Hi! I’m Lauren Herckis.

I am a Carnegie Mellon University anthropologist who explores the ways that people engage with novel technologies, how innovation shapes culture, the potential of virtual spaces to function as meaningful social places, and how social networks dynamically impact technical choices.

About Me

I’m part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Simon Initiative, University Libraries, and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science. A Fulbright recipient, my work has also been funded by the National Science Foundation, the California Education Learning Labs, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Hillman Family Foundations. I have spent my career working in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research design and execution, in public, private, and non-profit contexts, and across a variety of disciplinary domains. Before joining the Carnegie Mellon Faculty, I worked with the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

Implementation Science for Postsecondary Education

My postdoctoral and subsequent research have shown that Carnegie Mellon faculty experience substantial barriers to adopting evidence-based research data management practices, are hesitant to adopt innovative technology-enhanced learning (TEL) tools, and face numerous challenges in accessing and adopting novel pedagogies. The development of an implementation science for postsecondary education is itself novel, but work in related fields suggests that this approach can support institutional transformation. Recent projects identified effective strategies for supporting evidence-based improvement and implementation of technology-enabled teaching tools in colleges and universities. An applied research agenda lays the groundwork for this broader effort while supporting practitioner training in evidence-based, ethical, educational design.

Understanding Campus Culture and Institutional Transformation

In an ever-changing sociotechnical landscape, the design and successful implementation of just-in-time tools and services depends on a deep understanding of campus culture. Bridging the gap between research and practice requires carefully-tailored implementation strategies that are deeply informed by learners and their context. Mapping a postsecondary sociotechnical landscape requires mixed-methods approach. I used this approach in a recent multi-institutional project, entitled Community Sourced, Data-Driven Improvements to Open, Adaptive Courseware, with some success. With Carnegie Mellon colleagues, I developed an innovative methodological approach to capturing the complexity of robotics laboratories as a social phenomenon. Our integrated mixed-methods approach utilized ethnographic field methods to assess cultural meaning in situ, evaluate and collect information, identify contextually meaningful artifacts, and prepare a complex collection for future, as-yet-unknown audiences. The resulting Digital Robotics Archive and Multimodal Archive Toolkit will serve future institutional transformation efforts both by serving as a proof-of-concept model for other institutions.

Advancing Learning Science

My ongoing research efforts analyze the impact and implementation of specific pedagogical approaches, the effects of faculty decision-making on outcomes for students, and the development of new teaching tools for postsecondary education. Many of these projects focus on the impact of specific technology-enhanced pedagogies, such as VR tools in the classroom. One recently funded effort, A New Bridge to the Digital Economy: Integrated AI-Augmented Learning and Collaboration, will identify the impact of diverse strategies for accelerating learning through the evidence-based implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences in community colleges.