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Brian J. Reiser

Brian J. Reiser

  • Orrington Lunt Professor of Learning Sciences

Room 339, 2120 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208
Curriculum Vitae

Academic Area

Learning Sciences

Research Interests

The design of learning environments and curriculum materials for science that support authentic practices including explanation, argumentation, and designing investigations. His research examines the cognitive and social interaction aspects of scientific inquiry, principles for scaffolding practices in software and curriculum materials, teaching practices, and curriculum design frameworks.


Brian Reiser is the Orrington Lunt Professor of Learning Sciences in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. Reiser’s work explores how to make science learning more meaningful in K-12 classrooms as students investigate questions and problems they identify. Reiser’s research examines how to support students in science knowledge-building practices through storyline curriculum materials and teaching approaches, and how teachers learn as they enact these reforms.

Reiser heads NextGen Science Storylines, a researcher-teacher collaborative developing and investigating design principles for storyline units in which students help manage the trajectory of science knowledge building. Reiser leads the Northwestern team of the OpenSciEd Developer’s Consortium, a partnership with ten state education agencies to design and field test storyline instructional materials. The project released a freely available middle school science curriculum in 2022, and is currently developing materials for K-5 and high school.

Reiser was a member of the National Research Council’s Board on Science Education from 2011 to 2018, serving on the NRC committee authoring A Framework for K-12 Science Education (guiding the development of the Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS), and reports recommending policies for NGSS assessment and implementation. Reiser collaborated with districts and states around the country to design and support professional learning programs supporting K-12 teachers in NGSS implementation. Reiser was a founding member at Northwestern of the first graduate program in Learning Sciences, chairing the program from 1993, shortly after its inception, until 2001.


  • PhD, Cognitive Science, Yale University, 1983
  • MA, Psychology, New York University, 1979
  • BA, Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 1977

Awards and Honors

  • Elected to the National Academy of Education, 2021
  • Fellow of the International Society of the Learning Sciences, 2021
  • Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, 2021

Selected Publications

Moon, Jean; Passmore, Cynthia; Reiser, Brian; Michaels, Sarah (2014). Beyond Comparisons of Online Versus Face-to-Face PD: Commentary in Response to Fishman et al., “Comparing the Impact of Online and Face-to-Face Professional Development in the Context of Curriculum Implementation”. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(2): 172-176.

Reiser, Brian ; Berland, L.K.; Kenyon, L.O. (2012). Engaging students in the scientific practices of explanation and argumentation: Understanding a Framework for Science Education. Science Scope: 6-11.

McKenney, Susan; Gomez, Kimberley; Reiser, Brian (2012). Tightening research-practice connections: Applying insights and strategies during design charrettes. 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences: The Future of Learning, ICLS 2012: 590-591.

Berland, L. K., & Reiser, B. J. (2011). Classroom communities' adaptations of the practice of scientific argumentation. Science Education: 191-216.

Schwarz, C.V., Reiser, B. J., Davis, E. A., Kenyon, L., Acher, A., Fortus, D., Shwartz, Y., Hug, B., & Krajcik, J. (2009). Developing a learning progression for scientific modeling: Making scientific modeling accessible and meaningful for learners. Journal of Research in Science Teaching: 632-654.

Berland, L. K., & Reiser, B. J. (2009). Making sense of argumentation and explanation. Science Education: 26-55.

Tabak, I., & Reiser, B. J. (2008). Software-realized inquiry support for cultivating a disciplinary stance. Pragmatics and Cognition: 307-355.

Krajcik, J., McNeill, K. L., & Reiser, B. J. (2008). Learning-goals-driven design model: Developing curriculum materials that align with national standards and incorporate project-based pedagogy. Science Education: 1-32.

Duncan, R. G., & Reiser, B. J. (2007). Reasoning across ontologically distinct levels: Students’ understandings of molecular genetics . Journal of Research in Science Teaching: 938-959.

Duncan, R. G., & Reiser, B. J. (2007). Reasoning across ontologically distinct levels: Students’ understandings of molecular genetics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching: 938-959.