James W. Pellegrino is Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor and Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was a founding Co-director of UIC’s interdisciplinary Learning Sciences Research Institute.
From 1973-1979 he was Professor of Psychology and a Research Associate of the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center. From 1979-1989 he was Professor of Education and Psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara where he also served as Chair of the Department of Education from 1987-1989. From 1989-2001 he was the Frank W. Mayborn Professor of Cognitive Studies at Vanderbilt University where he also served as co-director of the Learning Technology Center from 1989-1991 and as Dean of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development from 1992-1998.
Dr. Pellegrino’s research and development interests focus on children’s and adult’s thinking and learning and the implications of cognitive research and theory for assessment and instructional practice. Much of his current work is focused on analyses of complex learning and instructional environments, including those incorporating powerful information technology tools, with the goal of better understanding the nature of student learning and the conditions that enhance deep understanding. A special concern of his research is the incorporation of effective formative assessment practices, assisted by technology, to maximize student learning and understanding. Increasingly his research and writing has focused on the role of cognitive theory and technology in educational reform and translating results from the educational and psychological research arenas into implications for practitioners and policy makers.
Dr. Pellegrino’s unique blend of expertise which combines knowledge of cognitive science, psychometrics, educational technology, instructional practice, and educational policy has led to appointment as head of several National Academy of Science/National Research Council study committees. These include chair of the Study Committee for the Evaluation of the National and State Assessments of Educational Progress, co-chair of the NRC/NAS Study Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice, and co-chair of the NRC/NAS Study Committee on the Foundations of Assessment which issued the report Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment. He chaired the recent NRC/NAS Study Committee on Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills and co-chaired the NRC/NAS Study Committee on Developing Assessments of Science Proficiency in K-12. He was a member of the NRC/NAS/NAE Study Committee on Improving Learning with Information Technology and chaired the NRC/NAS Panel on Research on Learning and Instruction for the Strategic Education Research Partnership. He served as a member of the NRC/NAS Study Committee on Test Design for K-12 Science Achievement, the NRC/NAS Study Committee on Science Learning: Games, Simulations and Education, and the NRC/NAS Study Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards. He is a Fellow of AERA, a lifetime National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, and a past member of the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Research Council. He is an elected lifetime member of the National Academy of Education and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Pellegrino has supervised several large-scale research and development projects funded by agencies such as NSF, USDOE, IES, ONR, AFOSR, NIH, and private foundations. He has authored or co-authored over 300 books, chapters, journal articles, and reports in the areas of cognition, instruction and assessment and has made numerous invited presentations at local, state, national and international meetings and at universities throughout the world. He is knowledgeable about the diversity of perspectives represented by various research, policy, and practice communities having served on regional and national boards, committees of the American Psychological Association, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, the American Educational Research Association, and as an elected member of AERA’s Governing Council. He serves on the Technical Advisory Committees (TAC) of several organizations such as the College Board and National Center on Education and the Economy as well as the TACs of several states and the SBAC, PARCC, DLM, and NCSC consortia of states funded under the USDOE Race to the Top assessment initiative.
1973 – PhD, University of Colorado, Experimental, Quantitative Psychology
1970 – MA, University of Colorado, Experimental, Quantitative Psychology
1969 – BA, Colgate University, Psychology
Licensures and Certifications
- Colgate University Scholarship
- New York State Regents Scholarship
- Westchester County Golf Association Caddie Scholarship
- Austen Colgate Award
- Phil R. Miller Award in Psychology
- Phi Beta Kappa
- Psi Chi
- NIMH Fellow, University of Colorado
- Outstanding Young Men in America
- National Academy of Sciences lifetime National Associate
Psychonomic Society, Sigma Xi, Midwestern Psychological Association, Rocky Mountain Psychological Association, Society for Research in Child Development, American Educational Research Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York Academy of Science, Cognitive Science Society, Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology, Computers in Psychology, Society for Mathematical Psychology, European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI).
National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council:
- Committee on the Evaluation of the National and State Assessments of Educational Progress
- (Committee Chair);
- Committee on Cognitive Science Foundations of Assessment
- (Committee Co-chair);
- Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice
- (Committee Co-chair);
- Committee on Improving Learning with Information Technology
- (Committee member);
- Committee on Strategic Education Research Program Panel on Learning and Instruction Research
- (Panel Chair)
- Board on Testing and Assessment
- (Board Member)
AERA Presidential Nominating Committee; AERA Annual Meeting Program Committee – Section C-6 Program Chair; AERA Publications Committee; AERA Council (elected Member-at-Large); AERA OIA Executive Committee (Chair); AERA GPL Committee; AERA Panel on Improving Educational Research; AERA Research Quality Committee
AACTE Research and Information Committee; AACTE Government Relations Committee; NCATE Technology Task Force;
NSF, NIMH, OERI Proposal Reviewer; Canada Research Council Proposal Reviewer, Australian Research Council Proposal Reviewer.
Research Currently in Progress
Human cognition, cognitive development, individual differences, applications of cognitive research and technology to instructional problems and the design of learning environments. Research interests in human learning and memory, individual and developmental differences in human cognition, computer models of cognitive processes, applications of cognitive research and technology to the design of learning environments, assessment designs for educational settings.
Pellegrino’s research and development interests focus on children’s and adult’s thinking and learning and the implications of cognitive research and theory for assessment and instructional practice. Much of his work focuses on analyses of complex learning and instructional environments, including those incorporating powerful information technology tools. The goal is to better understand the nature of student learning and the conditions that enhance deep understanding. A special concern of his research is the incorporation of effective formative assessment practices, assisted by technology, to maximize student learning and understanding. His research and writing increasingly has focused on the role of cognitive theory and technology in educational reform, and in translating results from the educational and psychological research arenas into implications for practitioners and policy makers.