November 2021 Spotlight, Koeun Choi, Ph.D.

SRCD Asian Caucus Member Spotlight

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Koeun Choi ( as our member in the spotlight. Dr. Choi is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Development and Family Science, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

1) Can you write a couple sentences on some aspect of your career development: feel free to pick one or any other related question among these: a) what drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to you in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in your area? 

My research program focuses on the role of media technology in cognitive development to understand and support children’s learning. Specifically, I study how media technology impacts children’s attention and learning and the extent to which its impact is influenced by family processes and social contexts. My interest and curiosity in children’s learning stemmed from my experience growing up in South Korea. With the support and guidance of my mentors across the United States and throughout the world, I was able to translate these questions into scientific research. There is not enough space to name them all, but I would like to mention a few of the many great mentors. Dr. Soon-Hyung Yi introduced me to the field of childhood cognitive development. Dr. Heather Kirkorian guided me to open doors to scientific research on how educational media impacts children’s attention and learning. Dr. Rebekah Richert helped me to engage in the area of social cognition and expand my research networks. Dr. Elizabeth Bonawitz empowered me to expand my research horizon to explore computational modeling and children’s active learning. Along with these fantastic mentors and many others, I have been very fortunate to learn from interactions with great scholars, colleagues, students, early childhood educators, families, and children.

2) A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it.  Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other [understudied?] populations; d) practice or policy relevance. 

Currently, I am working on expanding my research on children’s learning from interactive touchscreens to address questions related to other emerging interactive technologies such as video chats and social robots. Interactive media technologies have the potential to create learning opportunities that are active, collaborative, and personalized. However, research to date, including my own, indicates that interactive media is not always beneficial (Choi et al., 2021). In my recent publication on Sesame Street’s 50 years and beyond (Choi, 2021), I discussed lessons from Sesame Street that transformed television into a powerful learning tool for young children and implications for using new media technologies to support children’s learning. I have also begun to explore how children’s media use and beliefs vary in different family and social contexts (Shin et al., 2021; Marcias & Choi, 2021). I am excited to further my research on emerging media technologies to better understand and support children from diverse backgrounds.

3) If you have any thoughts about your experiences with the Asian Caucus, that would be great!  These can be just for the Caucus leadership to know, and/or a message to the Caucus community. 

I have been part of the Asian Caucus since I joined SRCD as a graduate student. With the Asian Caucus’s support, I was elected as a Student and Early Career Representative to the SRCD Interdisciplinary Committee. Working in this position, I gained excellent experience for leadership development and professional growth. This would not have been possible without the general support from the Asian Caucus. Years later, the Asian Caucus also provided me a great opportunity to become a mentor myself at the Asian Caucus mentoring session. It has always been wonderful to connect with the members of the Asian Caucus and be part of support networks. I look forward to growing with and contributing to the Asian Caucus community!

4) Any upcoming talks or presentations we should know about?

This fall, I will be giving two invited talks on digital media and young children at two Korean academic societies. In the spring, I plan to give presentations on children’s learning with interactive robots at the Center for Humanities here at Virginia Tech and international conferences. Our transdisciplinary team has just launched a research study to connect interactive robots and theater arts to spark children’s interest and curiosity in STEAM and social robots. I am excited to share findings from this project as it unfolds!

5) What is your preferred contact email?

6) A weblink you prefer to share?


Twitter: @_KChoi

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