Doctoral students will develop an understanding of learning in multiple contexts (in and out of school) and the role of structural historical and institutional arrangements that shape learning and development towards the goal of revisioning/reimagining/redesigning learning environments toward more just and equitable ends. Students will explore developing research agendas and designs in partnership with children, youth, families, educators, informal institutions, and schools and districts. Designs for learning and the study of learning will be deeply embedded within existing and emerging theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches and geared towards supporting graduates to create meaningful change for learners and families. Graduates will be prepared to contribute to the community-based design of learning opportunities including in settings like schools, museums, and community centers.
Students may focus on many issues surrounding learning including analysis of:
- Learning across scales
- Particular learning moments
- Collaborative learning sequences over time
- Learning systems including learners embedded within classrooms embedded within schools embedded within districts and states
- Design and implementation of learning environments
- Design and implementation of learning reforms
- STEM learning and education
- Participatory designs, including Research-Practice Partnerships, Social Design Experiments, Community-Based Design, Family Co-Observation Partnerships
- Research collaborations with
- Young children (ages 2-8)
- Youth (ages 12-18)
- Families (children and caregivers)
- Teachers (elementary, middle, high school)
- District- and state-level administration and support for teaching
- Out-of-school learning spaces (e.g., museums)
Faculty in the Learning Sciences concentration have published in top-tier academic journals including the Journal of the Learning Sciences, American Educational Research Journal, Cognition & Instruction, Journal for Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, Journal of Teacher Education, International Journal of Science Education, and Learning, Culture and Social Interaction. They have also collaborated with children, youth, families, teachers, and district and state-level leaders to study existing learning and advocate for learning reform within classrooms.
Why earn this degree from UNT?
The Learning Sciences (LS) as a field has been growing over the past 30+ years. LS is still new to UNT, first launching in the Fall of 2023. Our LS community in the College of Education is both similar and unique from the broader field. Like the broader field, we are dedicated to understanding how sociocultural systems impact learning and designing innovative and transformative opportunities for learning through collaborative partnerships. Unlike most LS programs, the LS concentration in Educational Psychology allows students to take courses exclusively in the evenings so that they can continue to work in districts, museums, and other settings where they can implement their developing expertise in consequential ways and supports full-time students as well. Additionally, the LS faculty in EPSY at UNT have significant expertise in multiple qualitative, design, and collaborative-based research approaches and collaborate with other LS scholars across the US including at universities (e.g., Vanderbilt University, the Ohio State University) and research institutes (e.g., SRI International). Finally, as part of the broader Hispanic-Serving and Minority-Serving Institution at UNT, our program is positioned particularly well to serve the needs of these communities both in supporting doctoral students to develop their research expertise and in serving the learners within these communities across the DFW area and beyond.