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New Faculty: Megan Bang

Megan Bang has been appointed assistant professor in the area of Educational Psychology. Bang received her Ph.D. in 2008 from the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy.

megan bangA Spencer Graduate Fellow at Northwestern, Bang specialized in cognitive science, a discipline within the learning sciences. Not only did she receive a cognitive science graduate fellowship for interdisciplinary research projects, she was also awarded a Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for her dissertation, which was titled, “Understanding Students’ Epistemologies: Examining Practice and Meaning in Community Contexts.”

Bang’s academic work, specifically her dissertation, “explored the kinds of explanations, arguments, and attentional habits Native American children are exposed to andlearn in community settings as they relate to school science learning.”

She continued along this pathway as a Post-Doc at TERC with the Cheche Konnen Center working with Beth Warren and Ann Rosebery. Here Megan was able to expand her work into thinking about these issues with teachers and classrooms. Megan says that, "Beth and Ann are incredible thinkers and have been at the forefront of thinking about issues of culture, diversity and science education." In addition, Megan served as the Director of Education at the American Indian Center of Chicago, a community organization, and has been focused on developing meaningful community based science education. Megan will continue to work with both partners as faculty at UW.

 “Through that work I have learned a lot about how to conduct research that empowers, benefits, and builds the capacity of Indigenous communities directly,” Bang explains, “while contributing to the field’s fundamental understandings of teaching and learning. We have done this through better understanding culture and cognition broadly construed and more specifically in the context of community based science teaching and learning. For me, seriously reworking our understandings of culture in our foundational theories, curricula, pedagogies, and the like, is critical for designing and implementing learning environments that are transformative for youth typically placed at risk.”

Her knowledge of creating and sustaining quality-learning environments is a major reason for Bang’s foray into the University of Washington College of Education, where she will teach and research this topic.

“The College seems to be an ideal match with the interests and sensibilities I have about the wide range of environments that learning occurs in and matters for improving the lives of children, especially children of color,” Bang asserts. “The College of Education has made impressive steps towards conducting work that better understands the breadth of learning environments, grappling with the multicultural realities of young peoples’ lives as well as making institutional commitments to integrating these foci in both undergraduate and graduate preparation…The combination of institutional efforts, accomplishments, and desires for future directions that I have learned about make me feel fortunate to become a part of the University of Washington community.”

Previously, Bang has served as a co-Principal Investigator on several grants. The National Science Foundation funded her renewal grant on the Cultural Context of Learning in Native American Science Education, in which Bang worked to design and implement culturally and community based science instruction in after-school settings at the American Indian Center in Chicago and the tribal school on the Menominee reservation. Bang also worked on an NSF funded project about Cross Cultural Understandings of the Biological World. This project used cognitive research to explore cross-cultural differences in children’s understanding of the biological world. In addition to these recent research projects, Bang serves on the editorial board of theJournal of American Indian Education and as an inquiry group member for the Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education.

Bang’s personal hobbies include music, sewing, traveling, and organized sports. Most recently she has dabbled in carpentry.

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