Expanded Work on Understanding Families’ Use of Technology During Remote Learning in the COVID-19 Pandemic


Three UW PhD students, including Akeiylah DeWitt and Calvin Liang in HCDE and Anh Le in the Information School, were selected as CERES scholars, which helped them connect to a broader community of researchers interested in youth and stretch their research interests beyond their own scope of their initial research areas.

The support also allowed for the team to lay the groundwork for admitting three new PhD students in Autumn 2022, including Adrian Rodriguez, with a strong interest in accessibility and education, and Aayushi Dangol, a former teacher with a strong interest in designing educational technology, and Ziyue Irene Le in the Information School that will be funded by CERES in the coming years. We also are in the process of recruiting a new postdoc to be supported by CERES, which will allow for more cross-collaborative work within the UW team and with other institutions (e.g., Kientz is starting a new collaboration with Petr Slovak’s team at King’s College London on family informatics and mental health).

CERES support also expanded our work on understanding families’ use of technology during remote learning in the COVID-19 pandemic, led by Professor Julie Kientz, and on designing conversational agents to support children’s socioemotional development, led by Professor Alexis Hiniker. We used CERES support to create a joint research assistantship opportunity for PhD student, Rebecca Michelson, who contributed to a project to design a conversational system that coaches children in practicing compassion for self and others. The formative work for this project was published in the IMWUT journal in 2022 and will be presented at the 2022 Ubiquitous Computing (“UbiComp”) conference. We are currently pilot testing a working version of the system to be evaluated this summer in a field deployment with families. Finally, CERES support has also helped Anh Le, working with Professor Jason Yip, for research in online search and brokering in Vietnamese families and youth.

We anticipate continuing work on the following projects:

  • Work on developing methodologies for Youth Advisory Boards and co-design activities for engaging youth in education on sensitive topics like sex education, lead by CERES scholar Calvin Liang and Julie Kientz in colloaboration with Seattle Children’s Research.
  • Work on engaging families from diverse cultural backgrounds in co-designing new tools for promoting family-based health, led by CERES scholar Akeiylah DeWitt and Julie Kientz.
  • Deployment study of new voice assistants for teaching younger children self-talk skills and social emotional development, led by Alexis Hiniker, Rebecca Michelson, and Julie Kientz

And starting new work on the following projects:

  • Work on accessible educational interfaces for children, led by incoming PhD student Adrian Rodriguez and Julie Kientz and HCDE professor Leah Findlater. We hope to collaborate with fellow CERES scholar Jeff Bigham on this work.
  • Work on foundational work for new educational technology experiences around data science and youth, led by incoming PhD student Aayushi Dangol, Julie Kientz, and Sayamindu Dasgupta.