A Learner-Centered Design Method for Educational Technology

Tue, 06/10/2014


Sarita Pillai, Kimberly Lucas, Alice Mello

Since 2003, EDC has implemented projects that work directly with middle school aged youth from underserved populations to develop digital resources aimed at encouraging young people to pursue STEM education and careers. It is through this work that EDC has developed and implemented a powerful, youth-centered participatory research and design method for the design of educational technologies.

Young girls working on computer




Publication Type: 

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 

New EDC Website Deepens Understanding of Infectious Diseases

Picture of ebola virus from new EDC Exploring Infectious Diseases website

Every 12 to 18 months, an outbreak of infectious disease erupts somewhere in the world. EDC’s new, free interactive Web resource, Exploring Infectious Diseases, tackles this challenge head-on by providing engaging, scientifically accurate materials to raise awareness of infectious diseases and guide informed decision-making during outbreaks and epidemics.

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 

Early STEM Learning and the Roles of Technologies

Tue, 05/31/2016


In this EDC white paper, the authors discuss how the thoughtful use of technology by early childhood teachers and families can enhance the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning of children from birth to age eight and help set the stage for successful lifelong STEM learning. The authors summarize key findings from their work and present evidence-based recommendations that can help ensure technology reaches its potential to improve the quality and equity of early STEM education for all young children. Highlights include:

Thoughtful use of technology to support early STEM learning



12 pp.

Publication Type: 

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 

Fostering STEM Trajectories


Washington, DC

On May 31 to June 1, Shelley Pasnik and Cynthia Hoisington will present at and take part in a national forum hosted by New America and Joan Ganz Cooney Center and funded by the National Science Foundation, “Fostering STEM Trajectories: Bridging ECE Research, Practice, & Policy,” that will engage thought leaders in prioritizing plans to address challenges in early STEM learning. Learn more about this event.

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 

EDC Early STEM Learning Experts Present at Fostering STEM Trajectories Forum

EDC experts take part in Fostering STEM Trajectories Forum

On May 31 and June 1, EDC Vice President Shelley Pasnik, Senior Curriculum Designer Cynthia Hoisington, and Senior Training and Technical Assistance Associate Jeff Winokur presented at and took part in a national forum hosted by New America and Joan Ganz Cooney Center, “Fostering STEM Trajectories: Bridging ECE Research, Practice, & Policy,” that engaged thought leaders in prioritizing plans to address challenges in early STEM learning.

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 

Outstanding STEM Learning For All


Sarita Pillai leads initiatives to improve the quality and equity of STEM education, including managing national research and technical assistance centers, building and sustaining communities of practice to promote professional learning, and engaging youth in developing STEM-focused, technology-based resources. Sarita is the PI of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded STEM Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at EDC and co-PI of the NSF-funded Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL). In 2015, Sarita, STELAR co-PI Caroline Parker, Catherine McCulloch (co-PI of Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education—CADRE at EDC), and colleagues from SRI Education worked with the NSF and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate a daylong invitational forum on "next generation" STEM education. In this post, Sarita shares a few key points from EDC’s May 2016 report on the Forum, Next Generation STEM for All: Envisioning Advances Based on NSF Supported Research.

Featured Blog: 


Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 

2016 NSF STEM for All Video Showcase

Tue, 05/17/2016


Various EDC staff

From May 17 to 23, 2016, nine videos by EDC researchers and instructional designers were featured in the National Science Foundation (NSF) 2016 online Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Video Showcase. The Showcase shared selected NSF-funded work from across the country. The theme of the Showcase, “Advancing STEM Learning for All,” embodies EDC's innovative work to close STEM opportunity and achievement gaps. All nine of EDC’s videos that appear in the Showcase spotlight important aspects of our STEM work.

screenshot of video thumbnails



Publication Type: 

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 

The KC EMPOWER Project: Designing More Accessible STEM Activities

Tue, 03/01/2016


Bob Hirshon and Laureen Summers of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Babette Moeller, Wendy Martin

This paper, published in K–12 STEM Education, describes an effort to examine how STEM resources could be made more accessible for students, regardless of what abilities they bring to the table. The authors looked at a small selection of afterschool STEM activities taken from 80 that were developed years ago through a previous National Science Foundation grant (Award # 0104671, Kinetic City After School: An On-line Adventure).

journal cover


49 pp.

Publication Type: 

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 

Rebecca Schillaci

Email Rebecca Schillaci

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 


Rebecca Schillaci

First name: 


Last name: 



Rebecca Schillaci is committed to conducting high-quality research of educational programs. She contributes her expertise in research design, quantitative and qualitative methodologies, survey design, statistics, and data analysis to a wide range of studies.

Schillaci is an evaluator for the Think College Transition (TCT) Model Project, an inclusive dual-enrollment model aimed at improving outcomes for students with intellectual disabilities enrolled in transition services by providing them with college experiences.

Schillaci is also a team member of the NSF-funded STEM Learning and Research (STELAR) Center, the resource center for the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program. Through her work on webinars and as a project liaison, she provides technical support to ITEST projects and helps inform NSF and other stakeholders of ITEST’s impact by collecting and synthesizing data from those projects.

Previously, Schillaci served as an evaluator of an algebra curriculum in use in Connecticut (read a blog post describing the findings) and was a researcher in an NSF ITEST-funded-study of the effectiveness of technology-focused professional development. She is a co-author of an article that presents the results of that study, “Examining the Quality of Technology Implementation in STEM Classrooms: Demonstration of an Evaluative Framework” (Journal of Research on Technology in Education).

Before joining EDC, Schillaci was manager of the Child Cognition Laboratory at Boston University, where she contributed to the development, design, execution, and dissemination of several grant-funded research projects examining a broad range of topics including science learning, artifact categorization, teleological reasoning, and imitative learning in children and adults. She is coauthor on several publications based on this research, including “Children’s Conformity When Acquiring Novel Conventions: The Case of Artifacts” (Journal of Cognition and Development), “The Designing Mind: Children’s Reasoning about Intended Function and Artifact Structure” (Journal of Cognition and Development), and “Young Children Can be Taught Natural Selection Using a Picture-Storybook Intervention” (Psychological Science).

Schillaci received a BA in Psychology from Wellesley College and an MA in Developmental Science from Boston University.


Staff Profile

Job title: 

Research Associate


Leadership for Learning Innovation

Mailing Address: 

43 Foundry Avenue
Waltham, Massachusetts 02453-8313



2016 DRK–12 Event Focuses on Impacts, Bridging Research and Practice, and Digital Media

CADRE at EDC supports and shares innovative DRK-12 STEM education R&D

On June 1–3, EDC convened 230 National Science Foundation (NSF) Discovery Research K–12 (DRK–12) awardees and 20 NSF program officers to share strategies, impacts, and challenges in their innovative work to improve STEM education. Held in Washington, DC, the invitational meeting had a special focus on exploring the role of digital media in fostering deep STEM and cross-disciplinary learning and also engaged participants in examining how STEM education R&D can best address the needs of practitioners.

Descriptors (Bodies of Work): 


Subscribe to RSS - STEM