The MLC is coordinated by a team experienced researchers who bring academic and geographic diversity to the project.

Core Researchers:

Biographical Information

Leinhardt, a professor of education in cognitive studies at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Scientist at LRDC, is internationally recognized for her research on teaching and learning in classrooms. She has studied unusually effective teachers and their students, examining the relation of teacher cognitions and behaviors to student learning. Her research focuses on the nature of instructional explanations and reasoning in specific subject matter areas (e.g., history, mathematics, and geography). In her work on instructional explanations, she has focused on specific subject matter topics that are particularly hard to teach and to learn. The scope of research she has undertaken includes both quantitative, large scale program evaluation and fine grained cognitive analyses that are based on detailed ethnographic observations in natural classroom settings. Over the last decade and a half, she has developed and refined innovative research techniques for observing and analyzing instructional processes, including those related to discourse patterns and complex reasoning.

In addition to working closely with classroom teachers in her research activities, Leinhardt has co-directed a collaborative mathematics research dialogue and dissemination project linking LRDC with teachers from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). She has served on several state and national projects to develop innovative instruments for performance based teacher assessment at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in such areas as literacy, mathematics, and cultural awareness. Within the American Educational Research Association (AERA), she founded the special interest group on Teacher and Student Cognitions, chaired the AERA Publications Committee, and served on the Palmer O. Johnson Awards Committee. At the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, Leinhardt co-founded and chairs the Cognitive Studies in Education program, which integrates psychological, educational, and subject matter perspectives. She has designed and conducted courses and research apprenticeships that provide future teachers, teacher educators, and educational researchers with knowledge and tools to thoughtfully address issues of theory and practice.

Dr. Leinhardt joined LRDC in 1969 after earning a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree from the University of Chicago and serving as a public school teacher in the inner city. She received her Ph.D. in educational research from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972. In 1989 Dr. Leinhardt received AERA's Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award for best article and has twice won awards from the National Council on Geographic Education for her research articles. In 1990-91 she was honored with a Spencer Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, in Stanford, California. She continues to serve on numerous national advisory boards, including the NAEP Design and Analysis Committee and the National Academy of Science Committee on Developing a Research Agenda on the Education of Limited English Proficient and Bilingual Students. Her recent publications include two edited books, as well as numerous journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia articles, among which are the following:

 Leona Schauble is a cognitive developmental psychologist at the University of Wisconsin - Madison with research interests in the relations between everyday reasoning and more formal, culturally-supported, and schooled forms of thinking, such as scientific and mathematical reasoning. Her research focuses on topics such as belief change in contexts of scientific experimentation, everyday reasoning about social problems, and causal inference. In 1991, she received a National Academy of Education Spencer Fellowship to investigate developmental changes in how children and adults understand the goals and strategies of scientific experimentation. This work has generated findings concerning how people learn to design informative experiments and "read" patterns of evidence, including covariation, lack of covariation, and correlations between variables and outcomes.

In addition to basic research on the development of cognitive processes and strategies, a second important theme is the application of research and theory in the principled design and engineering of instruction. Shortly after completing her undergraduate degree, she joined the staff developing Sesame Street at the Children's Television Workshop (CTW). Her subsequent fifteen years at CTW provided practical experience in research and in the application of research to the design of education. In 1987, after completing a Ph.D. in Developmental and Educational Psychology at Columbia University, she joined the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh as a postdoctoral fellow, and worked there as a Research Scientist until 1992. At the University of Wisconsin, she has continued to study learning in both informal and formal educational settings. For example, she works closely with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, the world's largest children's museum, on an NSF-funded project to design and construct an 11,000-foot science gallery that reflects research findings about the science knowledge and learning of six-to ten-year-old children. The aim of this project is to reflect the "state of the art" of current cognitive science research in education, and to conduct an agenda of original research on relevant topics.

Schauble's current research concerns learning in school settings, at levels from elementary school through undergraduate. Her school-based work ranges from traditional psychological studies of learning conducted in the laboratory, to collaborative research with teachers to restructure science education at the elementary and middle school levels. Her current research focus is on the origins and development of model-based reasoning in mathematics and science, focusing on elementary school. In recognition of this program of research, Schauble received the Raymond Cattell Early Career Award in spring of 1996 from the American Educational Research Association. Schauble is co-editor of Cognition and Instruction, a journal devoted to cognitive investigations of instruction and learning.

