A. (2015). Exploring shifts in middle school learners’ modeling activity while generating drawings, animations, and simulations of molecular diffusion. Journal of Science Education and Technology24(2-3), 204-251. doi: 10.1007/s10956-014-9497-5. [PDF][Springer]

Wilkerson-Jerde, M. H., Wagh, A. & Wilensky, U. (2015). Balancing curricular and pedagogical needs in computational construction kits: Lessons from the DeltaTick project. Science Education, 99(3), 465-499. doi: 10.1002/sce.21157 [Wiley]

Wilkerson-Jerde, M. H. (2015). Open peer commentary: Locating the learner in collaborative constructionist design. Constructivist Foundations, 10(3), 315-316. [Univ. Vienna]

Bautista, A., Wilkerson-Jerde, M. H., Tobin, R., & Brizuela, B. M. (2014). Mathematics teachers’ ideas about mathematical models: A diverse landscape. PNA, 9(1). doi: 10481/33231. [HTML]

Wilkerson-Jerde, M. H. (2014). Construction, categorization, and consensus: student generated computational artifacts as a context for disciplinary reflection.Educational Technology Research & Development62(1), 99-121. doi: 10.1007/s11423-013-9327-0. [PDF][Springer]

Wilkerson-Jerde, M. & Wilensky, U. (2011). How do mathematicians learn math?: Resources and acts for constructing and understanding mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 78(1), 21-43. doi: 10.1007/s10649-011-9306-5. [Springer]

Stonedahl, F., Wilkerson-Jerde, M. & Wilensky, U. (2011). MAgICS: Toward a multi-agent introduction to computer science. In M. Beer, M. Fasli, and D. Richards (Eds.)Multi-Agent Systems for Education and Interactive Entertainment: Design, Use and Experience. IGI Global. pp. 1-25. [IGI Link][Google Books]

Interests and Professional Affiliations

After-school Programs

Computer-Mediated Learning

Mathematics Education

Science Education

Simulation Learning Environments

Teacher Education

Technology and Schools

Classroom Learning Environments


PhD., Northwestern University, Learning Sciences

B. A., University of San Diego, Mathematics

B. A., University of San Diego, Diversified Liberal Arts (Education)

Contact Information

Office #4413

Graduate School of Education
Berkeley Way West Building (BWW)
UC Berkeley
2121 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94720-1670