story by Claire Miller
College of Education & Human Development Assistant Professor Natalie R. Davis was named a 2021 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow.
Davis was one of 25 scholars across the country selected for the fellowship, which provides early-career researchers with $70,000 to use toward research projects and professional development.
Davis is a faculty member in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education’s master’s program in creative and innovative education. She is a former postdoctoral fellow in learning sciences at Northwestern University, where she employed micro-ethnographic and interactional methods to study children’s thinking and self-determination in a STEAM-focused tinkering after-school program.
Broadly, her research explores the relationship between teaching and learning, cultural ecologies and the sociopolitical development of children from non-dominant communities, with emphasis on the educational experiences and “freedom dreams” of urban-based Black children. Davis has collaborated with museums, nonprofit youth-serving organizations and schools to design curriculum and conduct professional development workshops on topics related to creativity, science learning and the enactment of critical pedagogies. She is a recipient of the AERA-Division G Distinguished Dissertation and Dimond Dissertation awards.
She will use the funding on a project entitled, “Leveraging Black Children’s Sociopolitical Understandings in Justice-Oriented Elementary Teaching,” which will allow her to study learning and design in conjunction with a workshop series for justice-oriented teachers.
“This fellowship opportunity is especially meaningful because it affirms the timeliness and significance of my work on sociopolitical learning and childhood,” Davis said. “I am looking forward to collaborating with justice-oriented elementary educators and studying/designing professional learning opportunities that draw from the political savvy and brilliance of Black children.
For more information about the fellowship, visit https://naeducation.org/welcome-2021-naed-spencer-dissertation-and-postdoctoral-fellows-and-research-development-awardees.