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Learning Sciences

Graduate Student Association
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Learning Sciences student community

Current LS majors

Below, you'll find information about current graduate students in Indiana University's graduate program in the Learning Sciences.

Andrade, Luis Alejandro 
Barnas, Martina
Barnes, Jacqueline
Bender, Sophia
Bryan, Branden Jace

Downton, Michael
Freygang, Thea
Glosson, Diane
Gordon, Leon
Itow, Rebecca

Keene, Johanna
Li, Yuhan
McKay, Christian
McWilliams, Jenna
Pettyjohn, Patrick

Rehak, Andrea (Andi)
Saleh, Asmalina
Santo, Rafi
Solomou, Maria
Walsh, John


Faculty Mentor: Joshua Danish
Email: laandrad@umail.iu.edu

Luis is a first year PhD student in Learning Sciences. Luis holds a BA in Anthropology (Universidad de los Andes, 2003) and holds a Masters in Education (Universidad Javeriana 2009). He is currently working with Dr. Danish’s research projects about the development of representational practices of young children when learning scientific concepts. His previous research has been in physical representations, manipulatives and mathematics education. He has worked with the Alandra Foundation in developing a representational approach in mathematical teaching curricula in primary education.

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Faculty Mentor: Ken Hay
Email: mbarnas@umail.iu.edu

Martina is a first year PhD student in Learning Sciences, her advisor is Ken Hay. She holds a PhD in Physics from the Ohio State University, and a MSc from Comenius University, Slovakia. She subsequently held post doctoral research positions with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of Florida, and the Indiana University Nuclear Theory Center. In the commercial sector Dr. Barnas was a Staff Scientist at Mentor Graphics. After leaving Mentor she co-founded MNB Technologies where she developed some of the fastest and most compact numeric methods modules commercially available. Dr. Barnas is an internationally recognized physicist with more than 25 publications in referred journals and conference proceedings including collaborations with Nobel Laureate Dr. Kenneth Wilson. Dr. Barnas has been instrumental as the Co-PI in five DoD SBIR Phase I and Phase II projects since MNB’s founding in 2004.

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Email: jacqbarn@indiana.edu

Jackie holds a Bachelors in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. Her interests in both cognition and education brought her to Indiana University, where she is an Associate Instructor (p251.blogspot.com, p254.blogspot.com) and fourth year doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program. She is pursing a doctoral minor in the Cognitive Science department. Jackie has worked as part of the Quest Atlantis Project while here at IU, doing design and implementation work, along with analysis writing, and presentations of work on consequential feedback in videogames and project based learning in mathematics classrooms. Presently, Jackie is reflecting on future dissertation work looking into the affordances of playful talk in learning environments.

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Faculty Mentor: Kylie Peppler
Email: sobender@umail.iu.edu

Sophia Bender is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program. Her background is in Psychology and English Writing. Broadly, her research interests include creativity in learning, learning through play, and the so-called “fourth-grade slump” in creativity, achievement, and learner interest. She hopes that, through her work in the CRLT, she will help to make school more exciting for kids.


Faculty Mentor: Kylie Peppler
Email: mdownton@indiana.edu

Michael Downton hold a B.A. in Psychology from Purdue University and a minor in Music from Indiana University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Learning Sciences working on his dissertation. Working closely with Dr. Kylie Peppler and the Creativity Labs at IU, his interests include how children learn, engage, collaborate and what motivates them to participate in music via technological sources such as video/computer games (i.e. Rock Band/Guitar Hero) and production tools (i.e. GarageBand, Reason, Finale, etc.). He is particularly interested in how young children use their intuitions to solve problems in computer supported collaborative environments. To see all presentations and publication, visit his site.