 Kevin Crowley is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh with joint appointments at the Learning Research and Development Center and on the Cognitive Studies faculty in the School of Education. His research interests are in cognitive developoment, problem solving, scientific thinking, and parent-child learning. His research combines elements of the information processing and sociocultural frameworks, and draws upon a broad range of observational, experimental, and microgenetic methods.

His recent research focuses on collaborative scientific thinking among children and parents during museum visits, among peer dyads solving science problems, and among practicing cognitive scientists. As part of an NSF-funded collaboration with the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum, he has participated in developing hands-on exhibits to support parent-child learning. Among his recent professional activities, he was a Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science visiting fellow at Nagoya University and is also co-chair of "Designing for Science", a spring 1998 conference that will bring together researchers studying scientific thought in formal, informal, and professional settings.

Before coming to the University of Pittsburgh in 1997, Crowley was a postdoctoral fellow in developmental psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received a Ph.D. in psychology from Carnegie Mellon in 1994, an M.S. from Carnegie Mellon in 1991, and a B.A. in psychology and education from Swarthmore College in 1989.

Affiliated Research Colleagues

Mary Abu-Shumays joined the Museum Learning Collaborative in June 1997, as a Research Associate with Dr. Gaea Leinhardt at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh. She comes to the Collaborative from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, where as a docent, she conducted tours on such topics as dinosaurs, geology and minerals, life sciences, and anthropology. In addition, she trained and supervised docents, developed training materials, taught classes for children, families, and teachers, and presented outreach programs. Previously she was a volunteer at the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, where she researched historical and genealogical subjects for staff,visitors, and correspondents. Mary has a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, where she was also a Teaching Fellow. She has taught European history at Central Washington State College, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Sue Allen received her Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education from U.C. Berkeley in 1994. During that time, she also worked on a variety of projects related to learning and conceptual change in science, curriculum design, the use of micro-worlds in classrooms, and science teacher education. She has just completed a McDonnell post-doctoral fellowship at the Exploratorium, where she studied aspects of scientific inquiry in exhibit design and professional development programs for teachers. She has also worked as an in-house evaluator on several of the Exploratorium's recent exhibit-development projects, and serves on the board of the Visitor Studies Association.

Doris Ash received her Ph.D.from the University of California, Berkeley. She is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her research interests include gaining a better understanding of the role of thematic biological content (such as how learners come to understand adaptation) in complex social situations such as museums and classrooms; and the role of discourse as a vehicle for negotiating meaning over time and across contexts and generations, especially with families in informal learning settings. She has worked extensively with the Fostering a Community of Learners (FCL) Project in Oakland, California and is chairperson of the Informal Learning Environments Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. She has had extensive teaching experience at many levels, has worked as a professional biologist and writes children's books.

Chien-Fu Chang is a doctoral student in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Kirsten Ellenbogen is a research associate at King's College, London. Her research interests include public understanding of science in family life, and analyzing the conversations of museum visitors. She also conducts research (with Richard Duschl) on the argumentation strategies of middle school science students. Kirsten is the incoming chair of the Informal Science Education Strand of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, and was a founding officer of the Informal Learning Environments Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. She was also Assistant Editor of the 1997 special issue on informal science education for the journal Science Education. Recent publications and conference presentations include

Kirsten has worked with a variety of museums, including the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago); Science City, (Kansas City); the Detroit Science Center; and, the Capital Children's Museum (Washington D.C.). Her exhibition development, design, and evaluation work has focused on problem-solving exhibitions, multimedia exhibitions, and dual-purpose spaces appropriate for both school and family groups. Kirsten completed her B.A. at the University of Chicago and is currently a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University.

Joyce Fienberg is a research specialist at LRDC where she has worked with Leinhardt for over a decade on a variety of classroom-based research projects prior to joining the Museum Learning Collaborative. Those projects included Classroom Instruction and Learning, Instructional Explanations, The Value of Character, Portraits in Restructuring, and a small role in the Workplace Simulations in the Schools project. Prior to joining LRDC, she obtained a BA in psychology from the University of Toronto, where she was a student research assistant in social psychology, and then worked with emotionally disturbed children in a residential treatment center. She also has participated in the design of survey instruments at a large survey research organization. In addition to her experience in coordinating, conducting, and writing up classroom-based research with Leinhardt, she has a strong interest in how small groups function as a social support for learning in both formal and informal contexts. Her research expertise includes designing and conducting interviews with adults and children, collecting field-note and videotaped observational data, and analyzing and writing descriptions of results from qualitative data.

