Kelsey Schenck

Assistant Professor

Department of Teaching & Learning

Kelsey Schenck


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison


6401 Airline Rd
Suite 301
Dallas, 75205

View CV


Kelsey E. Schenck, Ph.D is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning and is affiliated with SMU’s Technology-Enhanced Immersive Learning Cluster (TEIL). She received her Ph.D. in 2023 in Educational Psychology-Learning Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Schenck’s research is at the intersection of embodied cognition, spatial reasoning, and STEM education. She is interested in using a grounded and embodied frame to understand the influence of the cognitive and affective aspects of spatial reasoning on students’ STEM learning and in the design of interventions with immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality. Currently, her primary objectives are to investigate the role of spatial ability and spatial anxiety in embodied mathematics, including geometry and proportional reasoning, and to design and implement interventions that utilize the affordances of immersive technologies for building students’ spatial reasoning and STEM skills. Dr. Schenck’s previous experience as a middle-school mathematics teacher in the Dallas area informs her work in designing effective interventions that can be implemented at scale in classrooms.

To pursue this research, Dr. Schenck employs design-based research models and a mixed-methods approach. These approaches, which include speech and gesture analysis, allow for a comprehensive understanding of how the embodied components of spatial reasoning impact students’ STEM learning and offer a robust framework for designing effective interventions with immersive technologies.

Selected Publications

Swart, M. I., Schenck, K. E., Xia, F., Kim, D., Grondin, M., Nathan, M. J., & Walkington, C. (2023). Embodying students’ geometric thinking in an interactive narrative game. American Educational Research Association Conference, Chicago, IL, United States.

Schenck, K.E., Walkington, C., & Nathan, M. J. (2022). Groups that move together, prove together: Collaborative gestures and gesture attitudes among teachers performing embodied geometry. In Sheila Macrine and Jennifer Fugate (Eds.), Movement Matters: How Embodied Cognition Informs Teaching and Learning. (pp. 131-145). MIT Press.

Walkington, C., Nathan, M. J., Wang, M. & Schenck, K.E. (2022). The effect of relevant directed arm motions on gesture usage and proving of geometry conjectures. Cognitive Science, 46(9), e13180.

Schenck, K. E., & Nathan, M. J. (2022). Spatial anxiety moderates the effect of spatial ability in geometric reasoning. In A. E. Lischka, E. B. Dyer, R.S. Jones, J. N. Lovett, J. Strayer, & S. Drown (Eds.), Proceedings of the forty-forth annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 598). Nashville, TN, United States.

Schenck, K. E, Hubbard, E. M, Nathan, M., & Swart, M. (2022). Expanding Understandings of Embodied Mathematical Cognition in Students’ Fraction Knowledge. In J. Culbertson, A. Perfors, H. Rabagliati & V. Ramenzoni (Eds.), Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 44. Toronto, Canada.

Schenck, K.E., Kim, D., Swart, M.I., & Nathan, M.J. (2022). With no universal consensus, spatial system perspective affects model fitting and interpretation for mathematics. [Paper presentation]. American Educational Research Association Conference, San Diego, CA, United States.

Schenck, K.E. & Nathan, M.J. (2021). Exploring expanded notions of mathematical reasoning: Spatial systems, anxiety, and embodiment. In A. Wichmann, H. U., Hoppe, & N. Rummel (Eds.), General Proceedings of the 2021 Annual Meeting of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences 2021 (pp. 113 -114). Bochum, Germany: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Nathan, M. J., Schenck, K. E., Vinsonhaler, R., Michaelis, J. E., Swart, M. I., & Walkington, C. (2021). Embodied geometric reasoning: Dynamic gestures during intuition, insight, and proof. Journal of Educational Psychology, 113(5), 929 – 948. doi:10.1037/edu0000638

Swart, M. I, Schenck, K.E., Xia, F., Kwon, O. H., Nathan, M. J., Vinsonhaler, R., & Walkington, C. (2020). Grounded and embodied mathematical cognition for intuition and proof playing a motion-capture video game. In M. Gresalfi and I. S. Horn (Eds.), The Interdisciplinarity of the Learning Sciences, 14th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2020, Volume 1 (pp. 175-182). Nashville, Tennessee: International Society of the Learning Sciences.