The Mind, Matter & Media Lab (M3Lab) is a Learning Sciences research lab at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College, directed by Prof. Pratim Sengupta. Our research involves designing programmable and models-based learning platforms, as well as conducting investigations on human cognition of physical, biological and mathematical phenomena. Our focal research areas are listed below.
As designers, we are interested in designing new forms of learning technologies so that they can make complex scientific and mathematical phenomena, and related epistemic practices and reasoning accessible to young learners. These tools include computation-based learning environments such as visual programming and modeling languages, computational models and simulations, participatory simulations, etc. An example is the ViMAP programming language and modeling platform. A central characteristic of these learning environments is that they are low-threshold and high-ceiling.
Research along this strand is primarily in the form of mixed-method studies of how children develop computational, mathematical and scientific thinking and formal representational practices using the learning technologies developed by our lab. Studies include both lab-based studies, as well as classroom-wide implementations.
As cognitive scientists, we are interested in the structure, form and function of human knowledge, particularly, in the context of understanding and learning physical, biological, social and mathematical phenomena, as well as computational thinking. Our current studies focus on how experts develop disciplinary lenses to make sense of the world around them, and conversely, how everyday experiences and non-canonical phenomena shape their disciplinary perceptions. Our work has implications for basic research in cognitive science, as well as science education research.