Full PLAI lab group photo

Who We Are

At PLAI, we’re serious about play. As a team of researchers, designers, and educators, we’re committed to collaborating with teachers, learners, and families to pioneer learning experiences and assessment tools that decenter the notion of a “typical” student and prioritizes the diverse racial, cultural, linguistic, and neurological assets and identities of learners across formal and informal environments.

Located within the Center for Research on Complex Thinking, the Playful Learning and Assessment for Impact (PLAI) Lab is dedicated to advancing education research through rigorous and evidence-based design and analysis. We hold no false belief in the qualitative/quantitative binary that so often divides research communities. Instead, we understand the dilemmas facing our contemporary education landscape require both ethnographic and computational approaches–and everything in-between–to get a grip on the nature of challenges encountered by teachers, learners, and families; particularly for those whom the U.S. school system has primarily operated to assimilate and/or alienate.

This Feels Loaded

We aim to support all learners, teachers, families, and communities by creating and investigating playful ways of learning and assessing in formal and informal settings. We foreground social justice as our core commitment, and aim to contribute to equitable and asset based assessment and learning.   

As a group, we wholeheartedly refuse to assimilate. This concretely means that we critically examine unjust practices in education and educational research by constantly challenging what’s viewed and accepted as the gold standards. 

We believe play/playfulness can create safe and inclusive opportunities for learners, teachers, and families to engage in authentic and asset-based learning and assessment, and we use playfulness as a design lens to create opportunities and conduct design experiments that bring equitable assessment and learning forward.

Get Connected

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Follow us on Twitter: @plai_lab