Mary Gleason is a doctoral student studying cognitive development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For five years she has worked with Dr. Leona Schauble investigating how parents assist their children with scientific experiments, similar to those found in science museums. Ms. Gleason's research interests include the development of scientific reasoning, parent-child learning interactions, parents' beliefs about learning, and informal learning environments. She has presented her research at AERA in San Diego, 1998, and will be published (with Dr. Schauble) in an upcoming issue of Cognition and Instruction (Gleason & Schauble, in press). Ms. Gleason received her B.A. in Psychology from Hamline University, and her M.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Karen Knutson is a Research Associate with Dr. Gaea Leinhardt at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh. She comes to the Collaborative from the University of British Columbia, where she received her Art Education (Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education). Previously she studied Art History at Queen's University, in Kingston, Ontario where she was first introduced to museological theory. She has taught art education and art history courses, and was also the editorial assistant for Studies in Art Education. While in Vancouver, she was a research consultant on several projects at the Vancouver Art Gallery and also worked at the Museum of Anthropology. Her research focuses on the politics of museum display as they affect historical understanding and the interpretation of art in galleries.

Melissa Mercer is a doctoral candidate in Informal Science Education at the University of Florida. She is currently living and working in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she collaborates with Dr. Scott Paris on an MLC-affiliated study at the Henry Ford Museum. Melissa has worked as an evaluator, educator, or researcher at museums such as SciTech (Aurora, Illinois), the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, National Air and Space Museum, and Florida Museum of Natural History. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching in the field of museum education from the George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of Michigan. Her professional interests include working within teacher training programs to stimulate interest in and effective use of informal educational resources within the curriculum, utilizing advanced quantitative methods to probe new areas of museum visitor learning experiences, and exploring new definitions of learning in museum settings.

Scott Paris is a Professor of Psychology and Education at the University of Michigan, where he teaches developmental and educational psychology courses. In 1993 and 1997, Professor Paris received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate teaching and in 1995 he received the University of Michigan Amoco Foundation Faculty award for Distinguished Teaching. Since receiving his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1972, he has been on the faculty at Purdue University and has been a Visiting Professor at Stanford, UCLA, the University of Hawaii, the University of Auckland (New Zealand), and three universities in Australia, the Flinders University, the University of Newcastle, and the University of Queensland.
Dr. Paris' research has focused on cognitive development, reading, and academic learning. He has studied children's memory, literacy, metacognition, and self-regulated learning during the past 25 years. His recent research has examined

  1. the design of literacy assessment tasks for K-6 students and portfolio assessment systems,
  2. the effects of standardized achievement testing on children in K-12,
  3. the connections among school-home-community learning environments,
  4. evaluation of the effects of summer school on young children's reading progress, and
  5. children's learning and motivation in museums.

He has created educational materials with commercial publishers to help children acquire reading and learning strategies and has worked extensively with teachers to design instruction and assessment that promote literacy learning. He is also a Site Director for the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA), a 5-year national research center funded by Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI).

His work in museums includes serving as: guest curator for the Austin Children's Museum NSF project "I'm Growing Up"; evaluator for several exhibitions at the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village; National Faculty participant with the High Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Atlanta Partnership for Visual Literacy; consultant to the "Beyond Look and Learn" museum consortium in Brisbane, Australia; researcher and evaluator for multiple projects at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum; research colleague with the "Ready? Set! Read!" program at the Minnesota Children's Museum; guest editor of the Journal of Museum Education special issues; and Program Chair for the 2000 AERA SIG on Informal Learning Environments. In 1999, he organized a Rackham Distinguished Faculty and Graduate Student Seminar on Museum Education for the 21st Century.

Professor Paris is on the editorial boards of eight journals, has published ten books, and written more than 100 book chapters and research articles including:

Kate Stainton has been a Research Specialist at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center for a decade, working with Leinhardt on several projects. She has a BA in history from Carnegie Mellon University and did graduate work in anthropology and Chinese studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work at LRDC has focused on explanations in middle and high school American and European history classrooms, issues of geographic literacy, middle school students' collaborative learning in geography, and high school students' use of computer simulations of the workplace. Since joining the MLC, she has been designing and conducting studies that examine the interaction of visitors' identity and their experience of exhibitions in museums. This research focuses on understanding the connections visitors make between their own identities and the objects and activities in the museum environment and does so by analyzing transcripts of visitors' conversation that occurs while they tour exhibitions. Her publications include: