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USU Prof's Innovative Use of Technology in Schools Prompts National Award

Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013

USU professor Victor Lee

USU instructional technology and learning services faculty member Victor Lee, recipient of the Hawkins Award presented by the American Educational Research Association.

Victor Lee, a faculty member in Utah State University’s Department of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences, is currently involved in designing and researching the use of physical activity data technologies, such as accelerometers, heart rate monitors, and high-speed cameras as tools for young students to engage in data analysis. His previous studies showed significant learning gains for students who used these technologies. Working with students, his team has helped children explore how heart rates compared among twins and across ages, using fellow students and staff at the school as research subjects.

“This has been an exciting opportunity to for our team here at Utah State to be the first to use these technologies to help students learn big ideas in math and science,” Lee said. “The kids get a real chance to own the ideas by using these technologies.”

This year, Lee has gone even further in his research and has co-taught in two 5th grade classes at Edith Bowen Laboratory School. Last fall, Lee and the fifth grade students were using a Fit Bit to look at everyday activities, such as counting how many steps a particular child takes in one day. Then the students began statistical data analysis. The 5th grade class also created and designed an experiment and used 1st and 4th grade classes as subjects.

This spring [2013], he taught the students how to use high-speed cameras to get high-resolution slow motion video; such as the ones you see while watching sports instant replays. The students have then worked on recreating some of the slow motion movements using new animation software originally developed at Tufts University in Boston and generously donated to Lee’s project.

“For me the opportunities for real learning will often be bigger than what is measured by test scores; I want to find ways for students to appreciate both how relevant and challenging STEM content can be,” said Lee.

The work has received national attention as well. Later this month, Lee will receive the 2013 Jan Hawkins Award for early career contributions to humanistic research and scholarship in learning technologies from the leading educational research organization in the country, the American Educational Research Association. The prestigious award, named after the late renowned developmental psychologist Jan Hawkins, is given to one or two of the most innovative young scholars nationally each year whose body of work demonstrates powerful new ways to think about technologies in education.

Lee is the first recipient from an institution in the Rocky Mountain region and the first ever from Utah State University.

Beth Foley, dean of USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services commended Lee.

“I am not surprised, of course, because Victor’s professional contributions are consistently outstanding,” she said. “Still, I am delighted to see that his national peer group — which includes the top educational technologists in the world — are recognizing his work as innovative and important.”

Lee has previously been a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the most prestigious award given by the foundation for early career scholars who integrate excellence in both research and teaching.

In recognition of the Jan Hawkins award, he will give an invited address on his work at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia.

Lee is a learning scientist and instructional technologist who studies the intersections of student cognition, external representations and emerging technologies. His most recent design and development work involves creating and studying the use of innovative new materials to support K-12 teaching and learning in STEM subject areas. He previously served as chair of AERA’s Special Interest Group for Advanced Technologies for Learning.

Related links:

USU Department of Instructional Technology and Learning Services

USU Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services

Contact: Victor Lee, 435-797-7562,

Writer: Amanda Harris, 214-909-7484

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