Media Mentions

AR Girls Present Results of Their Work on Interactive Digital Stories

October 30, 2018

From The Republican Journal:

Ten teen girls recently presented a showcase of their work designing Augmented Reality (AR) Experiences to a standing-room-only crowd of 30 people in the Fallout Shelter at Waterfall Arts.

The AR Girls project is a collaborative effort among the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Oregon State University Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, University of Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and Waterfall Arts.

Augmented Reality is a cutting edge technology in which users engage with hybrid media content, delivered through a computer or mobile device that has been programmed to coordinate and/or overlay over images from the real world, like Pokemon Go.

The AR Girls began working on their interactive digital stories in August during a two-week Summer Intensive where they learned to work in teams with science professionals to design games and create all the graphic and media content to program interactive stories.

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Wadewitz Students, Teacher Contribute to Wisconsin History Game

October 30, 2018

From The Journal Times:

Some Wadewitz Elementary students, along with one of their teachers, learned earlier this year about Wisconsin history while contributing to the development and testing of an online video game.

The game, called Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case, was produced by Wisconsin Public Television Education and Field Day Lab and was released Oct. 10.

“Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case, set in and around the Wisconsin State Capitol, assists educators in teaching history while engaging students as ‘history detectives’ to immerse them in the action,” according to a statement from WPT.

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Brillion Students Meet Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case

October 30, 2018

From The Brillion News:

Last fall, Keith Polkinghorne received a call from Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) Education wondering if he and his students would be interesting in testing out an online video game - Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case - as it was being developed. The request was happily granted.

"It was kind of out of the blue," Polkinghorne said. The longtime technology education teacher at Brillion Elementary School said that he thought the game was a great concept.

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WPT Video Game Tested Locally

October 30, 2018

From The Shawano Leader:

A new online video game is expected to grab children’s attention and not let them go.

Parents won’t have to worry much, though, as “Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case” is expected to stimulate — not rot — children’s brains and increase their appreciation for Wisconsin history. The game was released earlier this month on Wisconsin Public Television’s education website,

A cohort of teachers and students helped develop the game with WPT Education and Field Day Lab, an educational game developer within the University Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Lisa Sorlie, Bonduel School District’s library media specialist, and almost 150 students from Bonduel Elementary School helped test the game.

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The Capitol Case

October 30, 2018

From The Waukesha Freeman:

From the moment you open the game “Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case,” you can tell the titular character is an adventurer at heart. That’s perfect because the young girl was created to teach students in grades three through five about social studies, English and technology as they follow clues.

Players accompany Jo around the state Capitol and more as they also become adventurers and attempt to tell the true story behind several Wisconsin artifacts. Students can’t prove their case without sharing evidence or their sources, as they learn how to work with primary sources. The game was developed with the help of several Wisconsin elementary teachers, including Hillcrest Elementary teacher Boyd Roessler and Hadfield Elementary teacher Jennifer Guckenberger.

“It was all kind of designed as a centennial celebration of the state Capitol,” said Roessler. “2017 was the centennial of the current building, so they wanted this game to kind of be part of that event.”

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WPT Education’s Capitol Game Gets Top Score

October 30, 2018

From Wisconsin Public Television:

This October, WPT Education was excited to introduce Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case, a free online video game set in and around the Wisconsin State Capitol, that assists educators in teaching social studies, while giving students the chance to be “history detectives.”

Nikki Lutzke, a teacher partner in the Parkview School District, said, “[Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case] brought learning to us concretely… and forever changed how this teacher views learning about and teaching history!”

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Elmwood Elementary Students Help Develop Online Video Game

October 30, 2018

From the Pierce County Herald:

The Oct. 10 release of the online video game Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case on not only gave elementary level students a new way to have fun while learning at school, but it also put Elmwood Elementary on the map throughout the state.

Fourth grade teacher George Klink, along with a number of his students, contributed to the development and testing of the game over the last two years.

"When we started this project, I was teaching fifth grade, which was two years ago. The kids were instrumental in giving thoughts about where things were that didn't seem to operate correctly ... as well as the music and a lot of other parts of the game," Klink said. "How exciting is it that a school like Elmwood was chosen to be part of this? I had no idea what the process was going to be. Certainly, the time that they put into it has shown that they came up with a really great project. To have our say on anything of this nature is really pretty spectacular."

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Matthews Receives NSF Award to Study Ways to Help Students Better Understand the Equal Sign

September 27, 2018

From UW-Madison School of Education:

UW-Madison’s Percival Matthews is the principal investigator on a new National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that’s designed to examine ways to promote equal sign knowledge among school children.

The researchers will test the effectiveness of brief episodes of instruction over the course of a semester to build children’s understanding of the equal sign and associated gains in algebraic thinking. Participants in the research will be elementary- and middle- school students.

Matthews is an assistant professor with the School of Education's No. 1-ranked Department of Educational Psychology and he heads the Mathematics Education Learning and Development Lab. The research team will include co-principal investigators Martha Alibali and Ana Stephens. Alibali is a UW-Madison professor of psychology and an investigator with the School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), while Stephens is an associate researcher with WCER.

The NSF award, for more than $670,000 over the next three years, is for a project titled, “Cultivating Knowledge of Mathematical Equivalence.” 

