Learning Research and Development Center
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Christian Schunn

Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology
Senior Scientist, Learning Research and Development Center


Research Interests

  • STEM reasoning and learning
  • Neuroscience of complex learning
  • Peer interaction and instruction
  • Engagement and learning


Chan, J., Dow, S. P., & Schunn, C. D. (In press). Do the best designs ideas (really) come from conceptually distant sources of inspiration? Design Studies.

Egan, P. F., Cagan, J. C., Schunn, C. D., & LeDuc, P. R. (In press). Design of Complex Biologically Based Nanoscale Systems Using Multi-Agent Simulations and Structure-Behavior-Function Representations. Journal of Mechanical Design.

Alfieri, L., Higashi, R., Shoop, R., & Schunn, C. D. (2015). Case studies of a robot-based game to shape interests and hone proportional reasoning skills. International Journal of STEM Education, 2(4). 

Baikadi, A., Schunn, C., & Ashley, K. (2015). Understanding revision planning in peer-reviewed writing. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Educational Data Mining, 1-4.

Crowell, A., & Schunn, C. (2015). Unpacking the relationship between science education and applied scientific literacy. Research in Science Education, 1-12.

Egan, P., Cagan, J., Schunn, C., & LeDuc, P. (2015). Synergistic human-agent methods for deriving effective search strategies: the case of nanoscale design. Research in Engineering Design, 26(2), 145-169.

Egan, P., Ho, T., Schunn, C., Cagan, J., LeDuc, P. (2015). The effects of training background and design tools on multi-level biosystems design. Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Engineering Design, 1, 433-442.

Egan, P., Moore, J., Schunn, C., Cagan, J., & LeDuc, P. (2015). Emergent Systems Energy Laws for Predicting Myosin Ensemble Processivity. PLoS Computational Biology, 11(4): e1004177. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004177

Kessler, A. M., Stein, M. K., & Schunn, C. D. (2015). Cognitive Demand of Model Tracing Tutor Tasks: Conceptualizing and Predicting How Deeply Students Engage. Technology, Knowledge and Learning.

Liu, A. S., Kallai, A. Y., Schunn, C. D., & Fiez, J. A. (2015). Using mental computation training to improve complex mathematical performance. Instructional Science.

Moss, J., Schunn, C. D. (2015). "Comprehension through explanation as the interaction of the brain's coherence and cognitive control networks." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 562.

Patchan, M. M., Schunn, C. D. (2015). Understanding the benefits of providing peer feedback: How students respond to peers' texts of varying quality. Instructional Science, 1-24.

Patchan, M. M., Schunn, C. D., Sieg, W., & McLaughlin, D. (2015). The effect of blended instruction on accelerated learning. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 1-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1475939X.2015.1013977

Peffer, M. E., Beckler, M. L., Schunn, C., Renken, M., & Revak, A. (2015). Science classroom inquiry (SCI) simulations: A novel method to scaffold science learning. PloS One, 10(3)

Sha, L., Schunn, C., & Bathgate, M. (2015). Measuring choice to participate in optical science learning experiences during early adolescence. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(5), 686-709.

Tekkumru-Kisa, M., Stein, M. K., & Schunn, C. (2015). A framework for analyzing cognitive demand and content-practices integration: Task analysis guide in science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(5), 659-685.

Chan, J., & Schunn, C. D. (2014). The impact of analogies on creative concept generation: Lessons from an in vivo study in engineering design. Cognitive Science.

Chan, J., Schunn, C., & Dow, S. (2014). Overreliance on conceptually far sources decreases the creativity of ideas. Paper presented at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Quebec City, Canada.

Cox, C., Reynolds, B., Schuchardt, A., & Schunn, C. D., (2014). How do secondary level biology teachers make sense of using mathematics in engineering design-based lessons about describing and predicting a biological process? In L. Annetta & J. Minogue (Eds.), Achieving science and technological literacy through engineering design practices. Springer

Egan, P. F., Schunn, C. D., Cagan, J., & LeDuc, P. R. (2014). Suprisingly stochastic: Learning and application of emergent behavior using interactive simulations of nano-mechanical biological systems. COGSCI 2014: The Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

Falakmasir, M. H., Ashley, K. D., Schunn, C. D., & Litman D. J. (2014). Identifying thesis and conclusion statements in student essays to scaffold peer review. Proceedings 12th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS). Honolulu, HI.

Jang, J. & Schunn, C. D. (2014). A framework for unpacking cognitive benefits of distributed complex visual displays. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 20(3), 260-269.

Kirschenbaum, S. S., Schunn, C. D., & Trafton, J. G. (2014). Visualizing uncertainty: The impact on performance. Human Factors, 56(3), 509-520.

Liu, A. S., & Schunn, C. D. (2014). Applying math onto mechanism: Investigating the relationship between mechanistic and mathematical understanding. COGSCI 2014: The Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

Richey, J. E., Phillips, J. S., Schunn, C. D., & Schneider, W. (2014). Is the link from working memory to analogy causal? No analogy improvements following working memory training gains. (2014). PLoS ONE, 9(9). 

