Keune wins dissertation award

By 

Anna Keune

Anna Keune, a Ph.D. student in Learning Sciences at the IU School of Education, has won the University Distinguished Ph.D. Dissertation Award in social sciences from the University Graduate School.

Keune said winning the award was an energizing surprise: “It absolutely made my day! I am completely honored and humbled by the decision and it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to have my work recognized by Indiana University in this special capacity.”

Keune’s dissertation is situated within the recent turn toward educational equity in the learning sciences. Her work explored connections between fiber crafts and computing that have the potential to uncover possibilities for computing to become a more diversified domain in terms of materials, cultural practices and, ultimately, people. 

“Overall, my dissertation was divided into three areas of inquiry that present unique contributions to learning sciences research, and taken together, present a (re)examination of the role of materials in computer science learning through fiber crafts,” Keune said. “First, my dissertation established that fiber crafts are suitable for learning computing and how they inform the design of educational interventions. Second, my dissertation studied how different fiber crafts drive youth’s computational learning differently. Third, my dissertation investigated the utility of posthumanist perspectives for the study of learning in the context of computational fiber crafting … All in all, my dissertation presents the utility of posthumanist perspectives–non-canonical perspective to the study of learning–as an additional theoretical approach to the study of learning that can contribute to addressing educational challenges.”

“Posthumanist perspectives can uncover materially driven deficit orientations and highlight more expansive STEM domain orientations that would otherwise remain hidden in plain sight. Further, the dissertation points toward a craft-driven approach to educational technology design that promises a renewed outlook toward STEM equity by expanding computing as a domain. Finally, the efficient alignment of maker educational practices (e.g., low-cost fiber crafts) with domain concepts contribute to pedagogy also for currently underserved communities. The work suggests to purposefully select materials for particular aspects of computing,” Keune explained.

The award, which includes a $5,000 scholarship, is given to two Ph.D. dissertations in two categories that demonstrate originality, documentation, significance, accuracy, organization and style.

Keune is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine. She plans to relocate to Europe and use her Ph.D. to continue to investigate questions related to the role materials play in how STEM learning unfolds and how crafts can inform STEM educational design: “This promises to contribute to more expansive and equity-oriented approaches toward STEM learning,” she added.

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