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Siftr: A Tool for the Folklore Classroom

September 21, 2018

From the Journal of Folklore and Education:

Siftr is a freely available data collection and visualization platform that allows users to upload and geotag images and record and share associated notes and field observations. The application was developed by an interdisciplinary team of educational researchers, software engineers, and humanists at the UW known collectively as Field Day. When interacting with Siftr, users can add and view field observations using either a specific mobile application (available for iOS and Android devices) or through the Siftr website. In what follows, we present examples of Siftr projects incorporated into elementary, intermediate, and advanced undergraduate UW folklore courses to illustrate the potential and adaptability of this instructional resource to teach students about the richness and complexities of the world around them. Siftr provides a kinetic and visual activity that takes place most often in the outdoors and in the spontaneity of performed culture, but it also dovetails well with in-class activities and theoretical discussions. It is a platform that readily adapts to group projects and invites interaction and discussion that can enrich a folklore classroom, helping students contemplate the myriad ways in which culture is enacted in local contexts.

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Jackson Featured in Diverse Issues in Higher Education

September 20, 2018

WeiLAB director Jerlando F.L. Jackson was featured in the September 20 issue of Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

From the article

Dr. Jerlando F.L. Jackson remembers attending a session on career trajectories for faculty at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Higher Education early in his academic career.

“In that session, one of the papers focused on special professorships,” recalls Jackson, who paid close attention to the presenters because up until that moment, he had not heard of any such special distinctions above being a full professor. “However, on that day, I learned about the role and distinction of distinguished, endowed and university professorships. It was presented as the highest honor that a university could bestow on a faculty member. It became clear to me then that I needed to set my career goals on obtaining one of more of these distinctions.”

Seven years after Jackson began teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an assistant professor, he earned tenure in 2007, was promoted to full professor in 2011, and then was named a Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education in 2012. Created by the Vilas Estate Trustees, the professorships are university-wide distinctions with approximately 30 recipients. Jackson was the first African American to be selected for this high honor. 

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STEM faculty receive $10 million grant to advocate inclusivity and opportunity for undergraduates

September 11, 2018

From The Daily Cardinal:

The National Science Foundation revealed a $10 million award to boost involvement in STEM programs at UW-Madison. This will also prove as an opportunity to provide underrepresented students with the chance to thrive in the program.

NSF INCLUDES will be co-led by UW-Madison’s Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The funds will be given over a five-year period to build on the initiatives introduced in 2016.

UW-Madison will partner with a plethora of other universities and two-year colleges to diversify the STEM faculty and educate them on inclusive teaching methods.

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UW Gets $10 Million Grant to Diversify STEM Faculty

September 11, 2018

From Madison365:

To broaden participation in STEM programs and fields, the National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $10 million INCLUDES Alliance grant to be co-led by UW-Madison’s Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

CIRTL is a collaborative network of 39 research universities based in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) within UW‒Madison’s School of Education, according to a press release from the university, and funding for this new alliance builds on an earlier NSF INCLUDES pilot project awarded to CIRTL in 2016.

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Can Video Games Change Your Brain? UW Research Suggests Games Can Build Empathy

September 11, 2018


MADISON, Wis. - New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows video games may have the power to help children develop empathy and socially beneficial behaviors such as generosity.

At Gear Learning, the mission is to improve lives, and the studio does so by creating worlds.

“So far, we haven’t had a failure yet, or a content area we couldn’t design,” director Mike Beal said.

Gear Learning is a game development studio that is part of the Wisconsin Institute for Education Research at UW-Madison.

“We now know you can absolutely have fun while learning,” Beal said.

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The Science and Art of Mentoring

September 10, 2018

Christine Pfund, Director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER), recently published an article in ASCB.

From ASCB:

We often do not seize the numerous opportunities we are afforded to shape the learning experiences of our mentees, let alone influence the environments in which those experiences transpire. We do not frequently enough embrace the art of mentoring.

Stretching beyond Best Practices
Contemplate the scenario of working with a new undergraduate or graduate student. Experienced mentors, using evidence-based practices, understand the importance of helping new mentees develop a research project, establishing and aligning clear expectations for the relationship, and communicating regularly and effectively. Some best practices toward achieving these aims include 1) thoughtful, intentional project design that takes into account the mentee’s background and interests; 2) use of written mentoring compacts (examples can be found at, and 3) regular conversations using active listening strategies. 

Yet even the most skilled mentors can stretch beyond these best practices. They can improve the learning experiences they are shaping by purposely providing opportunities for the mentees to network and engage with others, finding ways for mentees to immerse themselves in the discipline, fostering a sense of belonging within the research team and the department, and creating spaces for mentees to share their ideas.

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Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work

August 20, 2018

From New Books Network:

How can educators ensure that young people who attain a postsecondary credential are adequately prepared for the future? Matthew T. Hora and his co-authors, Ross Benbow and Amanda Oleson, explain that the answer is not simply that students need more specialized technical training to meet narrowly defined employment opportunities. Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work (Harvard Education Press, 2016) challenges this conception of the “skills gap,” highlighting instead the value of broader twenty-first-century skills in postsecondary education. They advocate for a system in which employers share responsibility along with the education sector to serve the collective needs of the economy, society, and students.

The study, set in Wisconsin, takes place against the backdrop of heated political debates over the role of public higher education. This thoughtful and nuanced account, enriched by keen observations of postsecondary instructional practice, promises to contribute new insights to the rich literature on workforce development and to provide valuable guidance for postsecondary faculty and administrators.

Read more.