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Emerging Scholar Spotlight: Tayler Loiselle

Tayler Loiselle is a first-year Ph.D candidate in Psychological Foundations program in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota, with an emphasis on Learning and Cognition/Educational Technology. Under the mentorship of Dr. Keisha Varma, Tayler’s research focuses on how middle school students engage with and learn science in school.

Tayler’s journey to Educational Psychology began as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, where she received her degree in Child Psychology. Tayler has always been interested in psychology and developmental research, so she began working in research labs as soon as her second year of college. She first started as a research assistant (and later Lab Manager) in the Yonas Perception Lab under Dr. Albert Yonas, where she gained valuable insight into developmental research approaches, ideas, and methodology. Here, she helped facilitate an eye-tracking study as well as worked on developing a computer application to support children with ASD in emotion recognition. Later in her undergraduate career, she was awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grant and worked with Dr. Keisha Varma in the Scientific Reasoning Lab. Under Dr. Varma’s direction, Tayler explored the relationship between middle school students’ intelligence mindsets and their success in science class. After these amazing experiences, Tayler knew that the educational research was a good fit for her because of their aligned focus on engaged community research in schools and helping adolescents be successful.

Outside of the research world, Tayler worked as a Special Educational Assistant in an elementary school, where she worked with young children on the development of life skills and school-readiness goals. Additionally, Tayler helped launch the first after-school program at this school since the school had recently opened. She served as a GEMS and GISE assistant coach and program coordinator, which taught young kids about science and engineering through project work. Having these hands-on experiences working in a classroom played a pivotal role in her decision to continue in classroom-engaged research.

Tayler is currently a Graduate Research Assistant on the NSF-Funded project (project number 165708), Fostering Equitable Science through Parental Involvement and Technology. This project aims to use a Social Learning Environment (Flipgrid) to mediate the achievement gap for immigrant students. This project has three main goals: (1) enhance the science learning, attitudes, and engagement of racial minority and immigrant students through technology-rich experiences; (2) create meaningful science teacher, student, and parent/family partnerships centered on academics; and (3) increase the science education involvement of racial minority and immigrant parents. Tayler works on many aspects of the project, which include working collaboratively with the middle school teachers and students, both in and outside of the classroom.

In addition to project work, Tayler is exploring student engagement behaviors and outcomes while using Flipgrid. Currently, she is developing a type of coding system that she and others can use to look for overt engagement behaviors in the Flipgrid student responses. For her dissertation, she hopes to continue digging deeper into technology integration in science classrooms so that educators and researchers can continue to support student engagement and learning during middle school. Tayler believes that working collaboratively with teachers, communities, and schools where you are conducting your research is a large step in trying to mediate the achievement gaps that exist in the STEM field.


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