Kirsten R. Butcher

Curriculum Vitae

Kirsten R. Butcher portrait
  • Director: Center for the Advancement of Technology in Education (CATE) College of Education, College Of Education
  • Director: Instructional Design and Educational Technology (IDET) Program, Educational Psychology
  • Associate Professor, Educational Psychology


Research Summary

My work focuses on how visual information and interactive capabilities in multimedia and educational technologies support high-level cognitive processing and effective learning outcomes. I study educational technology from a design and assessment perspective, grounding each approach in cognitive theories of learning and comprehension. My research is focused particularly on technology impact on high-level cognitive processes such as integration, inference, and transfer.

Research Statement

The goal of my research is to better understand how multimedia and educational technology can support meaningful learning and knowledge transfer, with particular attention to the cognitive processes employed by learners and the learning outcomes that they achieve. Theoretical models of comprehension have established different levels at which knowledge can be encoded: shallow encoding results in a representation of knowledge that can be recalled by a learner but is rigid, preventing application and transfer. Deeper encoding results in a flexible, long-lasting representation that facilitates transfer and application; encoding at this level is evidenced by high-level cognitive processes such as integration and inference (see Butcher & Kintsch, 2012, for a discussion). My research program rigorously assesses the technology-supported conditions under which high-level cognitive processing occurs and, as a result, deep, flexible knowledge is formed.  

My work is particularly focused on the role that visual representations play in facilitating deep learning with educational technology. I study visual representations such as diagrams and animations, as well as visuospatial displays – such as knowledge maps – that combine visual and verbal information in conceptually meaningful ways. In my research, visual representations may take one or more roles in a learning environment: they may be presented to learners, facilitate learner interactions, and/or serve as a computational basis by which the system analyzes and responds to learner input. 

Although much of my work examines STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning in K-12 contexts, my collaborative work also examines the role of technology in supporting teachers’ instructional practices and knowledge development. For example, in recent work, I developed a verbal protocol methodology and coding framework used to analyze teachers’ thinking about technology as integrated into their core pedagogy (Butcher, Leary, Foster, & Devaul, submitted).

Research Keywords

  • Multimedia Learning, Interest Level: 5
  • Instructional Technology, Interest Level: 5
  • Educational Technology, Interest Level: 5
  • Multimedia or Interactive Communications Technology, Interest Level: 5
  • Scientific Visualization, Interest Level: 5
  • Comprehension Processes, Interest Level: 5
  • Intelligent Agents or Systems, Interest Level: 5

Research Groups

  • Matt Orr, Visiting Student. Learning Sciences Program. 09/2014 - present.

Research Equipment and Testing Expertise

  • The MIND Lab: Usability suite, multimedia tools, qualitative analysis software, drawing tablets, and screen capture tools.