Welcome to the Advancing Learning Lab!
Under the direction of Dr. Cristina Zepeda and together with students and teachers, we investigate how to improve student learning by drawing upon cognitive, educational, and social psychology. Typically our studies are with middle school through college age students. We ask questions such as: How can we support students to use effective learning strategies? Do certain learning activities spark different types of motivation? How can we prepare learners for future learning experiences?
If you are interested in collaborating or running a study in your classroom, please contact us.
The Advancing Learning Lab is a place where we ALL work together to understand how to improve students’ learning experiences.
Our Commitment to Inclusivity
The acronym for our lab is ALL, and we chose this name for a reason. We strive to create a community where ALL are welcome, ALL belong, and ALL feelings, thoughts, and ideas are heard and validated.
We understand that this statement is just the beginning of our work and that our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion really begins when there are actions to back up these words. For us, our actions focus on how our research can impact the community to create more equitable supports for learners. To facilitate these actions and have better insights into the issues at hand, we begin by connecting with students and teachers from various backgrounds.
To create a community of belonging, we strive to implement action within three areas of our reach:
1. Our Lab: Throughout the semester, we aim to build community between members of the lab by holding regular lab meetings where we discuss a range of relevant topics. These topics include how equity, diversity, and inclusion can be implemented into our research practices and theoretical approaches. We also hold a space for students to improve their analytical and communication skills by having them select and lead a discussion on articles authored by BIPOC authors (see link for a living list). Lastly, we are always aiming to improve our lab culture and policies. Our policies will continually be up for discussion and revision based on the collaborative feedback of all lab members. We achieve this through informal lab meeting discussions and an anonymous feedback form that anyone working in the lab can fill out (see the form to submit feedback here).
2. Our Research: One of the key pillars of our research is discovering how students learn best. This cannot be achieved through only one type of school, one type of class, or one type of perspective; therefore, we aim to create a broad reach when recruiting for studies and visiting classrooms. As we get our lab off the ground and running, we plan to visit and work with many public and private schools on all ends of the SES spectrum and with varying identity backgrounds. From these interactions, we strive to broaden our research contexts and integrate what we learn into theory and practice.
3. The Greater Community: While our lab is just getting started, we do plan to become more involved with our community as we grow. Research does not happen in a bubble, and without the help of the community, we would not be able to conduct our work; we, therefore, find it important that we are giving back to this same community. While our big dreams are still being developed, we are working to connect with local educators, students, and schools in order to tell them a little bit about our work and how we might be able to help with teaching or learning strategies. We also remain active in campus life. For example, Dr. Zepeda is giving a research talk at Peabody’s Diversity and Inclusion Preview Weekend and is a member of the inaugural Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball Leadership Circle. She also values her role as a mentor in helping students navigate higher education and research opportunities. At a national level, Dr. Zepeda advocates for early career researchers. She is doing so as a member-at-large for APA Div 3 and recently contributed to Psychonomic Society’s #WeNeedEDI digital event with suggestions on how search committees can be more equitable and inclusive (see her post here).