An artist by training, I engage in research that focuses on the intersection of arts, new media, computation, and informal learning. My current work examines the media arts practices of urban, rural, and (dis)abled youth in order to support literacy, learning, and the arts in the 21st Century. This research is currently or has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Education, the Wallace Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Moore Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative.
For a sortable list of work related to my research interests, please see the publications section of this website.
- 2007–2008: Post-Doc — University of California, Irvine
- Postdoctoral Research Associate,
- Uncovering Literacies, Disrupting Stereotypes: Media Arts Practices of Youth with (Dis)Abilities
- Supervisor: Mark Warschauer
- 2007: Ph.D in Education — University of California, Los Angeles
- Dissertation: Creative Bytes: Literacy and Learning in the Media Arts Practices of Urban Youth
- Committee: James Catterall, Yasmin Kafai, Ernest Morrell, and C.E.B. Reas
- 2002: B.A. — Indiana University, Bloomington
- Psychology, French, and Studio Art
Assistant Professor: Indiana University Bloomington
from 2008 to present day
Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences
As Director of the Creativity Labs, housed in IU's Center for Research on Learning and Technology (CRLT), I bring together educators, designers, artists, and learning theorists interested in constructionist and hands-on, design-based learning. The lab focuses on computational tools and materials used within youth communities that support learning by leveraging youths’ interests in digital culture, design, and making.
One of my primary research interests is the exploration of how youth engage with computation beyond the screen (e.g., through aspects of physical computing, crafting and design). A primary focus of this work is on computational textiles (or e-textiles)—textile artifacts that are computationally generated or that contain embedded computers like the LilyPad Arduino—which capture youths’ pre-existing interests in new media, fashion, and design while supporting learning and creativity in computer science, arts, design, and engineering (Buechley, Peppler, Eisenberg, & Kafai, 2013). When youth produce e-textile artifacts, their work leaves the constraints of the screen and follows them into their peer and family settings, potentially transforming their relationships to STEM content areas and sparking relevant conversations. E-Textiles have been shown to broaden STEM participation in youth communities by leveraging e-textiles as an alternative approach to computing education. My recent findings indicate that introducing such novel, cross-disciplinary technologies can broaden participation, particularly by women (Buechley, Peppler, Eisenberg & Kafai, 2013; Peppler, 2013) as well as improve learning outcomes (Peppler & Glosson, 2012; Peppler 2013).
While the major focus of my work is studying how new technologies support learning, I also design new learning environments and educational applications. Most notable of these design efforts is BioSim, a participatory simulation enhanced with e-puppetry that provides a context for classroom teachers to enable embodied, first-person explorations of complex biological systems (Peppler et al., 2010; Danish, Peppler, Phelps & Washington, 2011). These pilot designs have been featured in a host of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) outlets, including Craftzine.com, Instructables.com and MAKE magazine and have won numerous awards within these communities. Continuing this work, I was also recently awarded a new NSF Cyberlearning grant to pursue this work at a larger scale (Peppler, Danish, & Moczek; $1,000,000; August 2013-July 2016).
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
During my postdoctoral research position with Dr. Mark Warschauer, we collaboratively investigated the utility of the Scratch visual programming environment for non-dominant learners. Together, we found this to be a highly motivating introduction to computer programming for children who would otherwise not engage with this important practice (Peppler & Warschauer, 2012). In addition to notable benefits for English Language Learners, we found Scratch to be an effective tool to foster traditional literacy development for students with a range of disabilities but particularly those with cognitive disabilities.
Graduate Research Assistant: UCLA
A natural extension of my arts background came through my work with Dr. James Catterall, where I investigated the nature of arts learning in several notable projects funded by the Ford Foundation as well as the US Department of Education. In this work, we explored how childrens' creativity and worldview was positively impacted by High-Quality Visual Arts Education (HQVAE). We also worked to create new measures for a range of arts learning, as well as document and evaluate rich models of arts education.
Seeking to forge an understanding of how new technologies are transforming the arts, I began working with with Dr. Yasmin Kafai and Dr. Mitchel Resnick on the NSF-sponsored development and early study of the visual programming language, Scratch (scratch.mit.edu). Scratch was developed specifically for marginalized youth to develop fluency with computational technologies. What this mediated interface provides for youth (and what makes it fundamentally different from other programming languages) is an emphasis on media manipulation, which supports programming activities that resonate with the interests of youth, such as creating animated stories, games, and interactive presentations (Peppler, 2010; Kafai & Peppler, 2011; Peppler, Warschauer, & Diazgranados, 2010; Peppler & Kafai, 2010).
