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Kevin Crowley

Associate Dean, University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Professor, Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Director, University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE)

Senior Scientist, Learning Research & Development Center

Research Interests

I am director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE), which is a project of the Learning Research and Development Center and the School of Education. UPCLOSE conceptualizes, develops, and studies informal learning experiences. Our work explores what it means to learn and change as a result of activity in everyday environments including museums, commercial and community settings, on the web, and at home. We connect academic theory and real world practice. Our research focuses on relationships between learners, mediators, and environments, and experiences.

Akiva, T., Russell, J., Hecht, M., & Crowley, K. (2018). Leadership in out-of-school learning: The educational doctorate program at the University of Pittsburgh. International Journal for Research on Extended Education.

Russell, J. L., Kehoe, S., & Crowley, K. (2017). Linking in and out-of-school learning. In K. Peppler (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Out-of-School Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Allen, L. B. & Crowley, K. (2017). From acquisition to inquiry: Supporting informal educators through iterative implementation of practice. In P. Patrick (Ed), Preparing Informal Educators. New York: Springer.

Allen, L. B. & Crowley, K. (2017). Knowledge is not enough: A learning ecologies approach to climate change education. International Journal of Global Warming.

Allen, L. B. & Crowley, K. (2017). Moving beyond scientific knowledge: Leveraging participation, relevance, and interconnectedness for climate education. International Journal of Global Warming.

Crowley, K., Dorph, R., & Schunn, C. (2017). Crumpled molecules and edible plastic: Science learning activation in out-of-school time. Afterschool Matters, 25, 22-28.

Eberbach, C.E. & Crowley, K. (2017). From seeing to observing: How parents and children learn to see science in a botanical garden. Journal of the Learning Sciences.

Louw, M., Barbuto, N., & Crowley, K. (2017). Designing learning pathways in a complex learning ecology: A research practice partnership focused on parent brokering. In B. DiSalvo, J. Yip, E. Bonsignore, & C. DiSalvo (Eds.), Participatory design for learning: perspectives from research and practice. (pp. 93-112). New York, NY: Routledge.

Russell, J. L., Kehoe, S., & Crowley, K. (2017). Linking in and out-of-school learning. In K. Peppler (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Out-of-School Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Brahms, L. & Crowley, K. (2016). Making sense of making: Defining learning practices in MAKE Magazine. In K. Peppler, E. Rosenfeld Halverson, & Y. B. Kafai (Eds), Makeology: Makers as learners. New York: Routledge.

Brahms, L. & Crowley, K. (2016). Making in the museum: Launching a learning trajectory in an informal setting. In K. Pepler, E. Halverson, & Y. Kafai (Eds).Makeology in K-12, Higher, and Informal Education: The Maker Movement and the Future of Learning. Routledge.

Stein, M.K., Crowley, K., & Resnick, L.B. (2016). Education policy and the learning sciences: The case for a new alliance. In M. Evans, M. Packer, & K. Sawyer (Eds.), Reflections on the Learning Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Knutson, K. & Crowley, K. (2016). Collaborating across the university/informal boundary: Broader impacts through informal science education. In L. Avraamidou & W.-M. Roth (Eds.), Intersections of formal and informal science. New York, NY: Routledge.

Brahms, L. & Crowley, K. (2016). Learning to make in the museum: The role of maker educators. In K. Pepler, E. Halverson, & Y. Kafai (Eds.), Makeology: Makerspaces as learning environments. New York: Routledge.

Knutson, K, Lyon, M., Crowley, K., & Giarratani, L. (2016). Flexible interventions to increase family engagement at natural history museum dioramas. Curator: The Museum Journal, 59(4), 339-352.

Knutson, K. & Crowley, K. (2016). Learning in art museums: Creating and responding to art. In K. Nakakoji, H. Shindo, Y. Yamamoto, & T. Okada (Eds.), Museums that inspire: In search of new possibilities for public cultural spaces. Kyoto: Airi Shuppan. [in Japanese]

Tison Povis, K. & Crowley, K. (2015). Family learning in object-based museums: The role of joint attention. Visitor Studies. 18(2), 168-182.

Crowley, K., Barron, B. J., Knutson, K., & Martin, C. (2015). Interest and the development of pathways to science. In Interest in Mathematics and Science Learning and Related Activity. In K. A. Renninger, M. Nieswandt, and S. Hidi (Eds.). Washington DC: AERA.

Allen, L. B., & Crowley, K. (2014). Challenging beliefs, practices and content: How museum educators change. Science Education, 98(1), 84-105.

Allen, L. & Crowley, K. (2014). How museum educators change: Changing notions of learning through changing practice. Science Education, 98(1), 84-105.

Crowley, K., Pierroux, P., & Knutson, K. (2014). The museum as learning environment. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Handbook of the Learning Sciences, 2nd Edition.

Snyder, S., Hoffstadt, R. M., Allen, L., Crowley, K., Bader, D., & Horton, R. (2014). City-wide collaborations for urban climate education. In Hamilton, P. (Ed.), Future Earth: Advancing Civic Understanding of the Anthropocene, Geophysical Monograph Series, Vol. 197, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC.

Steiner, M.A. & Crowley, K. (2013). The natural history museum: taking on a learning research agenda. Curator: The Museum Journal, 56(2), 267-272.

Louw, M. & Crowley, K. (2013). New ways of looking and learning in natural history museums: The use of gigapixel imaging to bring science and publics together. Curator: The Museum Journal 52(1), 87-104.

Russell, J. L., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2013). Collaborations bridging the formal-informal divide in an urban educational ecology. Journal of Educational Change, 14, 259-281. [Lead article]

The Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE) involvement in Museum Lab was mentioned in the September 21 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Innovative Museum Lab Aims to Put New Twist on Education.”

September 21, 2018


Kevin Crowley, Karen Knutson, and their collaborators at the Carnegie Museum of have been awarded a grant from the Spencer Foundation for their project " The 21st Century Naturalist: A Research-practice Collaboration for Informal Science Education." The grant will expand their joint work on bringing museum resources to the public in informal learning environments and develop new nature-based learning opportunities.

February 2016


UPCLOSE Director Kevin Crowley and CMU Learning Media Design Center Director Marti Louw are co-PIs on a National Science Foundation funded project. This project, "Learning to See, Seeing to Learn: A Sociotechnical System Supporting Taxonomic Identification Activities in Volunteer-Based Water Quality Biomonitoring," is under the direction of Marti Louw. The project will develop and study a cyber-enhanced informal learning environment to improve observational practices and classification skills among citizen scientists.

September 2, 2015


UPCLOSE, MAKEHSOP, and Drew Davidson

February 17, 2013

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Kevin Crowley and His Partnership with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History were Published

January 16, 2013



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



Science Learning Outside the Classroom article interviews LRDC faculty member Kevin Crowley

April 6, 2011

Education Week Special Report

Science for Life article discusses Kevin Crowley's role in the revitalization of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Spring 2011

Carnegie Magazine

Carnegie Museum of Natural History Launches Center for Lifelong Science Learning with Grant from PNC Foundation

November 17, 2010

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

PNC Foundation, Carnegie Museum plan new science center

November 17, 2010

University Times

William T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow


Visiting Professor


Nagoya University

Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award


Association of Science and Technology Centers

MetLife Promising Practice Award


Association of Children's Museums

Visiting Professor


Nagoya University School of Education

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Visiting Fellow


Nagoya University

American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award


Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Undergraduate Fellowship


Joel Dean Fellowship for Undergraduate Research