Katherine is a PhD candidate in Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her MA at the UW-Madison in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies with an emphasis in Theatre for Youth with Dr. Manon van de Water in 2018, and transferred to Ed Psych and Dr. Edward M. Hubbard’s lab to further pursue questions of performance and cognition. She completed her MS in 2020, and is currently dissertating.

Labs: Katherine primarily works with her advisor Dr. Edward M. Hubbard in the Educational Neuroscience Lab in the department of Educational Psychology. She also works with Dr. Erica Halverson in the Community Arts Research Collaboratory (an NEA Research Lab) in the department of Curriculum & Instruction.

Current Projects:

  • “UW Community Arts Collaboratory Research Lab: mixed methods research for understanding how arts education leads to social emotional learning skills and growth for students and teachers” – funded by the NEA
  • “Assessment and Out-of-School Time Arts Learning for Diverse Youth” – funded by the Wallace Foundation
  • “Teaching Artists and Antiracism in Out-of-School Time Theatre Programs” – funded by the UW-Madison Division of the Arts Creative Arts Award
  • Wonderground Evaluation Project – in partnership with the Madison Children’s Museum
  • “Where Does Pretend Play Go? A Lifespan Developmental Perspective” – dissertation research

Upcoming Conferences: Out-of-School-Time Youth Arts Programs: What Are the Big Juicy Questions?-a symposium presentation at the 2022 meeting of AERA, with co -authors Halverson, E., Tunstall, J., Saplan, K., Stoiber, A., Probst, C., Bryant, J. & Rueda, M.

Antiracism in Out-of-School Time Theatre Programs: A Pilot Study – a panel presented at the 2022 meeting of Children, Youth, and Performance (CYP), with co-authors Saplan, K. & Mattaini, M.

Research interests: I study make-believe! Growing out of practical experiences as an actor and teaching artist, my research revolves around questions regarding the cognitive mechanisms that underlie pretend play/drama and the ways that pretending impacts learning and development. Based primarily within the psychological domains of human development, cognitive neuroscience, and embodied cognition, my work is interested in how applying mixed methods designs can merge the specificity and generalizability of quantitative research with the flexibility and depth of qualitative research to construct nuanced, meaningful understandings of art and development. The bounded pretend space created by make-believe serves as a fruitful research site for questions regarding how people learn and make meaning. It’s also really fun.

For an introduction to some of my questions, check out my article The Reality of Pretending on the Illuminating Discovery Hub.

(For a full list of projects, conferences, teaching, and publications, please request CV)

The Whoopensocker Show! at Thoreau Elementary School