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.