Bruce Sherin

Bruce L. Sherin

Professor, Learning Sciences
Coordinator, Learning Sciences PhD Program

Annenberg Hall
Room 334
2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208-0001
Phone: (847) 467-2405
Fax: (847) 491-8999


Bruce Sherin’s work focuses primarily on conceptual change in science—the process through which our everyday understanding of the natural world changes over time and with instruction. In early work, he engaged in the design and study of novel interventions for physics instruction, with particular emphasis on the role of symbolic representations. As part of that work, he explicated his theory of Symbolic Forms, which captures the conceptual structures that successful physics experts learn to see in equations. More recently, his work has focused on some methodological issues in the study of conceptual change. As part of this newer work, he applies techniques from natural language processing to interview protocols. In addition, with Miriam Sherin, he is exploring the use of novel technologies for the study of teacher cognition.

Curriculum Vitae

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  • 2001 - NSF CAREER Award
  • 1994 - Spencer Dissertation Year Fellowship



Year Degree Institution
1996 PhD, Science and Mathematics Education University of California, Berkeley
1989 MA, Physics University of California, Berkeley
1985 BA, Physics Princeton University


Year Title  
1996 The symbolic basis of symbolic intuition Adobe Acrobat PDF Logo Download Adobe Acrobat PDF

Selected Publications

Sherin, B., Star, J. (Working Paper/In Press/Under Review). Reflections on the Study of Teacher Noticing in Sherin, M., Jacobs, V., Philipp, R., Mathematics teacher noticing: Seeing through teachers' eyes (pp. 66-78). Routledge.

Sherin, Bruce (2013). A computational study of commonsense science: An exploration in the automated analysis of clinical interview data. Journal of the Learning Sciences: 600-638.

Bledsoe, C. H., Sherin, B., Headley, N. M., Heimer, C. A., Kjeldgaard, E., Lindgren, J. T., et al. (2007). Regulating creativity: Research and survival in the IRB iron cage. Northwestern University Law Review: 101 (2), 593-641.

Sherin, B. (2006). Common sense clarified: Intuitive knowledge and its role in physics expertise. Journal of Research in Science Teaching: 33(6), 535-555.
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Sherin, B., Fuson, K. C. (2005). Multiplication strategies and the appropriation of computational resources. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education: 36(4), 347-395.
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Sherin, B., Azevedo, F. S., & diSessa, A. (2005). Exploration zones: A framework for describing the emergent structure of learning activities in Nemirovsky, R., Rosebery, A. S., Solomon, J., & Warren, B., Everyday Matters in Science and Mathematics: Studies of Complex Classroom Events (pp. 329-366). Lawrence Erlbaum.

Sherin, B., Reiser, B., & Edelson, D. (2004). Scaffolding analysis: Extending the scaffolding metaphor to learning artifacts. Journal of the Learning Sciences: 13(3), 387-421.
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Sherin, B. (2001). How students understand physics equations. Cognition and Instruction: 19(4), 479-541.
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Sherin, B. (2001). A comparison of programming languages and algebraic notation as expressive languages for physics. International Journal of Computers for Mathematics Learning: 6, 1-61.
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Sherin, B. (2000). How students invent representations of motion: A genetic account. Journal of Mathematical Behavior: 19(4), 399-441.
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diSessa, A. and Sherin, B. (1998). What changes in conceptual change?. International Journal of Science Education: 20(10), 1155-1191.
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Selected Presentations

Sherin, B. & Schwarz, J. (July, 2007). Epistemic Structures: A new language for describing science content. (July, 2007). Epistemic Structures: A new language for describing science content. Paper presented at the CCMS Knowledge Sharing Institute, Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C., DC.

Sherin, B. & Lee, V. (July, 2007). Using clinical interviews to study science knowledge and learning. (July, 2007). Using clinical interviews to study science knowledge and learning. Paper presented at the CCMS Knowledge Sharing Institute, Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C., DC.


Year Title Source Period Amount Status
2008 Freezing time: Using digital video to help teachers reason about classroom events Edison Venture Fund 2008 - 2011 $499,928 Funded
PI: Sherin, Miriam   Sherin, Bruce   

2001 CAREER: Conceptual dynamics in complex science interventions NSF 2001 - 2007 $581,711 Funded
PI: Sherin, Bruce   

1999 Computer-supported visual representations for learning modeling National Science Foundation 1999 - 2004 $1,027,886 Funded
PI: Forbus, Kenneth   Sherin, Bruce   

1998 Building algebraic, multiplication/division/fraction, and measurement understandings in urban classrooms in English and Spanish National Science Foundation 1998 - 2001 $1,564,435 Funded
PI: Sherin, Bruce    Fuson, Karen

Research Interests

Conceptual change in science; computational linguistics applied to natural language data; programming environments for learning; external representations in science and mathematics.




Knowledge Representation for Learning Sciences Our concern, in the Learning Sciences, is with helping individuals to learn; we want to help them learn to engage in new tasks, and to understand things that they didnít understand before. It is the assumption of this course that we will be in a better position to achieve these goals if we can somehow characterize the knowledge that individuals possess at any given time, and how this knowledge changes as they learn. The characterization of knowledge is the business of this course. We will explore the techniques of knowledge representation, primarily as practiced by cognitive scientists. Our goals in this regard are both theoretical and methodological. We will examine various theoretical perspectives on the nature of knowledge, and we will practice various methodological and analytical techniques for studying the knowledge possessed by individuals.


Foundations of the Learning Sciences


Topics: Computational Methods


Independent Study in Learning Sciences


Research In Learning Sciences

SESP 391

Advanced Research Methods Overview of research methods that may be used to design and implement the honors thesis. Prerequisites: 210 and 372 recommended.


Professional Service

Year Organization Position Description
2007 International Journal of Computers in Mathematical Learning Executive Editor

Editorial Boards

Year Journal Name Position
2010 Technology, Knowledge, and Learning: Learning Mathematics, Science and the Arts in the Context of Digital Technologies Editor-In-Chief
2010 Journal of the Learning Sciences Member of editorial board
2010 Cognition and Instruction Member of editorial board
2006 International Journal of Computers in Mathematical Learning Executive Editor

Last Updated: 2016-01-08 15:46:36