Susan Jurow

Susan Jurow
Associate Professor and Program Chair
LSHD: Learning Sciences & Human Development

School of Education, Room 316
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0249

Susan Jurow is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology & Learning Sciences. Her research explores how learning is situated in changing social and cultural practices. Dr. Jurow's publications have focused on learning disciplinary content in schools, how practices travel in and across contexts, and the ways in which learning is a part of social movements.


PhD Education, University of California, Berkeley, 2001
MA Education, University of California, Berkeley, 1995
BA Psychology, New York University, 1992

My research is guided by three distinct, yet related lines of analytic interest that describe my scholarly activities as a learning sciences researcher. First, I study the development of practice-linked identities, a concept used to describe how people identify with particular ways of knowing, acting, and valuing, are positioned to participate in social practices, and take on particular types of identification through their engagement in social practices.  The term practice-linked identity is used to distinguish this view of identity development from more individually-focused, psychological perspectives on identity that do not consider how people form understandings of themselves through engagement in culturally and historically situated and socially enacted practices.  Although identities are not solely the accumulation of micro-level interactions, a focus on how identification occurs in local exchanges along with an analysis of how this relates to given social identities (e.g., ethnicity, gender) can help educators arrange learning environments to facilitate the emergence of identities of competence for all students.

Second, I study how people learn to participate disciplinary practices, especially in the areas of mathematics and science. In my research I examine the ways in which newcomers to a practice gain access to disciplinary ways of seeing, talking, and representing. Rather than treating these ideas as stable and agreed-upon, my investigations have focused on how teachers, curricular materials, disciplinary experts, and researchers assemble (and re-assemble) these practices through their interactions within the broader socio-cultural world.

Third, in my most recent line of research, I am working closely with doctoral student Leah Teeters and a team of students to investigate learning as part of the food justice movement. We are studying how communities are working to change their social, cultural, economic, and physical infrastructures to support new practices, forms of knowledge, and learning/identity trajectories. Our interdisciplinary project involves students and faculty from ATLAS and community partners in Denver.

I view learning as a process of gradually becoming a member of a community and therefore, I design all of my courses so as to invite students into the “target” community (e.g., elementary teachers, educational researchers).  I do this by designing opportunities for students to engage in authentic problems faced by members of the target community, to observe and interact with members of that community, and to reflect on their developing skills.  In these ways, I hope students learn skills in a meaningful context and develop a professional disposition that will allow them to see, act, and value in accordance with the standards of a wider community of practice.

Courses taught:

EDUC 4411: Educational Psychology for Elementary School

To teach effectively, teachers need to know a great deal about their students. In this course, we will focus on three core questions:

  1. How do children learn, and what influences how they learn?
  2. How does this affect how we approach classroom teaching?
  3. How can educational psychology help us better understand how to create effective learning environments?

This course aims to introduce students to some aspects of the nature of learning, and of the relation between learning and teaching.  While it is not meant to familiarize you with the “ins and outs” of classroom teaching, we will spend time in class discussing your practicum experiences in relation to theories of learning and will refer to recent research to guide your practice in classrooms.

Learning to teach can be challenging because it involves moving between the general and the particular, theory and practice, our own experiences as learners and teachers, and the experiences of others. In this class, we will address these challenges through readings, discussion, activities, writing, and lectures about learning and teaching.  To further enrich your understanding of learning to teach, we will also share, discuss, and analyze your experiences at your practicum sites.

EDUC 6318: Psychological Foundations of Education

This course is meant to be an introduction to the field of educational psychology with a particular emphasis on theories of learning. In this course, we will address the following interrelated questions through our collective reading and discussions

  1. How do people learn?
  2. How do theories of learning affect how we organize teaching and learning in classrooms?
  3. How has the field of educational psychology contributed to and shaped our understanding of the above issues?

I’ve designed course readings and assignments so you can go in-depth into selected topics that I think are central to understanding the psychological foundations of education.  I have chosen to go for depth rather than breadth in this course so you will gain a sense of the general kinds of issues that are studied in educational psychology as well as the approaches that are taken to study them. 

As I see it, your main task as a student in this class is to try to relate what you are learning in class with what you know about the world, schooling, subject matter, how people learn in and out of school, and about yourself.  You will have many opportunities to share the connections you are making in our discussions and in your writing. 

EDUC 8260: Qualitative Methods II

This required course for first-year doctoral students in Education focuses on the nature and processes of qualitative research; it is designed to extend and elaborate on the topics covered in Qualitative Methods I.  In this class, you will read book-length qualitative studies to appreciate how researchers conducted their studies, analyzed their data, encountered difficulties and opportunities “in the field,” and wrote about their findings.  You will also read articles specifically about conducting, analyzing, and writing about qualitative research.  While the readings are a critical part of this class, I think of the course as more of a workshop than a seminar; that is, class sessions are focused more on activities related to doing the work of qualitative research than on discussing readings.  Class sessions include mini-lectures on topics listed in the syllabus, discussions grounded in students’ projects as they relate to readings, and a variety of classroom exercises meant to engage students in practices I have identified as central to doing qualitative research and becoming educational researchers (e.g., developing a coding system, writing analytic memos that aim to integrate insights from diverse sources of data).

