high school students posing on Pitt campus

Education Improvement

Partnering with Educators to Accelerate Improvement

We study teaching and design interventions to create high quality learning opportunities for all students. We examine the dynamic interactions among teachers, students, and subject matter from preschool to post-secondary education and life-long learning. We focus on how teachers and other education professionals learn to enact new, ambitious forms of instruction, both face-to-face and online.

Partners at LRDC

Institute For Learning logo Bringing Learning Research to the Classroom
The Institute for Learning (IFL)
works to ensure that every student - especially those traditionally underserved due to income, race, and language - has access to high-level texts, tasks, and high-quality learning opportunities to build the critical thinking and deep reasoning skills that are required for success. We believe that the way to achieve equitable and sustainable change is to focus on coherent, evidence-based learning for all educators across an educational system. Visit the Institute For Learning website.


Helping Education Leaders with Data-driven Decision-making
Evaluation for Learning (EFL)
group uses evaluative inquiry, field knowledge, and improvement science approaches to support improved decision-making by educational leaders, practitioners, and policy shapers in K-20. Visit the Evaluation For Learning website.


Supporting School Leaders to Improve K-12 Teaching and Learning
The Partners for Network Improvement (PNI)
team specializes in evaluating improvement networks, offering evidence-based support of leaders as they design, initiate, and develop improved K-12 teaching and learning. Visit the Partners for Network Improvement website.


Research Practice Partnerships K-12

student looking at computer screen Working with Local Schools to Improve Learning
Pittsburgh Area Schools and Districts
: Researchers at LRDC work with Pittsburgh public schools across the metropolitan Pittsburgh area. Through these partnerships, LRDC researchers support teachers, students, and staff to apply research to authentic educational environments. Faculty also have research-practice partnerships with suburban school districts.


Getting Kids to College
The Pittsburgh Promise:
LRDC researchers have partnered with Pittsburgh Promise administrators and Pittsburgh Public Schools leaders to determine what information these decision-makers need to build this $250 million investment in the region and then provide evidence-based insight in time to support policy and practice decisions. This work also includes impact evaluation of the Promise on college going, college attainment and workforce outcomes in the region. Learn more about The Pittsburgh Promise. Learn more about The Pittsburgh Promise.


Reducing Suspension Rates in City High Schools
The Just Discipline Project:
In the Woodland Hills School District, LRDC faculty work on projects that support teachers, students, and staff in efforts to reduce the need for exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions, in schools. Learn more about The Just Discipline Project.


Supporting Literacy Improvement on a Large Scale Dallas Independent School District:
Funded by the Bill & Melinda French Gates Foundation, The Institute for Learning, LRDC researchers, and the School of Education's Center for Urban Education
: Work in collaboration with the Dallas Independent School District to support literacy improvement in 14 secondary schools serving historically-minoritized students. Learn more about the IFL work in the DISD.


College & Pre-College Research Projects

Interventions that Cumulate to Real Impact

This interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty and researchers in Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics at Pitt brings together a highly interdisciplinary team to study a suite of instructional, cognitive-skill, and social/motivational interventions that have been demonstrated to produce large improvements in learning in the context of introductory STEM courses.

Timothy Nokes-Malach

Timothy Nokes-Malach
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Research Scientist, LRDC

Dr. Nokes-Malach's website

STEM PUSH Network

LRDC co-leads the NSF-sponsored INCLUDE Alliance "STEM PUSH Network": a network of precollege programs with accreditation standards to boost college enrollment for underrepresented students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math.

Jennifer Iriti

Jennifer Iriti
Research Scientist, LRDC
Director, Evaluation for Learning Group

Dr. Iriti's website
Jennifer Russell

Jennifer Russell
Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Education
Senior Scientist, LRDC

Dr. Russell's webpage

Intelligent Learning Technologies

Advances in natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) have led to an increasing interest in using NLP and AI to address the needs of teachers and students. Recent LRDC projects have focused on: 1) Teaching Argumentative (Re)Writing with AI-Supported Diagramming and Peer Review, 2) Integrating Natural Language Processing with Mobile Technologies, 3) Studying Text Based Classroom Discussions, 4) Scoring Writing at Scale, 5) Tutoring Students via Natural Language Dialogue Systems, and 6) NLP-based Learning Analytics.

Diane Litman

Diane Litman
Professor, Intelligent Systems Program
Professor, Department of Computer Science
Senior Scientist, LRDC

Dr. Litman's website

Language Learning and New Technology

In our work on college foreign language learning, we have studied international students learning English, and English-language students learning Chinese. We also study basic reading and reading comprehension skill in college students using behavioral, EEG, and neuroimaging methods. We have been part of teams that have developed on-line interventions for vocabulary learning at the middle school and pre-college level that strengthen general academic vocabulary.

Charles Perfetti

Charles Perfetti
Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology
Director, LRDC

Dr. Perfetti's website

Top of page