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 Faculty Mentor: Joyce Alexander
Email: tfreygan@indiana.edu

Thea Freygang holds a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from the University of Evansville and a Masters in Educational Psychology with a focus in Learning Sciences from Indiana University. She is currently a sixth year Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences program at Indiana University. She is working with Dr. Joyce Alexander and Kathy E. Johnson (chair of Psychology IUPUI) exploring formal and informal learning environments effect on how young children understand animals, their needs and human impact. Thea is also interested in understanding how ecological study abroad opportunities impact the trajectory toward conservation related beliefs and activities. Thea is currently teaching courses in the School of Education at IUPUI for her second year following four years of working as an associate instructor at IUB.

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Faculty Mentor: Kylie Peppler
Email: dglosson@indiana.edu

Diane Glosson is currently a 5th year Ph.D student with a minor in Art Education. After obtaining a BA degree in Cinema/Television from USC, Diane worked in the entertainment industry for 5 years as an Associate Producer, then obtained a MA degree in Curriculum/Educational Technology in a quest to work with at-risk youth in identity formation research through various means of storytelling engagement (e.g., video, animation, claymation, documentary) particularly in informal environments. She brings these experiences to her work on the NSF-sponsored Computational Textiles as Materials for Creativity project, to investigate how youth design and program e-textiles in informal spaces (i.e., Bloomington Boys & Girls Club, Bloomington Project School, summer science workshops). Her research interests include learning in informal spaces, youth identity formation, intergenerational relationships and equity issues in STEM fields. Diane is currently an Associate Instructor teaching pre-service teachers Educational Psychology with their field service in an informal environment. 

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Email: leogordo@indiana.edu
Blog: http://therelentless-pursuit.blogspot.com
Education: MA: Learning Sciences, Northwestern University; Secondary Ed. Teaching Certificate (English Language Arts), National-Louis University; B.A.: English Language & Literature (Pre-Med), The University of Chicago.

The 2012-2013 school year marks my 3rd year as a Learning Sciences(LS) PhD student. My interest in the Learning Sciences stem from my firsthand experience as a Secondary English Language Arts(ELA) and Integrative Science Instructor at Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men in Chicago (Click here to see pics of my old classroom! http://tiny.cc/j6ttj ). As an instructor, I consider myself to be a “learning engineer": carefully, methodically, obsessively, and iteratively designing interventions to improve students' learning in my classroom. During my stint as a high school teacher, I also designed and lead professional developments geared to support my school's largely novice teaching staff. As a reflective practitioner-regularly documenting pedagogical insights and curricular innovation- I was able to devise and share principled approaches with my colleagues for promoting a motivating classroom environment that fosters the development of self-directed learning. Falling in love with curricular design and teaching, I was overjoyed when I stumbled upon the LS field.


Faculty Mentor: Daniel Hickey
Email: rcitow@indiana.edu
M.A. Ed., Education and Secondary Teaching Credential, Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology
B.A., Theatre Directing, Pepperdine University
A.A., Dance, Moorpark College
A.A., Liberal Arts, Moorpark College

Rebecca taught AP and Honors English, coached the county and state recognized Mock Trial and Forensics (speech and debate, not dead bodies) Teams, and was the AP Department chair at Simi Valley High School in California. Her interests include designing engaging curriculum using 21st Century skills and technologies, and improving gifted education and student achievement. She and her husband wrote and illustrated the children’s book A Boy, A Dog and Persnickety Log and love to ballroom Dance - they even sang down the aisle on 8-9-10! In addition to her interest and work in education, Rebecca is a dancer, circus acrobat, avid knitter, and has conducted research on students with Tourette's Syndrome at the City of Hope Medical Genetics lab in Duarte, California.

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Faculty Mentor: Joshua Danish
Email: jokeene@indiana.edu
B.S.: Multidisciplinary Studies, Texas Tech University

Johanna Keene studied Multidisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on English Language Arts, Reading, and Social Studies at Texas Tech University. After graduating she taught fourth grade reading in Texas for two years in a Title One school. After moving to Bloomington with her husband she taught fourth grade general ed. Now she is a Learning Sciences master's student, interested in equity, agency, and play in science education. She is working with Joshua Danish.

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Faculty mentor: Kylie Peppler
Email: liyuh@indiana.edu
B.S.: Minzu University of China

Yuhan is a second-year master student in Learning Science and her undergraduate major is  Education in Minzu University of China. She had been a undergraduate research assistant of the Inquiry of Discovering and Cultivating Talents for Ethnic Minorities Program, funded by the National Social Science Foundation(NSSF). And she had been a volunteer in the non-profit organization-- Junior Achievement China. Now she is interested in system thinking, instructional technology and instructional design.


Faculty mentor: Kylie Peppler
Email: mckayc@indiana.edu

As a first year PhD student, Christian McKay brings to Indiana University’s Learning Sciences program a diverse range of skills from a widely varied background. His prior lives as a helicopter mechanic, arborist, foundryman, and high school teacher have helped shape his divergent thinking in the realm of education. Christian has come to Learning Sciences through his most recent endeavors as a working artist with his MFA in fine arts from California College of the Arts.

Christian’s research interests are focussed on design-based curriculum and research methods, technology in the learning environment, participatory action research, and their intersections with the processes artists and designers utilize in their work. Christian is currently engaged in a collaboration to develop a digital fabrication lab for the Project School Bloomington, as well as a PAR project mapping the 2010 mass school closures of Kansas City, Missouri with the research and design collective, PlusPraxis.

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Faculty Mentor: Joshua Danish
Email: jenmcwil@indiana.edu
Blog: Making edible playdough is hegemonic: notes toward resistance.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jennamcjenna
MFA: Creative Writing (Poetry Emphasis), Colorado State University (May 2005)
B.A.: English, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI (1999)

Jenna McWilliams is in her fourth year in the Learning Sciences doctoral program. Her research focuses on designing anti-oppressive pedagogies to support LGBTQ youth and on developing teacher resources for confronting bullying and harassment. Previously, Jenna worked at MIT’s New Media Literacies project as a researcher and curriculum specialist; prior to that work, she worked as a college English instructor, a newspaper reporter, a community activist, and a groundskeeper.

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B.S. Cross-Cultural Educational Ministries, Huntington University (May 2001)
Email: ppettyjo@indiana.edu

Patrick Pettyjohn is a third year Ph.D. student in Learning Sciences program at Indiana University. He is interested in developing a means of understanding how people perceive opportunities for action, which he seeks to apply to areas of education, leadership development, strategic change management, and philanthropy. My current work involves designing and researching how multi-user virtual learning environments can be used as reflective tools which communicate one’s academic understanding while simultaneously allowing the player to experience the consequences of their choices and ethical beliefs. His current research interests have been strongly influenced by his undergraduate degree in educational ministries from Huntington University, and previous work domestic & cross-cultural roles leading in various mentoring nonprofit organizations and as a personal & team performance consultant.

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Faculty Mentor: Daniel Hickey
Email: amstrak@indiana.edu
Twitter: @andistrack

Andi Rehak is a second year PhD student in the Learning Sciences PhD program at Indiana University. She received her BS from the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) in middle school science and mathematics education. After five semesters working with a supplemental instruction program at MU, Andi has become enthralled with post-secondary learners. Her primary research interests are in "at-risk" post-secondary students and first generation college students. She is currently the President of the Heartland Chapter of the College Reading and Learning Association. As a member of Daniel Hickey's research team, Andi is researching alternative credentialing and recognition of learning in the Digital Media and Learning: Badges for Lifelong Learning initiative.

