Brian Reiser

Brian J. Reiser

Professor, Learning Sciences

Annenberg Hall
Room 339
2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208-0001
Phone: (847) 467-2205
Fax: (847) 491-8999


Brian J. Reiser is Professor of Learning Sciences in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. Reiser was a member of the National Research Council committee authoring the report Taking Science to School (2007), which provided research-based recommendations for improving K-8 science education. Reiser worked with the NRC committee to develop the Framework for K-12 Science Education (2012), which guided the design of The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards (2014) which provides guidelines for NGSS assessments. Reiser has also worked with Achieve to provide feedback on the design of NGSS and on the tools to help states implement NGSS, and is collaborating with several state initiatives to design and provide professional development for K-12 teachers to support them in realizing the reforms in NGSS in their classrooms. Reiser’s research examines how to make the scientific practices of argumentation, explanation, and modeling meaningful and effective for classroom teachers and students. Reiser co-led the development of IQWST (Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology), a three-year middle school curriculum that supports students in science practices to develop disciplinary core ideas. 

Curriculum Vitae

Adobe Acrobat PDF View Brian Reiser's CV.



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

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.

Michaels, S., Shouse, A., & Schweingruber, H. A. (2007). Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. National Academies Press.

Duschl, R. A., Schweingruber, H. A., & Shouse, A. W. (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K-8. National Academies Press.

Edelson, D. C., & Reiser, B. J. (2006). Making authentic practices accessible to learners: Design challenges and strategies in . K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences  (pp. 335-354). Cambridge University Press.

Smith, B. K., & Reiser, B. J. (2005). Explaining behavior through observational investigation and theory articulation. Journal of the Learning Sciences: 14(3), 315-360.
( Adobe Acrobat PDF Logo Download )

Reiser, Brian J. (2004). Scaffolding complex learning: The mechanisms of structuring and problematizing student work. Journal of the Learning Sciences: 13(3), 273-304.
( Adobe Acrobat PDF Logo Download )

Reiser, B.J., Tabak, I., Sandoval, W.A., Smith,B. K., Steinmuller, F., & Leone, A.J. (2001). BGuILE: Strategic and conceptual scaffolds for scientific inquiry in biology classrooms in Carver, S.M. & Klahr, D. (Eds.), Cognition and Instruction: Twenty-five Years of Progress  (pp. 263-305). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Loh, B., Reiser, B.J., Radinsky, J., Edelson, D.C., Gomez, L.M., & Marshall, S. (2001). Developing reflective inquiry practices: A case study of software, the teacher, and students in Crowley K., Schunn, C.D. & Okada, T. (Eds), Designing for Science: Implications from Everyday, Classroom, and Professional Settings (pp. 279-323). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Selected Presentations

Reiser, Brian (2007). NSF. • Invited presentation at NSF to present the NRC K-8 Science report.

Krajcik, J., Reiser, B. J., Schwarz, C., & Fortus, D (2007). Supporting a learning progression for scientific modeling in project-based inquiry curricula. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Chicago, IL.

Kuhn, L., & Reiser, B. J (2007). Bridging classroom practices: Traditional and argumentative discourse. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching. New Orleans, LA.

Reiser, B.J. (December, 2006). NRC K-8 Science report. Invited presentations at NSF.

Reiser, B.J. (December, 2006). NRC K-8 Science report. Invited presentation at Dept of Education Math Science Partnerships conference.

Kenyon, L. & Reiser, B. (2006). Functional Approach to Nature of Science: Using Epistemological Understandings to Construct and Evaluate Explanations. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco, CA.

Krajcik, J., & Reiser, B. J. (2006). Sequencing and supporting complex scientific inquiry practices in instructional materials for middle school students. Symposium presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching. San Francisco, CA.

Kuhn, L. & Reiser, B. (2006). Structuring Activities to Foster Argumentative Discourse. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco, CA.

Fortus, D., Hug, B. Krajcik, J., Kuhn, L., McNeill, K., Reiser, B. J., Rivet, A., Rogat, A., Schwarz, C., & Schwarz, Y. (2006). Sequencing and Supporting Complex Scientific Inquiry Practices in Instructional Materials for Middle School Students. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. San Francisco, CA.

Kuhn, L., & Reiser, B. J. (March, 2005). Students constructing and defending evidence-based scientific explanations. Paper presented at NARST 2005. Dallas, TX.

Kenyon, L. O., & Reiser, B. J. (March, 2005). Students’ epistemologies of science and their influence on inquiry practices. Paper presented at NARST 2005. Dallas, TX.


Next Generation Science Exemplar (NGSX)
Supporting Scientific Practices in Elementary and Middle School Classrooms
Three-Dimensional Ecosystems and Evolution Exemplar Units

Other Research/Scholarship

MoDeLS: Modeling Designs for Learning Science
Reviewer, Spencer Foundation, National Science Foundation.

2004-2006: Committee on Science Learning K-8, National Research Council.
Special subcomittee on learning progressions for NRC panel on science assessment

Member, NRC Panel K-8 science learning

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.




Topics (23): Journal Club The goal of the seminar is to examine the trajectory research and practice of science education reform in the last several decades. We will consider the themes of the reforms (how does research suggest we should change K-12 science classrooms?) and what we have learned about how to bring research-based reforms to practice. To do this we will look at three different parts of the progress of reform ideas. Classroom Research: What are some of the main findings of the empirical and theoretical work on K-12 science classrooms, and what are their implications for reform? A main focus will be design research that attempts to re-envision how science classrooms could be to be more meaningful and effective. Policy: What have been the attempts to bring research-based reforms into practice through policy? We will look at attempts in the 1990s through national and state standards and federal and state systemic reform initiatives, and the new reforms of the 2010s in the Framework and NGSS. Implementation and Implementation Research: We will examine the research on the implementation of science education policy reforms of the 1990s, e.g., through professional development and curriculum as part of systemic initiatives. We will examine the challenges that arise for the different players in the implantation system (e.g., teachers, teacher leaders, PD providers, coaches, principals, district leaders, state leaders, etc.) and what we know from research about how to support a coherent system of reform. We will then examine the current landscape of implementation efforts for the Framework and NGSS and identity potential areas for research these new reforms provide.

MS_ED 435

New Approaches to Science Teaching This course will review current ideas about reforms in science education, drawing on recent research on science learning and instructional innovation, and on reform documents such as national standards. We will examine approaches that attempt to teach science throughout K-12 as a knowledge-building practice, i.e., by engaging in scientific investigations and participating in scientific practices such as argumentation, explanation, and working with scientific models. The course will provide experience in understanding student thinking, articulating learning goals, and analyzing and adapting curriculum materials in light of current research-based view of science learning. Fulfills an MSED requirement.


Professional Service

Year Organization Position Description
2008 Center for Curriculum Materials in Science Graduate Fellowship Committee  

Editorial Boards

Year Journal Name Position
2008 Science Education Editorial Board Member
2008 Science Education Editorial Board Member
2008 NARST Peer Reviewer
2008 Journal of the Learning Sciences Editorial Board Member
2008 ICLS Reviewer
2008 Cognition and Instruction Reviewer
2008 AERA Peer Reviewer
2007 Spencer Foundation Reviewer
2007 Science Education Editorial Board
2007 National Science Foundation Reviewer
2007 Journal of the Learning Sciences Editorial Board
2007 Cognition and Instruction Peer Reviewer
2006 Journal of the Learning Sciences Member
2006 Cognition and Instruction Reviewer
1990 Journal of the Learning Sciences editorial board

Last Updated: 2016-01-08 15:42:17