My dissertation work, sponsored by a fellowship from the Spencer Foundation, merged my interests in the arts and computational technology to examine into the ways in which a community of under-represented youth at a Computer Clubhouse (Kafai, Peppler, & Chapman, 2009) in South Los Angeles cultivated deep learning of core computer science and media arts concepts in Scratch (Peppler, 2007). This research was one of the first to assert that this type of learning in the arts and computer science can occur in informal learning communities (Maloney, Peppler, Kafai, Resnick, & Rusk, 2008a; Peppler & Kafai, in preparation). I have since written extensively to the arts and computer science education audiences on this subject, calling for curricula to focus on the “new fundamentals” of computer programming in the arts education curriculum (Peppler, 2010a/b). Such initiatives blend the arts with computation (a foundational concept of computer science and engineering fields).The online Scratch community has since grown to showcase millions of projects and the design work for Scratch was awarded the Eliot Pearson Award for Excellence in Children’s Media in 2008 and an Honorable Mention in the Digital Communities category of Prix Ars Electronica (one of the most distinguished awards in new media), in which my contribution to the early work on Scratch was recognized.
Filter publications by research type:SHOW ALL
- E-Textiles & Maker Culture
- Arts & Creativity
- Scratch & Computational Media
- Games & Social Media
- Interest-Driven Learning
- Systems Thinking
- Suggested Readings
- Peppler, K. (in press). Promoting Creativity and Innovation in Education. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts (PACA).
- Peppler, K. (in press). Informal music learning and making communities. In A. Ruthmann and R. Mantie (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education. Oxford University Press.
- Peppler, K. & Catterall, J.S. (in preparation, 2014). Learning and Achieving Through the Arts: A Collaborative Project of Inner-City Arts and Los Angeles Unified School District 4 (Deliverable to the U.S. Department of Education). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.
- Peppler, K., Wessel-Powell, C., Thompson, N., & Catterall, S. (in press). Positive Impacts of Arts Integration on Student Academic Achievement in English Language Arts. The Educational Forum.
- Kafai, Y. & Peppler, K. (2014). Transparency Reconsidered: Creative, Critical, and Connected Making with E-textiles. In M. Boler & M. Ratto (Eds.), DIY Citizenship. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
- Peppler, K. (2014). Foreword. In A. Garcia (ed.), Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.
- Peppler, K. (2014). New Creativity Paradigms: Arts Learning in the Digital Age. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
- Peppler, K., Gresalfi, M., Salen, K. & Santo, R. (2014). Soft Circuits: Crafting E-Fashion with DIY Electronics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Peppler, K., Salen, K., Gresalfi, M. & Santo, R. (2014). Short Circuits: Crafting E-Puppets with DIY Electronics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Peppler, K., Santo, R., Salen, K., & Gresalfi, M. (2014). Script Changers: Digital Storytelling with Scratch. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Portowitz, A., Peppler, K., Downton, M. & Lichtenstein, O. (2014). In Harmony: A Technology-based Music Education Program designed to improve children's musical understanding, cognitive skills, and inter-cultural understanding. International Journal of Music Education, 32(2).
- Salen, K., Gresalfi, M., Peppler, K., & Santo, R. (2014). Gaming the System: Designing with Gamestar Mechanic. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Buechley, L., Peppler, K., Eisenberg, M., & Kafai, Y. (Eds.) (2013). Textile Messages: Dispatches from the World of e-Textiles and Education. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
- McKay, C. & Peppler, K. (2013). MakerCart: A Mobile Fab Lab for the Classroom. Position Paper at the Interaction Design for Children Conference (IDC), New York, NY.
- Peppler, K. (2013). New Opportunities for Interest-Driven Arts Learning in a Digital Age. (Deliverable to the Wallace Foundation). Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University.
- Peppler, K. (2013). On Screen and Onstage: Interest-Driven Arts for Teens. Opera America, Fall 2013, 30-31.
- Peppler, K. (2013). Social Media and Creativity. In D. Lemish (Ed.), Routledge International Handbook of Children, Adolescents, and Media New York, NY, Routledge, 193-200.
- Peppler, K. (2013). STEAM-Powered Computing Education: Using E-Textiles to Integrate the Arts and STEM. IEEE Computer, September 2013, 38–43.
- Peppler, K. & Bender, S. (2013). Maker Movement spreads innovation one project at a time. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(3), 22-27.
