Learning sciences and policy design and implementation: Key concepts and tools for collaborative engagement

William R. Penuel, James P. Spillane

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


To many learning scientists, the world of policy is a distant concern. Their primary goals are to engineer new forms of learning in a small number of classrooms as a means to develop theories of how children learn. For them, the policies that affect what goes on in these classrooms are at best "mild annoyances" (Donovan, Snow, & Daro, 2013) that interfere minimally with their research efforts. At worst, policies appear to block the very possibility of innovation and change. Some learning scientists, however, are engaged in the complex work of designing policies and supporting implementation. Their goals are to collaborate with local policy makers in districts and schools, teachers, community members, and researchers in other disciplines in initiatives to transform teaching and learning at scale. For these learning scientists, policies can be instruments for enabling change in systems because they signal what is important to teach and learn and focus attention and resources on particular problems of practice. Instead of seeking to avoid the world of policy, these researchers bring their expertise in disciplinary learning and design research methods to help develop local policies and the means of supporting their implementation (Cobb & Jackson, 2012; Penuel, Fishman, Cheng, & Sabelli, 2011).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, Second Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781139519526
ISBN (Print)9781107033252
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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