Indigenous Learning Lab


Indigenous Learning Lab (ILL) is currently underway in a high school in northern Wisconsin. We work with Northwoods High School (Pseudonym) and one of the local Ojibwe nations that is indigenous to the region to analyze the school’s existing behavioral support system, design a new, more culturally responsive behavioral support system, and implement the new system.

Institutional preparation for Indigenous Learning Lab began in 2016. In Fall 2019, we formed a Learning Lab group at Northwoods High consisting of school administrators, teachers, Ojibwe (Native American/Indigenous) educators, parents, community members, and students. Between Fall 2019-Spring 2020, Learning Lab members analyzed their school’s racially disproportionate behavioral and academic outcomes, discussed and identified existing problems of practice within the existing system, and designed a new, more culturally responsive, behavior support system. We have just completed the design phase and are now moving to the implementation stage (see the timeline of ILL at Northwoods High school below).

timeline of ILL at Northwoods High school

Principal Investigators

Aydin BalPrincipal Investigator
Aydin Bal, Ph.D.

Aydin Bal is a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. His research focuses on the interplay between culture, learning, and mental health across local and global education systems. Dr. Bal examines the social justice issues in education, family-school-community- university collaboration, and systemic transformation. He has developed a Culturally Responsive Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports framework and the Learning Lab methodology. In Learning Labs, local stakeholders (students, families, educators, policy makers, and community representatives), especially those from historically marginalized communities, collectively design and
implement culturally responsive behavioral support systems. As a practitioner and researcher in schools, hospitals, and prisons, Dr. Bal has worked with youth from minoritized communities experiencing academic and behavioral problems from the United States, Turkey, South Sudan, Syria, the Russian Federation, one Ojibwe Nation, and Brazil. Dr. Bal was the recipient of the 2019 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Scholars of Color Early Career Contribution Award.

Aaron Bird BearCo-Principal Investigator 
Aaron Bird Bear

Aaron Bird Bear was appointed as the inaugural Tribal Relations Director at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in November 2019. Bird Bear joined UW-Madison in 2000 to support the retention and graduation of American Indian and Alaska Native students at the university. In 2009, Bird Bear began supporting historically underrepresented students in the UW-Madison School of Education and also forwarded the School’s efforts to integrate First Nations Studies into public PK–16 education. Bird Bear is an alumnus of the Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis MS program at UW–Madison.

Advisory Board Members

Alfredo ArtilesAlfredo Artiles, Ph.D.
Dr. Alfredo Artiles is professor of culture, society, and education in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' School of Social Transformation and professor of education in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University (ASU). Artiles co-directs the Equity Alliance at ASU and is also an affiliated faculty member in the School of Transborder Studies. He has held visiting professorships at Leibniz University (Germany), the University of Göteborgs (Sweden), and Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. Professor Artiles' interdisciplinary scholarship examines the educational consequences of inequities related to the intersection of disability, race, and language.

His research publications and professional presentations have reached research, policy, and practitioner audiences in education, psychology, and related disciplines in the United States, Latin America, Africa, and Europe. His work has been published and/or reprinted in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Hungarian. He co-edits the International Multilingual Research Journal (Taylor & Francis)and is co-editor of the book series Disability, Culture, & Equity (Teachers College Press). Artiles served as vice president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), is an AERA Fellow, a Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellow, and a Resident Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford University). He has been a principal investigator of projects funded by entities such as the U. S. Department of Education, the Spencer Foundation, the University of California's Linguistic Minority Research Institute, Vanderbilt University's Learning Sciences Institute, the University of California's Research Expeditions Program, the University of Virginia's Center for Minority Research in Special Education, and the Motorola Foundation. Dr. Artiles has been an advisor to the Civil Rights Projects at Harvard University and UCLA, the National Academy of Education, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, and numerous projects housed at universities in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. He was named the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education Foundation. In 2011, Dr. Artiles was appointed to President Obama's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Sage Creek BirdsbillSage Creek Birdsbill
Mr. Birdsbill is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. He grew up both on the Ojibwe reservation and in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Excelling in mechanical pursuits, Mr. Birdsbill plans to attend a technical institute and open his own auto repair shop.

Ned BlackhawkNed Blackhawk
Dr. Blackhawk is a Native American scholar in the Department of History and American Studies at Yale. Dr. Blackhawk focuses his academic endeavors on examining the issues of social justice experienced by Native academia, she returned, and continues to pursue these questions during the course of her studies. She also has continued her study of cultural responsitivity.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson

Gloria Ladson-BillingsGloria Ladson-Billings
Gloria Ladson-Billings is the Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and Faculty Affiliate in the Departments of Educational Policy Studies, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and Afro American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ladson-Billings was the 2005-2006 president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Author and editor of 8 books and over 100 journal articles and book chapters, Ladson-Billings is winner of numerous scholarly awards and honorary degrees.

David O'ConnorDavid O’Connor 

SanninoAnnalisa Sannino
Annalisa Sannino holds a Finnish Academy Research Fellowship at the Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning (CRADLE) in the Faculty of Educational Sciences at University of Helsinki, Finland. She is visiting professor at Rhodes University, South Africa and at University West, Sweden. Her research is primarily focused on developing an activity-centered educational and dialectical theory of transformative agency. Her work demonstrates how transformative agency is enacted and how it can be identified, supported and enhanced within communities, educational settings and work activities by means of formative interventions. 

S5.	Beth Waukechon Beth Waukechon
Ms. Waukechon is a parent of three children and member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. She is also an educator who has taught elementary-aged students on the reservation in both public and alternative educational settings. Beth's current position involves teaching and advocating for Menominee children who have behavior challenges that are unmet by existing public education resources. Beth brings her empirical experience as an Indigenous educator and specialized knowledge of trauma informed care in rural reservation contexts.

Research Associates

Kemal AfacanKemal Afacan, Ph.D.

Dr. Afacan is an Assistant Professor of Special Education and Associate Dean of Graduate School at the Artvin Coruh University, Turkey. Dr. Afacan’s research focuses on academic and behavior supports for students with disabilities. He publishes and presents on topics such as literacy instruction for students with disabilities, culturally responsive behavior support systems, and the efficacy of alternative education settings for students with disabilities.

Halil Ibrahim CakirHalil Ibrahim Cakir, Ph.D.

Halil Ibrahim Cakir is a researcher in the Department of Special Education at Giresun University in Turkey. He received his undergraduate degree at Karadeniz Technical University in Turkey with a major in Hard of Hearing and Deaf Studies. He completed his master's and Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests include learning, school-wide interventions, school discipline, and multicultural issues in special education.

Hyejung KimHyejung Kim, Ph.D.

Dr. Kim is an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Leadership at Binghamton University. Previously, she worked as an elementary school teacher in South Korea for five years. Her research focuses on the intersections of multiple vulnerabilities, autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities, and transition from high school to adulthood. Currently, she uses national datasets, such as the National Longitudinal Transition Study, to understand racial disparities in college enrollment for students with neurodevelopmental disabilities; and transition path to college for emerging bilinguals with autism. As a CRBPBIS team member, she involves in projects investigating racial stratification within school systems and communities in Wisconsin. Her research goals include increasing access to postsecondary education for diverse learners and eventually assisting them to have competitive and integrated jobs.

Dosun KoDosun Ko, Ph.D.

Dr. Ko is an assistant professor in the School of Education at Wichita State University. He received his doctoral degree in the special education program from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests include racial disproportionality in behavioral outcomes (e.g., emotional/behavioral disorder [E/BD] identification and school discipline), culturally responsive and trauma-informed inclusive education, and participatory social design research grounded in cultural historical activity theory.

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