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Faculty Mentor: Joshua Danish
Email: asmsaleh@indiana.edu
M.Soc.Sc: Sociology, National University of Singapore
B.Soc.Sc: Sociology, National University of Singapore

Asmalina (Lina) Saleh entered the Learning Sciences in order to advocate play-based, (in)formal and equitable learning. She is interested in examining how simulations and board games can be designed to incorporate elements of play that advances cognitive development and science learning in young children. Trained in Sociology, she is heavily influenced by critical theory and the German philosophical tradition. Her previous research includes ethnographic work with displaced islanders, prison inmates and welfare recipients in Singapore. Lina has designed casual games for an independent game design company and implemented educational games in classrooms, including incorporating process drama into game-based curricula. She has also worked on the Quest Atlantis project, and was the project lead and designer for a genetics curriculum designed for 4th graders. With Dr. Danish, she has successfully designed a short web-based version of the BeeSign curriculum and has analyzing children’s representational practices from an activity theory framework. She has since then implemented the BeeSign board game and the BeeSign simulation in the Bloomington museum, Wonderlab. She is currently working on expanding the BeeSign simulation and board games to promote complex science learning in various informal learning environments.

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Faculty Mentor: Kylie Peppler
Email: rsanto@indiana.edu
Blog: Empathetics: Integral Life: http://Empathetics.org
Twitter:http://twitter.com/Empathetics
Graduated Magna Cum Laud from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2004 with a concentration in Integral Approaches to Understanding the Mind.

Rafi Santo is a researcher, educator, designer and activist currently pursuing his PhD in the Learning Sciences at Indiana University. His research and professional interests focus on the intersection of new media, educational design, interest driven learning, and online participatory cultures, with a particular eye towards how to leverage these areas to create greater equity and democratization in society. He specializes in the design and implementation of digital learning projects and has headed projects as varied as online youth dialogues, design-based curricula that foster systems thinking, social media and game design civic engagement programs and youth leadership programs in virtual worlds. Rafi has collaborated with diverse organizations including The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, UNICEF, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Mozilla Foundation and has worked with MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning grantees to strengthen their initiatives through youth voices and perspectives. He regularly consults with foundations, community groups, NGOs, educators and designers to explore the potential of new media to meet goals related to learning and social change, leveraging over 10 years of experience in youth development and education.
 
Prior to starting his doctoral work at Indiana University, Rafi was a Senior Program Associate at Global Kids. In his current work he is designing and researching youth experiences that utilize digital tools and learning environments such as Gamestar Mechanic, Scratch and the Lilypad Arduino to develop systems thinking. In his work on Hacker Literacies, he is exploring the ways that people empower themselves in relation to the technologies they use, with special attention to critical engagement with online social spaces such as social networks, virtual worlds, massively multiplayer games and fan communities. Additionally, in his work on diffusion of digital learning innovations, Rafi is looking at how regional networks of informal learning organizations act as incubators for new ideas and technologies for learning.

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Email: msolomou@indiana.edu 
Website: http://www.mariasolomou.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/msolomou

Maria is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Learning Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington. Currently, she is a visiting researcher at Arizona State University, at the Learning Sciences Institute. She holds a B.A in Teacher Education from the University of Cyprus and an MSc in Education, Technology and Society from the University of Bristol, U.K., majoring in commercial computer games in education. Her research interests lie in digital production and consumption of media within gaming environments and through narratives. She is interested in the ways that identities are transformed through interactions in gaming contexts, both commercial and educational, virtual and in real life, as well as in the ways that in-game instruction enhances meaningful learning. She seeks to decompose practice in order to understand and advance instructional designs for learning. For that, she is working on a framework about sourcing learning, which informs instructional and educational practices, where instructors and trainers can create meaningful learning trajectories for training their employees (corporate settings) and facilitating learners (educational settings).Maria's latest work focuses on creativity in virtual environments, as it is shaped through collaborative practices and as influenced by the community. Adopting a systems-based, holistic approach, she investigates ways the field takes up individual choices as being creative as well as the transactive relationship between the individual, the field and the domain, as they inform and push each other towards creativity.

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Faculty Mentor: Daniel Hickey
Email: jdwalsh@indiana.edu

Equally at home in small crew documentary and large crew union production, John has worked in three top-ten North American television markets. An active freelance director of photography, he shoots national broadcast creative service and long form documentary. Inspired by a formative experience at the USC School of CNTV, John has remained involved with teaching throughout his career. His current learning sciences research combines participatory culture and digital media arts.

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