- Peppler, K. & Glosson, D. (2013). Learning about Circuitry with E-textiles. In M. Knobel & C. Lankshear (Eds.), The New Literacies Reader, New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
- Peppler, K. & Glosson, D. (2013). Stitching Circuits: Learning About Circuitry Through E-Textile Materials. Journal of Science Education and Technology. October 2013, 22(5), 751-763.
- Peppler, K. & McKay, C. (2013). Broadening Participation and Issues of Inclusion and Accessibility in Making. Paper at the Interaction Design for Children Conference (IDC), New York, NY.
- Wohlwend, K. & Peppler, K. (2013). Designing with Pink Technologies and Barbie Transmedia. In G. M. Boldt & McArdle, F. (Eds.) Young Children, Pedagogy and the Arts: Ways of Seeing. New York, NY, Routledge, 129-145.
- Downton, M. P., Peppler, K. A., Portowitz, A., Bamberger, J. & Lindsay, E. (2012). Composing pieces for peace: Using Impromptu to build cross-cultural awareness. Visions of Research in Music Education, 20, 1-37.
- Kafai, Y. B. & Peppler, K. A. (2012). Developing Gaming Fluencies with Scratch: Realizing Game Design as an Artistic Process. In C. Steinkuehler, K. Squire and S. Barab (Eds.), Games, Learning, and Society: Learning and Meaning in the Digital Age. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
- Peppler, K. (2012). Scratch: digital art making. ChildArt Magazine, 12(1), Number 42. iv.
- Peppler, K. & Warschauer, M. (2012). Uncovering Literacies, Disrupting Stereotypes: Examining the (Dis)Abilities of a Child Learning to Computer Program and Read. International Journal of Learning and Media, 3(3), 15-41. doi:10.1162/IJLM_a_00073
- Danish, J., Peppler, K., Phelps, D. & Washington, D. (2011). Life in the Hive: Supporting Inquiry into Complexity within the Zone of Proximal Development. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(5), 454–467.
- Davis, H., Peppler, K. & Hickey, D. (2011). Assessment Assemblage: Advancing Portfolio Practice Through the Assessment Stage Theory. Studies in Arts Education, 52(3), 213-224.
- Downton, M., Peppler, K., & Bamberger, J. (2011). Talking Like a Composer: Negotiating shared musical compositions using Impromptu. Published In the proceedings of the 2011 Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) Conference. Hong Kong, China.
- Kafai, Y. & Peppler, K. (2011). Beyond Small Groups: New Opportunities for Research in Computer-Supported Collective Learning. Published in the proceedings of the 2011 Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) Conference. Hong Kong, China.
- Kafai, Y. & Peppler, K. (2011). Youth, Technology, and DIY: Developing Participatory Competencies in Creative Media Production. In V. L. Gadsden, S. Wortham, and R. Lukose (Eds.), Youth Cultures, Language and Literacy. Review of Research in Education, 35(1), 89-119.
- Peppler, K., Downton, M., Lindsay, E., & Hay, K. (2011). The Nirvana Effect: Tapping Video Games to Mediate Music Learning and Interest. International Journal of Learning and Media, 3(1), 41-59.
- Peppler, K., Fields, D., Kafai, Y., & Glosson, D. (2011). Articulating Creativity in a New Domain: Expert Insights from the Field of E-Textiles. Published in the ACM Cognition & Creativity Conference Proceedings. ACM: Atlanta, GA.
- Peppler, K. & Solomou, M. (2011). Building Creativity: Collaborative Learning and Creativity in Social Media Environments. On the Horizon, 19(1), 13-23. Also published in the proceedings of the 2010 International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Chicago, IL.
- Barab, S., Dodge, T., Ingram-Goble, A., Pettyjohn, P., Peppler, K., Volk, C., Solomou, M. (2010). Pedagogical Dramas and Transformational Play: Narratively-Rich Games for Education. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 17(3), 1-30. Also presented at the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS) 2009, LNCS 5915. Springer-Verlag: Berlin, Germany, 332–335.
- Danish, J., Peppler, K., & Phelps, D. (2010). BeeSign: Designing to Support Mediated Group Inquiry of Complex Science by Early Elementary Students. Published in the proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, Barcelona, Spain.
- Downton, M., Peppler, K. & Portowitz, A. (2010). Building tunes block by block: Constructing musical and cross-cultural understanding through Impromptu. Published in the proceedings of the 2010 Constructionism Conference, Paris, France.
