[Person photo]

Department web site

Lab web site

Margaret McKeown

Clinical Professor, Department of Instruction and Learning, University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Senior Scientist, Learning Research & Development Center

Research Interests

  • The acquisition of vocabulary in school-age children, its relation to general verbal functioning, and instructional strategies for enhancing verbal functioning through vocabulary development.
  • The effects of learner and text characteristics on learning in verbal domains.
  • Instructional design and teacher professional development based on principles of cognitive theory and research.

McKeown, M. G., Deane, P. D., Scott, J. A., Krovetz, R, & Lawless, R. R. (2017). Vocabulary assessment to support instruction: Building rich word-learning experiences. New York: Guilford Press.

Rimbey, M., McKeown, M., Beck, I., & Sandora, C. (2016). Supporting teachers to implement contextualized and interactive practices in vocabulary instruction. Journal of Education, 196(2), 69-87.

Crosson, A.C., & McKeown, M. G. (2016) Middle school learners’ use of Latin roots to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words. Cognition and Instruction, 34(2), 1-24.

McKeown, M. G., & Beck, I. L. (2015).  Effective Classroom Talk IS Reading Comprehension Instruction.  In L. B. Resnick, C. Asterhan, & S. Clarke (Eds.), Socializing Intelligence Through Talk and Dialogue.  American Education Research Association (AERA).

Correnti, R., with Stein, M.K., & Smith, M., & Scherrer, J., & McKeown, M., & Greeno, J., & Ashley, K. (2015).  Improving Teaching at Scale: Design for the Scientific Measurement and Development of Discourse Practice.  In L. Resnick & C. Asterhan  (Eds),  Socializing Intelligence through Academic Talk and Dialogue.

McKeown, M. G., & Beck, I. L. (2014). Effects of vocabulary instruction on measures of language processing: Comparing two approaches. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(4), 520-530.

McKeown, M. G., Crosson, A. C., Artz, N. J., Sandora, C., & Beck, I. L. (2013). In the media: Expanding students' experience with academic vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 45-53.

Beck, I. L, McKeown, M. G, & Kucan, L. (2013). Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction (2nd Edition). New York: Guilford Press

McKeown, M.G, Crosson, A.C., Beck, I.B. Sandora, C. & Artz, N. (2012). Development of an academic word vocabulary intervention to enhance word knowledge and comprehension for middle school students. Paper presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

Crosson, A.C., McKeown, M.G., Beck, I.B., & Ward, A. (2012b). Developing an Assessment to Measure Depth of Knowledge of Academic Vocabulary. Interactive Paper presented at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading.

Crosson, A.C., McKeown, M.G., Beck, I.B., & Ward, A. (2012a). Development of an Innovative Assessment of Vocabulary Depth. Paper presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

Apthorp, H., Randel, B., Cherasaro, T., Clark, T., McKeown, M., & Beck, I. (2012). Effects of a Supplemental Vocabulary Program on Word Knowledge and Passage Comprehension. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 5, 160-188.

McKeown, M. G., Beck, I. L., & Sandora, C. (2012). Direct and Rich Vocabulary Instruction Needs to Start Early. In E. J. Kame'enui & J. F. Baumann, (Eds.), Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice (2 ed.). (pp. 17-33). New York: Guilford Publications, Inc.

McKeown, M. G. (2011). Reflections on what's proven and where the promise lies. In J. Levin (Ed.), Instructional Strategies for Improving Students' Learning (pp. 53-63). Scottsdale, AZ: Information Age Publishing.

McKeown, M. G., Beck, I. L., & Apthorp, H. (2011, April). Examining depth of processing in vocabulary lessons. Poster talk presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, New Orleans.

McKeown, M. G., Beck, I. L. (2011, April). Two approaches to vocabulary instruction for kindergarteners: Comparing effects on comprehension. Poster talk presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, New Orleans.

McKeown, M. G., & Beck, I. L. (2011). Making vocabulary interventions engaging and effective. In R. E. O'Connor & P. F. Vadasy (Eds.), Handbook of reading interventions (pp. 138-168). New York: Guilford Press.

McKeown, M. G. (2010, April). Robust vocabulary affects comprehension. Keynote Address, Maryland International Reading Association Annual Meeting, Hunt Valley, MD.

McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (Eds.). (2010). Bringing reading research to life: Essays in honor of Isabel Beck. NY: Guilford Press.

McKeown, M. G., Beck, I. L., &. Blake, R. G. K. (2009). Reading comprehension: Focus on content or strategies? Perspectives (International Dyslexia Association), 35(2), 28-32.

McKeown, M. G., Beck, I. L., & Blake, R. G. K. (2009). Rethinking comprehension instruction: Comparing strategies and content instructional approaches. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(3), 218-253.

McKeown, M. G., & Beck, I. L. (2009). The role of metacognition in understanding and supporting reading comprehension. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of Metacognition in Education. The Educational Psychology Series (pp. 7-25). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Beck I. L., McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (2008). Creating robust vocabulary: Frequently asked questions and extended examples. NY: Guilford Publications, Inc.

Beck, I., & McKeown, M. G. (2007). How teachers can support productive classroom talk: Move the thinking to the students. In R. Horowitz (Ed.), Talking texts: How speech and writing interact in school learning (pp. 207-220). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Beck, I. L., & McKeown, M. G., (2007). Different ways for different goals, but keep your eye on the higher verbal goals. In R. K. Wagner, A. Muse, & K. Tannenbaum (Eds.), Vocabulary and reading (pp. 182-204). NY: Guilford Publications.

Vocabulary Assessment to Support Instruction: Building Rich Word-learning Experiences is now available from Guilford Press

July 2017


LRDC Senior Scientist and Clinical Professor, Instruction and Learning, School of Education, Margaret McKeown, received the Creative Thought Matters Award of Distinction from her alma mater, Skidmore College.

June 19, 2017


An IES grant has been awarded for the project Returning to Our Roots: Development of a Morphology Intervention to Bolster Academic Vocabulary Knowledge for Adolescent English Learners (PI: Amy Crosson; Co-PI: Moddy McKeown, Isabel Beck)

July 2015


An IES grant has been awarded for the project For Argument’s Sake: Applying Questioning the Author Techniques to Support Comprehension and Composition of Written Argument (PI: Amy Crosson; Co-PI’s: Moddy McKeown, Lindsay Matsumura, Rip Correnti)

July 2015


LRDC Senior Scientist Moddy McKeown, along with Amy Crosson and colleagues from ETS (Paul Deane and Rene Lawless) and UC Santa Cruz (Judith Scott), was selected to receive an AERA Conference Award. The title is: A Collaborative Conference to Expand and Reimagine the Nature of Vocabulary Assessment. The conference will be held October 17 - 19, 2014, at ETS.


Moddy McKeown and NAEP vocabulary development featured

December 26, 2012

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

IRA selected Margaret McKeown and Isabel Beck's paper "Rethinking Comprehension Instruction: Comparing Strategies and Content Instructional Approaches," for their cross-journal virtual issue on comprehension. The editors chose articles based on interest and potential impact on both literacy scholarship and practice, their article was one of three chosen.

July 2012

International Reading Association

Two Pitt Professors Named 2010 Fellows of the American Educational Research Association

March 22, 2010

American Educational Research Association (AERA)



American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Member, International Reading Association

May 2008

Reading Hall of Fame

Pitt Innovator Award


University of Pittsburgh

National Academy of Education Spencer Fellowship


International Reading Association Outstanding Dissertation Award