News and Awards


Chris Schunn is interviewed about his research for the Canadian Broadcasting System (CBC) "Eureka!: Mapping the Creative Mind." Chris's section begins at 35:20.
March 23, 2015

Christian Schunn and Joel Chan's research included in the Innovation Excellence blog, number 12 "Being a 'genius' requires hard work, not talent."
March 16, 2015

Chris Schunn was mentioned in the OZY article "Bridging Tech's Gender Gap...With Dance."
January 15, 2015

Joel Chan and Christian Schunn's research was discussed in the OZY article "The Productivity Secret You Don't Want to Hear."
December 2014

Joel Chan and Christian Schunn's research on analogies was used in the article "How to Think Like an Engineer" from Design News.
October 2014

A list of recent LRDC award recipients is on page 18 of the August 28 issue of the University Times. Einat Heyd-Metzuyanim, Melissa Libertus, Diane Litman, Charles Perfetti, Christian Schunn, Natasha Tokowicz, Tessa Warren, and Jingtao Wang were all mentioned.
August 2014

Joel Chan and Christian Schunn's research was mentioned in class the Business Insider, "This Cognitive Tool Helped Thomas Edison Discover His Inventions."
July 2014

Joel Chan and Christian Schunnís research on analogies was mentioned in a recent National Geographic blog "Where Do New Ideas Come from?"
June 2014

Christian Schunn was mentioned in a LinkedIn article on the Secret Skill Behind Being an Innovator.
March 31, 2014

"Understanding and improving curriculum materials design practices for effective large-scale implementation in science" Christian Schunn Co-PI with D. Bernstein, S. Mckenney, B. Drayton, J. Barber (together with TERC, UC Berkeley, University of Twente), 10/1/13 - 9/30/16.
10/1/2013 - 9/30/2016
National Science Foundation

"Building a theory of badges for computer science education" Christian Schunn, PI, CoPI R. Shoop (together with CMU).
9/1/13 - 8/31/16
National Science Foundation

Panther Learning, a company that builds writing skills through its SWoRD Peer Review teaching software, is featured in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
December 2012
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Chris Schunn was quoted as a "STEM education researcher at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center"
July 30, 2012
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Kevin Crowley and Chris Schunn's Science Activation Lab was the inspiration for a Spark Strategy Session sponsored by the Sprout Fund on July 26th.
July 26, 2012

LRDC Senior Scientist Chris Schunn and Graduate Student Jooyoung Jang Published Their Results About Engineering Students Who Use Digital Devices Such as SMARTTM Boards in the April Issue of the Journal of Mechanical Design.
May 10, 2012
Journal of Mechanical Design

Schunn Named Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
January 9, 2012
Pitt Chronicle

CIDDE Lecture on How to Motivate Students in the Classroom presented by Christian Schunn
October 27, 2011
University Times

Student inventors offer possible improvements
March 3, 2011
Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Area High School Students Exhibit Inventions, Vie for Internship During Pitt's Sixth Annual High School Innovative Design Competition
February 24, 2011
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall

LRDC Researchers Silk and Schunn Develop Synchronized Robot Dancing
July/August 2009
Robot Magazine


Panther Learning Systems, Inc. won Ed Tech Company of the Year at the Pittsburgh Technology Council Tech 50 awards. Panther Learning Systems licenses Peerceptive, (SWoRD), which is a web-based peer review system to support writing instruction, developed at LRDC by Christian Schunn.
October 2014

Chris Schunn and Muhsin Menekse, with Robin Shoop of CMU, have received a National Science Foundation grant for "Changing Culture in Robotics Classrooms." This is a continuing grant that has been approved on scientific/technical merit.
September 2014

Congratulations to Christian Schunn, Diane Litman, and Amanda Godley. "An Intelligent Ecosystem for Science Writing Instruction," was awarded a The National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.
July 2014

Chris Schunn has been elected a Fellow in the Association for Psychological Science.
June 2014

Christian Schunn received an NSF grant to study malleability and the impact of science learning activation.
March 31, 2014

Chris Schunn, Joel Chan, and their colleagues at CMU, won the Best Paper Award at 24th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology for "The Meaning of "Near" and "Far": The Impact of Structuring Design Databases and the Effects of Analogy on Design Output."
September 2012

LRDC Senior Scientist Chris Schunn and Doctoral Student Sam Abramovich Named Winners in the MacArthur Foundation's Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition
March 1, 2012
Digital Media and Learning Competition

Society Fellowship
American Psychology Association, Division 3

Best work at ED-Media conference (with Kwangsu Cho)

Best student proposal award, Creative Concepts conference
Texas A&M University

Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et a l'Aide la Recherche Graduate Fellowship
1990-1992, 1994-1995

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Graduate Fellowship

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Undergraduate Summer Research Award
1989, 1990

Undergraduate Award: Major Hiram Mills Medal, Boris Muskatov Prize, Dow-Hickson Scholarship, J. W. McConnell Award, Emily Ross Crawford Scholarship