- Horcher, A. M., Peppler, K., & Glosson, D. (2010). E-Textiles: the Softer Side of Computing. Published in the proceedings from the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, Atlanta, GA.
- Kafai, Y., Peppler, K., Burke, Q., Moore, M., & Glosson, D. (2010). Fröbel’s Forgotten Gift: Textile Construction Kits as Pathways into Play, Design and Computation. Published in the proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, Barcelona, Spain.
- Peppler, K. (2010). Media Arts: Arts Education for a Digital Age. Teachers College Record, 112(8), 2118–2153.
- Peppler, K. (2010). The New Fundamentals: Introducing Computation into Arts Education. In E. Clapp & M. J. Bellino (Eds.) 20Under40: Reinventing the Arts and Arts Education for the 21st Century, Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.
- Peppler, K., Danish, J., Zaitlen, B., Glosson, D., Jacobs, A., & Phelps, D. (2010). BeeSim: Leveraging Wearable Computers in Participatory Simulations with Young Children. Published in the proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, Barcelona, Spain.
- Peppler, K. & Davis, H. (2010). Arts and Learning: A Review of the Impact of Arts and Aesthetics on Learning and Opportunities for Further Research. Published in the proceedings of the 2010 International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Chicago, IL.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y. B. (2010). Gaming Fluencies: Pathways into a Participatory Culture in a Community Design Studio. International Journal of Learning and Media, 1(4), 1-14.
- Peppler, K., Warschauer, M., & Diazgranados, A. (2010). Game Critics: Exploring the Role of Critique in Game-design Literacies. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(1), 35-48.
- Kafai, Y.B., Peppler, K., & Chapman, R. (Eds.) (2009). The Computer Clubhouse: Creativity and Constructionism in Youth Communities. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
- Peppler, K. (2009). Evaluation of the Inner-City Arts Teachers’ Institute. (Deliverable to the Heller Foundation). Los Angeles: University of California.
- Peppler, K. & Alvarez, M. (2009). Evaluation of the Inner-City Arts Creativity in the Classroom Series. (Deliverable to the Heller Foundation). Los Angeles: University of California.
- Peppler, K., Catterall, J. & Feilen, K. (2009). Arts in the Middle: A Collaborative Project of Inner-City Arts and Los Angeles Unified School District 4 (Deliverable to the U.S. Department of Education). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y. (2009). Creative Coding: Programming for Personal Expression. Published in the proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), Rhodes, Greece.
- Kafai, Y. B., Desai, S., Peppler, K., Chiu, G. & Moya, J. (2008). Mentoring Partnerships in a Community Technology Center: A Constructionist Approach for Fostering Equitable Service Learning. Mentoring & Tutoring, 16(2), (May 2008), pp. 191-205, doi:10.1080/13611260801916614
- Maloney, J., Peppler, K., Kafai, Y.B., Resnick, M. & Rusk, N. (2008b). Media Designs with Scratch: What Urban Youth Can Learn about Programming in a Computer Clubhouse. Published in the proceedings of the 2008 International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Utrecht, Netherlands.
- Maloney, J., Peppler, K., Kafai, Y. B., Resnick, M. & Rusk, N. (2008a). Programming by Choice: Urban Youth Learning Programming with Scratch. Published in the proceedings by the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) conference, Portland, OR.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y.B. (2008a). Developing a Design Culture at the Computer Clubhouse: The Role of Local Practices and Mediators. Published in the proceedings of the 2008 International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Utrecht, Netherlands.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y. B. (2008b). Learning from Krumping: Collective Agency in Dance Performance Cultures. Published in the proceedings of the 2008 International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Utrecht, Netherlands.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y.B. (2008c). New Literacies and the Learning Sciences: A Framework for Understanding Youths’ Media Arts Practices. Published in the proceedings of the 2008 International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Utrecht, Netherlands.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y. (2008d). Youth as Media Art Designers: Workshops for Creative Codings. Published in the proceedings of the 2008 Interaction Design for Children (IDC) Conference held at Northwestern University, Chicago, IL.
- Catterall, J.S. & Peppler, K. (2007a). Learning in the Visual Arts and Worldviews of Young Children. Cambridge Journal of Education, 37(4), 543-560.DOI: 10.1080/03057640701705898
- Catterall, J.S. & Peppler, K. (2007b). Learning in the Visual Arts and Worldviews of Young Children: Lessons from Skid Row. Evaluating the Impact of Arts and Cultural Education: A European and International Research Symposium, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
- French translation: Catterall, J.S., & Peppler, K. (2007). Initiation aux arts visuels et vision du monde chez les jeunes enfants: quand confiance en son efficacité et originalité se rencontrent. In Symposium européen et international de researche: Évaluer les effets de l’éducation artistique et culturelle (283-293). Paris: La documentation Française.
