Pooja Paul is a Ph.D. student in the Mind, Brain, and Behavior track in the department of Linguistics at Harvard. Her research interests are in visual communication, the intersection of linguistics, philosophy, and psychology, and the cross-roads between science and art.
As a As Media, Literacy, and Visualization Fellow at the Bok Center, Pooja has organized a series of videos where students in the MBB track in various departments explain their research. She also organized a workshop for Bok fellows and affiliates that parsed the pedagogy of “learning styles.”
Mind, Brain, and Behavior Video Series
While an MLV Fellow, Pooja began a video series where the graduate students in MBB can share their research. As MBB is an “initiative” at Harvard, rather than a full department, the students whose research falls under the category of MBB come from a broad range of departments—psychology, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, among them—most of which use specific methods and languages native to their fields and distinct from one another. Pooja’s video series then responds to a marked need within the MBB community: to have the tools and platform to explain one’s research to other MBB students. An apt example is the first installment of the MBB video series, which features philosophy student Zoe Jenkin, whose research utilizes developmental psychology to question existing theses that are still prevalent in philosophy. Zoe, like future presenters in the MBB video series, uses the mode of the short video as a platform for explaining complicated ideas by means of simple language paired with complementary visual materials.
Converting Science into Pedagogy: What is Lost in Translation and What Can Be Gained
This past year, Pooja hosted a workshop entitled “Converting Science into Pedagogy” that explored, by means of contextualizing readings and group discussions, the current debate amongst educators surrounding the myth or veracity of different “learning styles,” the idea, originated by Howard Gardner, that a single person can have multiple intelligences. From the discussion emerged the thesis that there is a certain validity to the argument while also highlighting the particular capacity—and, participants concluded, responsibility—of scientists and other academics to influence education policy. Researchers are uniquely capable of translating their academic findings into conclusions that can help build a better classroom, and perhaps one that applies the theory of differing “learning styles” in a conscious way.