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Shirin Vossoughi

Shirin Vossoughi

  • Associate Professor, Learning Sciences

Academic Area

Learning Sciences

Research Interests

Pedagogical mediation, thinking, relationality and development that take shape within settings that cultivate transformative learning, particularly with migrant, immigrant, diasporic and other non-dominant youth.


As a learning scientist and ethnographer of education, Shirin Vossoughi is concerned with understanding the social, cultural, political and ethical dimensions of human learning in ways that contribute to projects of educational justice. To this end, she studies the forms of pedagogical mediation, thinking, relationality and development that take shape within settings that cultivate transformative learning, particularly with migrant, immigrant, diasporic and other non-dominant youth. Her work seeks to understand micro-interactional processes of human learning as tied to broader forms of social change, and the potentials of learning environments as lived arguments for the possible.

This program of research requires conceptual, methodological and artistic tools that treat educational inequity as a social and historical problem, illuminate the empirical texture of expansive pedagogies, and construct a wider view of learning as tied to students’ life-worlds and cultural ways of knowing. She draws on ethnographic and interactional approaches to examine the specific qualities of learning environments that support young people to develop complex forms of disciplinary practice while questioning and expanding disciplinary boundaries, often through learning interactions that embrace their full personhood. Her current projects look closely at student and teacher learning in the context of reading, writing and STEAM domains, with a particular focus on the possibilities and complexities of political education. She has taught in a range of educational settings and take a collaborative approach to research and design, partnering with teachers, families, and students to study the conditions that foster educational dignity and change.


  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, Stanford University & Exploratorium, 2014
  • PhD, Education, University of California, Los Angeles, 2011
  • EdM, Education, University of California, Los Angeles, 2006
  • BA, History and International Development, University of California, Los Angeles, 2002

Selected Awards and Honors

  • 2022 – Honorable Mention, Alan C. Purves Award, National Council of Teachers of English 
  • 2022 – Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award, Northwestern University 
  • 2021 – Outstanding Professor Award, Northwestern University School of Education & Social Policy 
  • 2021 – Paper of the Year Award, Journal of the Learning Sciences 
  • 2021 – Early Career Award, International Society of the Learning Sciences
  • 2021 – Outstanding Reviewer Award, Journal of the Learning Sciences
  • 2021 – Outstanding Reviewer Award, American Educational Research Journal
  • 2020 – Ver Steeg Award for Excellence in Working with Graduate Students, Northwestern University Graduate Division 
  • 2019 – AERA Division C Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies
  • 2018 – Spencer Foundation Scholar in Residence

Selected Publications

Vossoughi, S. (2022). Race, Parenting and Identity in the Iranian Diaspora: Tracing Intergenerational Dialogues and CoDesign. Journal of Family Diversity in Education. 4(2), 160-176. 2022_Vossoughi_Race, Parenting & Identity in the Iranian Diaspora_JFDE

Vossoughi, S., Nzinga, K., Berry, A., Irvine, F., Mayorga, C. & Gashaw, M. (2021). Writing as a Social Act: The Feedback Relation as a Context for Political and Ethical Becoming. Research in the Teaching of English. 56(2), 200-222. RTE_Volume_56_Issue_2_Writing as a Social Act_ The Feedback Relation as a Context for Political and Ethical Becoming.v1  

Vossoughi, S., Escudé, M., Kitundu, W., & Espinoza, M. L. (2021). Pedagogical “Hands and Eyes”: Embodied Learning and the Genesis of Ethical Perception. Anthropology & Education Quarterly. 2021_Vossoughi Escudé Kitundu Espinoza_Pedagogical Hands and Eyes_Anthropology and Education Quarterly 

Destin, Mesmin, R. Josiah Rosario, and Shirin Vossoughi (2021). “Elevating the Objectives of Higher Education to Effectively Serve Students From Diverse Socioeconomic Backgrounds.” Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8.1, 59-66.

Vossoughi, S. (2021). Jan Hawkins Award Lecture: Elsewhere worlds, poetics and the science of human learning. Jan Hawkins Lecture_Shirin Vossoughi_2021

Vossoughi, S., Davis, N., Jackson, A., Echevarria, R., Muñoz, A. & Escudé, M. (January, 2021). Beyond the Binary of Adult Versus Child Centered Learning Pedagogies of Joint Activity in the Context of Making   Cognition & Instruction.

Espinoza, M., Vossoughi, S., Rose, M. & Poza, L. (July, 2020). Matters of participation: notes on the study of dignity and learning. Mind, Culture & Activity.

McDermott, R. & Vossoughi, S. (May, 2020). The culture of poverty, again. Diaspora, Indigenous & Minority Education: 60-69

Beckham, K. & Vossoughi, S. (May, 2020). From the poverty of culture to the power of politics: the evolution of W.E.B. Du Bois. Diaspora, Indigenous & Minority Education: 75-86.

Davis, N., Vossoughi, S. & Smith, J. F. (February, 2020). Learning from below: A micro-ethnographic account of children’s self-determination as sociopolitical and intellectual action. Learning, Culture & Social Interaction.