- Kafai, Y., Peppler, K. & Chiu, G. (2007). High Tech Programmers in Low-Income Communities: Seeding Reform in a Community Technology Center. In C. Steinfield, B. Pentland, M. Ackerman, &. N. Contractor (Eds.), Communities and Technologies 2007 (545-564). New York: Springer.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y.B. (2007a). Collaboration, Computation, and Creativity: Media Arts Practices in Urban Youth Cultures. Published in the proceedings of the 2007 Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) Conference held at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y. (2007b). From SuperGoo to Scratch: exploring creative digital media production in informal learning. Learning, Media, and Technology, 32(2), 149-166. DOI:10.1080/17439880701343337
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y. B. (2007c). What video game making can teach us about learning and literacy: Alternative pathways into participatory culture. In Akira Baba (Ed.), Situated Play: Proceedings of the Third International Conference of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) (369-376). Tokyo, Japan: The University of Tokyo.
- Barron, B., Kafai, Y., Joseph, D., Pinkard, N., Resnick, M., Martin, C., Schatz, C., Shapiro, B., Millner, A., Peppler, K., Chiu, G. & Desai, S. (2006). Clubs, Homes, and Online Communities as Contexts for Engaging Youth in Technology Fluency Building Activities. Symposium and proceedings published in the 2006 International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Bloomington, IN.
- Kafai, Y., Peppler, K., Alavez, M. & Ruvalcaba, O. (2006). Seeds of a Computer Culture: An Archival Analysis of Programming Artifacts from a Community Technology Center . Proceedings Published in the 2006 International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Bloomington, IN.
- Peppler, K. (2006). Ryman Arts 2000-2006: An Overview of the Program and an Assessment of Student Portfolio Work (Deliverable to the Ryman Arts Program). Los Angeles: University of California.
- Peppler, K. & Catterall, J.S. (2006). Year Two Findings on the Arts Learning of Children enrolled in the LA’s BEST After School Arts Program (Deliverable to the LA’s BEST After-School Arts Program). Los Angeles: University of California.
- Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y. (2006). Creative Codings: Investigating Cultural, Personal, and Epistemological Connections in Media Arts Programming. Proceedings published in the 2006 International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Bloomington, IN.
Honors & Awards
- Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from Indiana University (2014). The awards, presented by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, honor tenure-track faculty who have begun to develop nationally recognized research or scholarship programs and devoted productive time to teaching and service, but who have not yet achieved tenure.
- “Be Great!” Award Recipient (2012) from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington in recognition for volunteer work technology lab work
- American Education Research Association (AERA) (2011) Highest Ranked Paper Submission Award in the Peace Education Special Interest Group (SIG)
- American Education Research Association (AERA) (2011) Best Emerging Media Paper in the Media, Culture & Curriculum (MCC) Special Interest Group (SIG)
- Indiana Governor’s Award for Tomorrow’s Leaders (2009). Top Award given to outstanding young leaders in the state of Indiana who have shown exemplary leadership under the age of 30
- Honorable Mention in Prix Arts Electronica in Community Art for work on the Scratch Online Community (2008). One of the highest international awards in the digital arts community
- Group Volunteer of the Year (2008) at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington for outstanding service to the organization
- Top Paper at the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Conference (2008)
- UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship (2007-2008)
- Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for Research Related to Education (2006-2007)
- Hoyt Foundation Fellowship (2004 – 2005). Graduate Fellowship awarded to recipients within the University of California schools
- Graduate Topical Seminar: Designing for Change (ED P647/Formerly P650), Indiana University
- Graduate Topical Seminar: Learning in New Media (ED P574), Indiana University
- Online Graduate Topical Seminar: Learning in New Media (ED P574), Indiana University
- Apprenticeship in the Learning Sciences (ED P573), Indiana University
- Educational Psychology for All Grades (ED P254), Indiana University
- Culture, Technology, and Human Development (ED 194B), UCLA
- Culture, Communications, and Human Development (ED 194C), UCLA
- Quantitative Statistics (PSYCH P211), Indiana University
- Neural Bases of Human Behavior (PSYCH E105), Indiana University
- Introductory Psychology (PSYCH P101), Indiana University