PhD student Priyanka Agarwal presented her research, conducted in association with Tesha Sengupta Irving of Vanderbilt University's Peabody College, at the 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) in London, June 23-27. The title of her presentation was "Power as a Lens: A Critical Revision to Productive Disciplinary Engagement." In her talk, Ms. Agarwal argued for a critical revision to one of the most cited and used frameworks in the learning sciences by Engle & Conant (2002), to explicitly attend to power, race, and politics in studies of disciplinary engagement and learning.
ICLS is a major international event, which gathers people involved in all aspects of the field of the learning sciences, including empirical, conceptual, theoretical, design-based, practitioner and policy perspectives
Engle and Conant’s (2002) articulation of productive disciplinary engagement (PDE) highlights problematizing, resources, intellectual authority and accountability as important principles for designing learning environments. Yet, in the years since their writing, the field has advanced significantly in its articulation of power in relation to learning. Students’ disciplinary engagement is not only dependent on how they author, share or convince others of their ideas, but also how such practices invoke issues of power. This suggests a need to revise the framework to engage specifically with what are now readily understood as racialized, classed, and gendered dimensions of learning. In this paper, we bring the issues of power to the forefront to explore the equity potential of the PDE framework. This preliminary move – which centers on the promise of positioning as a principle – is a starting point for the field in working toward a more integrated understanding of power and disciplinary learning.