The Illinois Learning Sciences Design Initiative recently awarded $164,000 in grants to six interdisciplinary research teams on campus.
The awards were disbursed under the second phase of ILSDI’s seed-funding program, which was implemented to foster interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations among faculty members on campus and facilitate development of large-scale proposals for external funding.
“We are excited by these strong, dynamic and inventive projects,” said Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, ILSDI steering committee chair and associate dean for research in the College of Education. “They represent real campuswide partnership and effort, and further the college’s aim to invent next-generation tools that transform and improve learning across contexts and the life span.”
A team led by Michelle Perry, educational psychology, received a $12,000 Type I Grant Development Award for the project titled “Understanding Learning Behavior Patterns in Massive Open Online Courses to Support Early Interventions.” The research team, which includes collaborators from computer science, engineering and the Coordinated Science Lab, will analyze students’ online activities via their clickstreams, with the goal of developing analytics that aid in early identification of learner disengagement.
Five teams were awarded Type II funding to implement small pilot or proof-of-concept projects and generate sufficient findings to increase their external funding competitiveness:
- “Studying and Assessing How Students Develop Computational Thinking,” led by Jennifer Amos, bioengineering, with collaborators from educational psychology and engineering; $20,000 for two pilot studies observing students as they solve problems in their disciplines using pencil and paper or computational tools.
- “Digital Archaeology: Virtual Reality in Social Science Education,” led by Laura Shackelford, anthropology, with collaborators from computer science, veterinary medicine and the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; $27,000 to create an immersive, interactive virtual reality site that will allow all students to participate in archaeological field work, such as excavations and recording of field data.
- “Critical Medical Thinking: Complex Epistemic Performance in Collaborative, Multimodal Learning Environments,” Bill Cope, educational policy, organization and leadership; and Jennifer Amos, bioengineering, with collaborators from computer science, veterinary medicine, molecular and integrative physiology, and medical microbiology; $33,500 to conduct a four-site pilot of the Critical Medical Thinking learning environment, which enables students and instructors in medicine and veterinary medicine to create multimodal case studies and reviews.
- “Improving Spatial Thinking Using Augmented Reality Video Games with Embodied Interactions,” Wai-Tat Fu, computer science, with collaborators from educational psychology, curriculum and instruction, psychology, and computer science; $34,500 to develop software and hardware platforms to implement the digital educational game Homeworld Bound using an augmented reality toolkit based on Microsoft HoloLens.
- “Making a difference: Project-based Approaches to STEM Engagement in Middle School,” Emma Mercier, curriculum and instruction, with collaborators from University Laboratory High School, curriculum and instruction, engineering and the Illinois Informatics Institute; $37,000 to understand how science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning and identity development occurs through projects in a middle school science curriculum, and to begin creating a framework to drive future use of these activities.
All six teams will receive support services from the College of Education and the campus as they develop their projects and seek funding from targeted major agencies and organizations.
Launched in February 2015, ILSDI is part of the college’s mission to revolutionize teaching and learning across contexts and the lifespan by developing and commercializing cutting-edge technological platforms and tools.
ILSDI’s seed-funding program was created with contributions from the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the colleges of Education and Engineering, the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and University Laboratory High School.
An advisory board, which includes the deans and directors of the partnering units that contributed seed funding, oversees ILSDI. A steering committee that comprises faculty members from each of the partnering units and is led by Abd-El-Khalick oversees ILSDI’s operations.
For a full list of each team’s members or additional information about their projects, email Elizabeth Niswander, firstname.lastname@example.org.