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CIRES | Education and Outreach

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Megan Littrell

Megan Littrell

Megan is an educational researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education and Outreach program at the University of Colorado Boulder. She has conducted quantitative and qualitative research to examine educational outcomes and goals of science learning programs funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Megan currently serves as the educational researcher for the Lens On Climate change project and HEART Force (Hazard Education, Awareness, and Resilience Task Force) at CIRES E & O. She is also PI on a project funded by the CU Office for Outreach and Engagement that introduces students to improv theater and environmental science, to build science communication and collaboration skills.  She holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Colorado State University, with a focus on applications of cognitive theory in education.

Professional Preparation

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; Cognitive Psychology, Ph.D. 2011
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; Cognitive Psychology, M.S. 2008
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA; Psychology, B.S. 2005


2016- present           Educational Researcher, CIRES Education and Outreach, University of Colorado Boulder
2015- 2017               Lecturer, University of Colorado Denver
2013–2018               Research Associate, Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Colorado Boulder
2011-2013                Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City
2009-2011                Graduate Teaching Fellow, Colorado State University
2006-2009                Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Mentor, Colorado State University
2005-2009                Graduate Teaching Assistant, Colorado State University

Synergistic Activities

Educational Research on Learning Outcomes: As an educational researcher in the CIRES Education and Outreach program, I lead research on the Lens on Climate Change project and HEART Force for middle and high school students. My role primarily includes leading instrument development and selection, data collection, conducting case studies, and running statistical analyses to assess program outcomes and effectiveness.

CU Outreach and Engagement Award (2018-2019): “Building Science Communication Skills through Improvisational Theater.”

I am currently developing a workshop series that brings together high school students and University of Colorado (CU) graduate students studying environmental science in an informal science learning setting. The goal of the workshop is to facilitate learning communication and collaboration skills through improvisational theater exercises, integrated with science content learning. This project is funded by the CU Office for Outreach and Engagement.

Educational Consulting: Recent work I have completed involves curating and generating a variety of resources in a series of “Toolkits” for middle school teachers to facilitate the translation of cognitive theory and research findings into practice for educational settings. This work was completed for the Middle School Matters Institute (

Publications and Presentations

Littrell-Baez, M., Tayne, K., Leckey, E., Gold, A.U., Okochi, C., Lynds, S., & Smith, L. (2018, April). A qualitative approach to understanding Lens On Climate Change (LOCC) students’ perspectives on climate change. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in New York, NY.

Tayne, K., Littrell-Baez, M., Leckey, E. & Gold, A.U. (2018, April). Towards more meaningful climate change education: Investigating the role of climate change solutions. Paper presented at roundtable at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in New York, New York.

Gold, A.U., Leckey, E., Littrell-Baez, M., Smith, L., & Lynds, S. (2018). Student-produced short films about impacts of climate change on local communities: An effective approach that combines art and place-based learning opportunities and challenges of program implementation with secondary school students. Journal of Sustainability Education, 17.

Tayne, K., Littrell-Baez, M., Leckey, E. & Gold, A.U., (2018, June) Engaging with climate change as a socioscientific issue in an informal science learning environment. In The Proceedings of The International Conference of the Learning Sciences, London.

Caccamise, D., Littrell-Baez, M., & Weatherley, J. (2018, June). Translating theory to practice: Technology solutions to solve practical issues for teaching reading comprehension at the secondary level. In the Proceedings of The International Conference of the Learning Sciences, London.

Littrell-Baez, M., Clark, J., Leckey, E., Gold, A., Wise, S., & Lynds, S. (2017, September). Case study on science and storytelling through film: American Indian students in the Lens on Climate Change (LOCC) summer workshop. Poster presented at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Denver, CO.

Oonk, D.J., Leckey, E., Gold, A.U., Margo-Sneider, J., Littrell-Baez, M., Smith, L.K., Lynds, S. (2017). Lens on Climate Change: Using place-based learning to explore climate change effects. Science Scope, 41(2), 86-95.

Littrell-Baez, M., & Caccamise, D. (2017). A cognitive perspective on chemistry instruction: Building students’ chemistry knowledge through advancing fundamental literacy and metacognitive skills. In P. Daubenmire (Ed.), Metacognition in chemistry education: Connecting research and practice. (pp. 31-42). ACS Symposium Series; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC.

Leckey, E., Gold, A., Wise, S., Littrell-Baez, M., Lynds, S., Oonk, D., Smith, L., Cozzetto, K., Alweis, D., Forsyth, S., & Carpenter, E. (2016, September). Lens on Climate Change (LOCC)—Engaging diverse secondary students in climate science through filmmaking. Paper presented at the Geological Society of America, Denver, CO.

Littrell-Baez, M.K., Friend, A., Caccamise, D., & Okochi, C. (2015). Using retrieval practice and metacognitive skills to improve content learning. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 58(8), 680-687. DOI: 10.1002/jaal.420.