Equity-Centered Learning Environments (ECLEs) 


LER’s equity-centered learning environments initiative aims to accelerate and deepen research related to instructional practices and curriculum principles that provide equitable learning opportunities and outcomes for each and every student in student-centered, project-based and/or interdisciplinary classrooms. In the summer of 2021, LER funded four research teams who are engaged in ongoing research addressing equity and student-centered learning in educational contexts across the country. LER’s funding supports the teams in coming together regularly in a scholarly learning community called a Collaboratory, to deepen their existing work by learning from each other, writing together, and sharing their knowledge with the field at large. The four teams are:

University of Colorado, Boulder

The Learning to Transform (LiTT) Video Gaming Lab: Researchers at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder are examining how to design for transformative learning ecologies, leveraging young people’s everyday valued practices through intentionally designed intergenerational learning opportunities. In this research, the team provides opportunities for high school students to enroll in an undergraduate education course at CU Boulder. As part of the expectations of the course, high school and undergraduate students collaborate together and reflect on their video-gaming practices, opening up opportunities for civic action. This initiative is a partnership between the University of Colorado, Denver Public Schools, and the Youth Empowerment Broadcasting Organization.

Team: Arturo Cortez (PI), Edward Rivero (co-PI)

Northwestern University

Building Robust Ecologies for Justice-Oriented Teacher Learning: Researchers at Northwestern University are bringing together in-school and out-of-school educators to engage in equity-centered pedagogical practices designed to draw deep connections to their students’ everyday lives. Educators and researchers co-design, implement and reflect on teaching a culturally expansive STEAM makerspace curriculum with Black and Latinx middle school students, with the broader goal of building transformative educational experiences and forms of change-making. For example, students are carefully guided to use digital tools and storytelling to explore their lives and communities by developing multiple creative artifacts (i.e. clothing, digital stories, drawings, wooden sculptures, musical instruments and poetry) and written stories about their lives and futures.

Team: Paula Hooper (PI), Shirin Vossoughi (co-PI), Melita Morales (co-PI), Kavita Matsko, (co-PI)

University of California, Berkeley

Writing Data Stories: Researchers at the University of California Berkeley are designing curriculum and professional learning to enhance instructional practices to support their students’ critical-thinking and data-literacy skills. Students use digital storytelling and computational visualizations to uncover and highlight how their own knowledge, experiences, and values may be reflected or omitted within public data sets. For example, through digital storytelling students uncover how and why the Latinx community is significantly more likely to suffer the ill effects of fires in California, which affect their personal and physical safety as well as have longer-term impacts on health. This is a partnership between the university and a number of San Francisco Bay Area public schools serving predominantly Black and Latinx students.

Team: Michelle Hoda Wilkerson (PI), Kris Gutiérrez (co-PI), Cherise McBride (co-PI), 

New York University

Participating in Literacies and Computer Science: Researchers at New York University and City University of New York at Brooklyn College are enhancing teachers’ capacities to equitably support emergent bilingual students in interdisciplinary and project-based computer science secondary classrooms across New York City public schools. Such practices identify, enable, and build on students’ strengths, experiences, and identities. For example, a teacher of a bilingual seventh-grade class, whose families were mostly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, codesigned an interdisciplinary project-based science and computer science unit with the researchers after Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean; the students learned about scientific models, weather, and the water cycle while also interviewing their families, neighbors, and community activists about their experiences with hurricanes and the community’s responses to helping each other.

Team: Lauren Vogelstein (co-PI), Laura Ascenzi-Moreno(co-PI), Christopher Hoadley (co-PI), Jasmine Ma (co-PI), Sara Vogel, Wendy Barrales

Year of Funding: