Harley Gutierrez

MIT Department: Comparative Media Studies
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Justin Reich
Undergraduate Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
Website: LinkedIn, Handshake
Research Poster


I am Harley Gutierrez. I am currently studying adolescent psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and I am thrilled to be a part of MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab this year! Originally from Laredo, Texas, I am particularly passionate about working to serve children in marginalized communities and border towns. My prior research endeavors have centered on the improvement of educational equity through anti-racism work, methods of pedagogical caring, and theories of learning. Moving forward, I want to earn a doctoral degree in developmental psychology and become a children’s therapist, specializing in LGBTQ+ issues and domestic abuse intervention.

2021 Abstract



Reflections on Remote Learning: Examining Educational Equity through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Harley Gutierrez, Chris Buttimer, Natasha Esteves, Farah Faruqi, Aicha Soukab

The landscape of PreK-12 education experienced rapid changes in the United States over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote learning has become widespread, drawing attention to facets of education that may call for examination as schools prepare to open in-person this fall. The shift to remote learning exacerbated pre-existing societal inequities in and out of school settings. To understand teaching under these circumstances, the Teaching Systems Lab investigated the lived experiences of educators across the country, centering those who are Black, Indigenous, or other people of color and who serve marginalized communities. Utilizing a qualitative, interview-based approach, we collected teacher perspectives that highlight potential best-practices for schools to adhere to as education continues to change. Using thematic analysis, we classified the data among the following themes: 1.) what worked during the 2020-21 academic year, 2.) what did not work during the 2020-21 academic year, and 3.) what educators recommend moving forward. Initial findings suggest that humanizing classrooms and curricula has been effective for teaching, restricting autonomy and maintaining inflexibility have been ineffective. Additionally, the narrative that students are experiencing a “learning loss” has been challenged, and there is a capacity for reimagining and redesigning schools to make them more humane and responsive when educators’ input is valued.