Michelle Wilkerson studies how young people learn with and about computational representations – things like computer simulations, data visualizations, or interactive graphics. Rather than asking whether or how technology might be used to improve education, Wilkerson's work takes it as given that it is an important part of many people’s professional and everyday lives. Simulations, visualizations, and analysis tools are a central part of scientific and social investigations. They are used to communicate about contemporary socioscientific issues (e.g., health, climate, transit), and in popular media. Her research explores how young students learn to make sense and make use of these tools, and how to support them through the design of software, curricula, and teacher professional learning experiences.
Wilkerson leads the Computational Representations in Education (CoRE) research group, and teaches classes in science and mathematics education, teaching, and educational research. Her work has been featured in journals including The Journal of the Learning Sciences, Science Education, Educational Studies in Mathematics, Educational Technology Research and Development, and the Journal of Science Teacher Education. She has served as the Chair and Co-Chair of the American Educational Research Association’s Special Interest Group in Advanced Technologies for Learning. In 2014 her work was awarded a National Science Foundation Early CAREER grant to pursue research on young learners’ data visualization competencies, and in 2020 she was awarded the American Educational Research Association Division C's Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies.