Katie Davis receives 2015 NSF CAREER Award

Katie Davis, assistant professor at the UW iSchool, has received the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. The award will provide Davis with $759,462 over five years to investigate how networked technologies can be leveraged to develop learners’ STEM identities and connect their STEM learning across informal and formal contexts.

The project, “Digital Badges for STEM Education,” will develop and implement a digital badge system to recognize and reward the skills and achievements of a diverse group of high school students participating in a science-based afterschool program at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. This work aims to develop strong STEM identities among students who are currently underrepresented in STEM subject areas and encourage these students to pursue future STEM learning and career opportunities. The research findings will be used to develop educational outreach initiatives, distributed widely, to support other formal and informal learning institutions in their use of digital badges to support STEM learning.

“I’m thrilled to receive this early career award from the NSF, which will allow me to pursue my research on strategies for incorporating new media technologies into learning environments in ways that resonate with young people, including their interests, goals, and everyday technology use,” says Davis.

Davis studies the role of digital media technologies in teens’ lives. In her current work, she is exploring the educational opportunities of networked technologies to promote learners’ STEM identities and connect their STEM learning in meaningful ways across formal and informal learning settings. Davis is the co-author with Howard Gardner of The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World (2013, Yale University Press). She holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate in Human Development and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. In addition to publishing and presenting her research in scholarly venues, Davis regularly shares her work with parents, teachers, business leaders, and policymakers in an effort to build connections between research and practice.

The CAREER Program offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. The Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) expects to fund approximately 13% of the proposals it received in FY 2014.

Davis is the fourth iSchool recipient of the award. Associate Professors Jacob Wobbrock, Andy J. Ko and Julie Kientz, were given the CAREER award in 2010. Kientz now works in the department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at UW.