The Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program prepares you to pursue a career as a leading scientific researcher. Our graduates study how people learn, and they use this knowledge to design better learning environments.
Your education will be interdisciplinary
Many learning scientists study school classrooms, and develop research-based innovations for use in schools. But our studies extend far beyond classrooms. Learning scientists study learning everywhere that it happens — science centers, workplaces, apprenticeships, communities and social contexts, and virtual and technology-mediated environments.
Because we study a broad variety of learning environments, we also use a broad range of methodologies. Some of us design controlled laboratory experiments and use quantitative and statistical methods. However, most learning scientists study learning in the real-world contexts where it happens, and they use qualitative methods to analyze what’s going on, such as ethnography and interaction analysis.
You will learn theories and methods used in psychology, but also anthropology, sociology, interaction design, design-based research, software and hardware design, and language and communication studies.
You will be prepared for a career as a researcher
You will learn how to make original contributions to scientific knowledge, using a full range of research tools. You will receive training in how to successfully pursue scientific research, including, how to design a research study; how to gather data; how to analyze data within a theoretical framework; how to discuss your findings and explore the real-world implications of your research.
You will develop your own research agenda
In the first two years of the program, you will choose a specific focus, under the guidance of our research faculty. You have many options from which to choose. We will work with you to help you identify your own research path, beginning with your dissertation research project, and then, continuing in your academic career after graduation. We will help you develop your own interests into a compelling research topic that can make a difference to everyone working in our field.
You’ll select a specific age of learner; a specific content area to be learned (it could be science, math, language arts, music, history, or workplace skills); and a specific context where that learning happens (a school classroom; a smartphone app; a robotics design competition; a museum-based or summer-camp program). You’ll then identify a research question — something that we want to know about learning, but that no scientist has yet discovered.
If this sounds challenging, it is! But our professors are leading experts, and we’ll guide you to master these research skills. We’re in the business of creating new knowledge!
You will join a community of leading researchers
You will work closely with our team of research professors, as both advisors and as collaborators. Our professors have written influential books; have published significant research in scientific journals; and speak at academic conferences regularly, both in the United States and internationally. We often collaborate with professors at other leading research universities in the United States and internationally.
Our research is funded by competitive grants from the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Education Sciences, and others. Our books and research articles have been translated into many different languages, connecting us to an international community of scholars.
By working through our program, we’ll connect you with a large network of scientific researchers. We’ll introduce you to the leading scholars who are most interested in your own chosen research topic.
Your research will help improve lives
We believe that the best way to improve education is to ground it in the latest scientific research. We are fact-based. We believe in the potential of science to improve lives. We challenge assumptions. We develop educational innovations that work, because they’re based in scientific knowledge.
We hope you will join us in the important work of using science to improve education for all.