College of Education > News and Publications > 2017: 10-12 news > Deans' message on the Learning Sciences

Deans' message on the Learning Sciences

In his message in the 2017 Report on the Learning Sciences, Dean David H. Monk said there is much work going on in the classroom and through research directly related to the Learning Sciences.

Monk David 72The study of what has become known as the Learning Sciences constitutes a wide-ranging modern effort within the field of education to build bridges among various related but often distinct areas of scholarship. Within the College of Education at Penn State, there is much work going on in the classroom and through research directly related to the Learning Sciences.

Penn State has a long tradition of scholarship with a focus on design and applications of technology to teaching and learning. Our graduate program in Learning, Design and Technology (LDT) is central to this effort.

Penn State has an even longer commitment to the study of cognitive science in various parts of the University, including the Educational Psychology Graduate Program in the College of Education.

Several content domains also are active in the modern Learning Sciences efforts at Penn State, including the science education and mathematics education emphasis areas within the Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) graduate program. The University has an extended history of excellence in these content domains as well.

Within the College of Education, the four areas most immediately salient for the Learning Sciences Initiative are located in three separate academic departments. Good work is proceeding and several recent tenure-line faculty hires have been made, particularly within LDT.

In addition, we have created an administrative structure that will strengthen connections among these four areas of the College of Education and also build bridges to other relevant areas of the University. The new structure will be led by Scott McDonald, director of the Krause Studios for Innovation and a tenured faculty member in the College of Education. Scott has strong connections to aspects of the Learning Sciences and proven administrative skills for building collaborative programs. You can read more about his appointment and what he hopes to accomplish here.

We will look to the initiative to develop curricular offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Learning Sciences and also to facilitate the funding of collaborative research projects designed to advance scholarship in the Learning Sciences.

We see the following areas of scholarship playing key roles in the emerging initiative: the design and utilization of emerging technology; content area learning (science and mathematics and STEM fields more generally at the outset); learning process measures; and the design and utilization of learning spaces. These explorations will include the use of inventive research approaches such as learning analytics, problem/design-based research, cognitive studies, intervention and prevention science, and discourse analysis.

In the stories that follow, you will read about some of our College’s work in the Learning Sciences, including the framework for establishing dual-title graduate degree programs; the development of an “intelligent tutor” to help students in grades four to eight learn to write informative and persuasive essays; research into “informal learning” through participation in action sports; research looking at art and design instruction and how a studio-based setting impacts learners and learning; the use of race and gender in videogames; and other topics.
I hope you enjoy this snapshot of our efforts in the Learning Sciences. As always, I welcome your feedback.