Research

For a list of current LSAP and LPC research projects, please visit our Current Research page.


The Learning Policy Center is a unique voice advising on the design, implementation, and impact of policies that aim to influence what teachers and students are expected to learn and that shape their opportunities to learn.The LPC informs policymakers of critical research on learning, influences policy decisions by actively engaging in policy work, and involves education stakeholders including researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in discussions of education reform challenges and solutions.


UPCLOSE conceptualizes, develops, and studies informal learning environments. Our work explores what it means to learn and change as a result of experiences in everyday contexts such as museums, community settings, on the web, and at home. We connect academic theory and real world practice. Our research focuses on relationships between learners, mediators, environments, and experiences. Because of the nature of informal learning, our laboratory exists in the world. We work in partnership with informal learning organizations to develop and use new models of learning. Our work often initially connects with our partners through their need for evaluation research, but it rarely ends with simple evaluation. We are most interested in work that contributes to our basic understandings of what it means to learn and change as a result of informal educational experiences. We believe that new theories of learning are best developed, tested, and revised when they are embedded in the design of novel learning environments. This comes about as a result of interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers, designers, educators, content specialists, and the learners themselves. UPCLOSE actively works on professional development and policy issues in the field of informal education. One of our ongoing projects, informalscience.org, is the field’s primary web site for collecting, sharing, and using research and evaluation work in informal science. As a Co-PI for the new Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE), we will be working field-wide to directly connect the lessons of research to policy and practice in informal learning.


Higher Order Cognitive Collective (HOCC)

at the University of Pittsburgh

The Higher Order Cognitive Collective (HOCC) consists of researchers interested in higher-order cognitive processes.  They are based at the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

HOCC currently consists of the Menekse, Nokes-Malach, Rottman, Schunn, and Wallace labs.  They meet every fortnight to present and discuss ongoing research.  You can find out more information and see a schedule of their meetings at their website.


Past Faculty Research Projects

Learning Sciences and Policy program faculty are involved in a range of research projects.  Prior research has focused on the following areas:

Professional Learning for Teachers and School Leaders 
Leadership for instructional improvement
Professional learning in communities of practice
Teacher learning for managing science instruction
Role of induction and professional development in quality of instruction
Effect of instructional coaching on teaching and learning

Instructional and Curriculum Design
Project-based robotics curriculum
Building innovative learning environments for science, technology, & art
Creative robotics and the development of technological fluency
Authentic design-based science activities
Mathematics learning in high school science classrooms
Interactions of reasoning capacity and motivation in science learning
Evaluating the spread and use of Algebra I courseware
Technology-scaffolded peer evaluation in writing

Improving and Measuring Instruction
Knowledge of mathematics needed for teaching
Reasoning and proving in secondary mathematics
Classroom discourse for comprehension instruction during text-based discussions
The effects of differentiated tasks on learning from text
Effects of comprehensive school reform programs on teaching and learning
Validity and technical issues in large-scale assessment programs
Evaluation of assessment and teaching programs
Developing and validating measures of instruction (teacher logs, observation tools and collection of classroom artifacts)

Learning in Out-of-School Environments
Intelligent tutoring systems for informal robotics education Understanding and designing for learning in museums Informal learning and community engagement

Developing Organizational Structures that Support Learning
Learning from grantmaking
Evaluation capacity building for non-profits
Policies to support instructional leadership
Organizing to improve mathematics instruction

Evaluating and Interpreting Education Policies
Implementation of No Child Left Behind
Special education in the context of No Child Left Behind
Effects of high-stakes testing on instruction
School choice