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 inconsequential 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.
Application to the Learning Sciences Concentration in the Department of Educational Psychology
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
- Applicants must meet the minimum master’s admissions requirements to the Toulouse Graduate School
In addition to the requirements listed, those who apply should have an interest and passion for understanding processes of learning and supporting equitable changes within learning environments. Students without a masters-level degree in an education-related field will likely need to take additional courses.
Applying to a graduate program at UNT is a two-step process.
Application to the Learning Sciences Graduate Academic Certificate (GAC)
Courses are offered in multiple formats (in-person, online, and hybrid), with most in-person courses offered in the evening.
Learning Sciences Seminar 1 - EPSY 6500
This course provides an overview of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches to the study and design of learning. This course will consider the role of social context and culture in shaping learning processes; the various ways learning is demonstrated; and the implications of these processes for the design and study of learning environments.
Learning Sciences Seminar 2 - EPSY 6510
This advanced Learning Sciences course provides a context for deepening students’ professional identities as Learning Sciences scholars by articulating and developing their own theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches to the study and design of learning in preparation for their dissertation work. This course supports students to deepen their understanding of the role of social context and culture in shaping learning processes, the various ways learning is demonstrated, and the implications of these processes for their design and study of learning environments.
Design-Based and Participatory Research Methods (DBPR) - EPSY 6520
Design-based research (DBR) is a methodology that involves the orchestration and empirical study of innovative and equity-focused learning environments, organizations, and social movements. In contrast to strictly observational methods, DBR transforms and theoretically analyzes learning environments “in the wild.” Similarly, participatory methods, such as Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR), Participatory Action Research (PAR), Community-Based Research (CBR), and Social Design Experiments (SDEs) work toward these aims with varying emphasis on the role of the researcher and power dynamics within and across research teams and contexts. While DBR and participatory research tends to be heavily qualitative, mixed methods designs are also common. This course will provide an overview of these methods; will help prepare and build students’ capacity to form ethical and effective partnerships toward design-based and participatory research studies; and support students in conceptualizing and designing their own design-based and/or participatory research studies.
Research Methodologies as Contexts for Learning - EPSY 6530
Explore multiple approaches to analysis of learning contexts and the iterative qualitative exploration of data that supports the learning of researchers and the iterative design of learning environments. Students will engage in a small sample-project using a corpus of data to explore a phenomenon of interest, recording their iterative analysis process through analytical memos and presenting their methodological justifications for method choices throughout the semester.