In this course, I hope you will:

  1. extend your understanding of the goals and nature of qualitative research;
  2. gain an appreciation for the process of qualitative research, and;
  3. develop the professional skills of analytic and integrative thinking and writing.

EDUC 8358: Discourse as a Context for Learning

The view of learning taken in this course is informed by sociocultural theories and situated analyses of interaction and participation (e.g., Lave & Wenger, 1991) that consider how learning and membership in a community are mediated by talk, embodied activity, artifacts, and broad notions of social practice.  The approach to studying learning as it occurs in culturally and historically organized settings is informed primarily by micro-ethnographic analyses that aim to understand what is happening in an interaction and what it means from the perspective of the participants involved in the activity.

This course is intended to help you:

  1. gain a better understanding of research on the role of discourse in learning; and
  2. develop a familiarity through readings and hands-on experience with some of the concepts and methods used to study discourse.

Course readings, discussions, and other activities are meant to help you get a sense of the kinds of questions one might ask about the roles of discourse in learning, the issues involved in constructing and representing transcripts, and the process of developing an analysis based on the close study of talk and interactions between people in socially and culturally organized settings. 

Selected Professional Service

  • Reviewer, AERA conference proposals, Division C (2003 and 2004)
  • Reviewer, AERA conference proposals, Division K (2003 and 2004)
  • Member, American Educational Research Association
  • Member, Program Committee, International Conference of the Learning Sciences (2004)
  • Ad hoc reviewer, Journal of the Learning Sciences, Educational Psychologist, Early Education and Development, Discourse Processes

Selected University Service

  • Member, Institute of Cognitive Studies

School of Education

  • Member, Technology Committee (2003-present)
  • Liaison to the Faculty Teaching Excellence Program (2003-2004)
  • Member, Faculty Search Committees: Educational Psychology (2003-2004); Mathematics Education (2004-2005)
  • Coordinator, Research on Teaching and Teacher Education specialty seminar (2004-2005)
  • Coordinator, Mathematics/Science/Educational Psychology Block (2004-2005)
  • Member, Advisory Board, Education Diversity Scholars Program (2004


For a complete list of publications, please see the faculty member's curriculum vitae.


Gutiérrez, K., & Jurow, A.S. (2016). Social design experiments: Toward equity by design, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 00, 1-34. (Invited article in special issue edited by M. Cole, K.D. O’Neill, and W.R. Penuel on cultural historical perspectives on design). (Equal authorship)

Jurow, A.S., Teeters, L., Shea, M.V., & Van Steenis, E. (2016) Extending the consequentiality of “invisible work” in the food justice movement, Cognition & Instruction, 34(3), 210-221. (Special issue edited by M. Bang and S. Vossoughi on participatory design research).

Teeters, L., Jurow, A.S., & Shea, M.V .(2016). The challenge and promise of community co-design. In V. Svihla and R. Reeve (Eds.) Design as scholarship: Case studies from the Learning Sciences (pp. 41-54), NY: Routledge.

Hall, R., & Jurow, A.S. (2015). Changing concepts in activity: Descriptive and design studies of consequential learning across time, space, and social organization. Educational Psychologist, 50(3), 173-189. Invited article in a special issue titled “The relevance of the situated perspective in educational psychology,” edited by Julianne Turner and Susan Nolen.

Jurow, A.S. & Shea, M. (2015). Learning in Equity-oriented Scale-making Projects. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 24(2), 286-307.

Jurow, A.S., Tracy, R., Hotchkiss, J., & Kirshner, B. (2012). Designing for the future: How the Learning Sciences can inform the trajectories of preservice teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(2), 147-160.

Jurow, A.S. & Pierce, D. (2011). Exploring the relations between “soul” and “role”: Learning from the Courage to Lead. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 18(1), 26-42

Hug, S. & Jurow, A.S. (2009). Developing Technology Fluency in Community Practice: Exploration of the "Paintbrush" Metaphor. Educational Media and Technology Yearbook, 35, 79-99.

Jurow, A.S. (2009). Cultivating self in the context of transformative professional development. Journal of Teacher Education, 60, 277-290.

Jurow, A.S., Hall, R., & Ma, J. (2008). Expanding the disciplinary expertise of a middle school mathematics classroom: Re-contextualizing student models in conversations with visiting specialists. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17(3), 338-380.

Jurow, A.S. & Creighton, L. (2005) Improvisational science discourse: Teaching science in 2 K-1 classrooms. Linguistics and Education, 16(2), 253-262.

Jurow, A.S. (2005) Shifting engagements in figured worlds: middle school mathematics students' participation in an architectural design projectThe Journal of the Learning Sciences14(1), 35-67.

Jurow, A.S. (2004). Generalizing in interaction: Middle school mathematics students making mathematical generalizations in a population-modeling projectMind, Culture, and Activity: An International Journal11(4), 279-300.