Want to Shape the Future? Support Emerging Scholars! - Digital Promise

Want to Shape the Future? Support Emerging Scholars!

Two groupings of two individuals having conversations, includes education and the technology symbols in word bubbles for a ligthbulb, a robotic arm, VR goggles, and a silhouette of head with two gears. In the background, there are several silhouettes of people having conversations with word bubbles to demonstrate knowledge sharing.

April 27, 2022 | By and

Key Ideas
  • Current graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are the future experts who will create cutting-edge educational technologies for equitable, personalized learning.
  • The Center for Integrative Research in Learning and Computing Sciences (CIRCLS) broadens participation in this exciting field by supporting emerging scholars.
  • Established researchers can help us envision and create a more equitable future by mentoring CIRCLS’ emerging scholars.

U.S. schools currently serve approximately 73 million students enrolled in grade levels ranging from preschool to graduate school. While some students experience personalized and meaningful learning, many do not—they often encounter a Digital Learning Gap. Emerging Scholar CIRCLS aims to tackle learning challenges by fostering a supportive community to develop and empower early-career education researchers. Through collaboration and mentorship, this group works to change how researchers are prepared in order to positively affect the future of learning.

Emerging Scholars are the Future of the Field

At the Center for Integrative Research in Learning and Computing Sciences (CIRCLS), we recognize that the success of the researchers in our field and the success of the field itself are related to two key factors:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within our research community; and
  • The support system the community provides to its newcomers.

To help our field and researchers create educational technologies of the future, CIRCLS’ mission includes two essential goals: broadening participation in our field and systematically supporting and empowering the field’s emerging scholars. The diversity within the research community and its equity and inclusion practices directly shape the foci and outcomes of the research projects. The support and mentoring provided to the emerging researchers from their early graduate school days nurture the development of multifaceted skills needed for ethical and scalable educational research, including learning how to partner with communities and teachers.

Emerging Scholar CIRCLS: A Program and a Community

In support of these goals, we started Emerging Scholar CIRCLS. Emerging Scholar CIRCLS focuses on helping new scholars develop relationships with other researchers and practitioners in the field and learn skills they need to flourish in their careers. Emerging Scholar CIRCLS is a community of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty members, and university and industry researchers in the first few years of their careers. Currently more than 130 members strong, our community includes people from four continents and seven countries. Our members strive to expand their social networks and knowledge about various relevant topics, ranging from interdisciplinary research methods to possible career paths. Importantly, as they develop their scholarly identities, emerging scholars need to see people similar to themselves participating and contributing to the field. Representation matters—seeing someone who shares your identity succeed in a challenging field shows that it is possible for you as well and provides you with positive role models to emulate.

Empowering Emerging Scholars

Emerging Scholar CIRCLS takes a multifaceted approach to help new scholars achieve their goals. Through our Featured Emerging Scholar series, we highlight the diversity of our members and the excellence of the work they do. We also offer three types of activities that address different needs of our members: professional development sessions, research interest affinity groups, and the Emerging Scholars Mentoring Series. The activities work synergistically to advance our members’ knowledge and help them strengthen their interdisciplinary acumen.

Mentoring: Increasing Equity and Accessibility

Mentoring is a type of engagement that benefits both the mentor and the mentee. In the Emerging Scholar CIRCLS Mentoring Series, we connect small groups of emerging scholars with established scholars in one-hour mentoring sessions. The mentor and the group engage in informal and candid discussions, shaped by their joint interests. Offered quarterly, our series has attracted many established scholars who have successfully traversed fields of computing and learning sciences and partnered with school districts and practitioners to carry out classroom studies. Through this series, mentors find a new way to contribute to the field’s future and connect with the next generation of researchers. For mentees, it opens new doors and increases the accessibility of research careers. Together, we center equity for the future of learning by building community and broadening participation.

“I always love hearing what the emerging scholars in learning sciences are up to and what their concerns are. It helps me learn about the directions the field is heading and ways that I can support those directions.”
Dr. Cindy Hmelo-Silver, Mentor, Professor

“The mentoring series has been an excellent place to share institutional knowledge about how to successfully navigate a research career. I find that these mentoring opportunities support equity by making the hidden curriculum of research careers more accessible to everyone.”
Dr. Angela Stewart, Mentee, Postdoctoral Researcher

Interested in becoming a member of our growing Emerging Scholar CIRCLS community? We invite you to join us by filling out this form. If you’re an established researcher in the field of computing and learning sciences and would like to participate as a mentor in a future mentoring series, we would love to hear from you as well—please fill out this brief mentor interest form. Working together, we can shape the future of the field on emerging technologies for teaching and learning.

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