Profile: Clark A. Chinn | Graduate School of Education

Profile: Clark A. Chinn



I am current working on two interconnected lines of research. In the first, I have explored new approaches to conceptualizing and investigating epistemic cognition. In the second (in an ongoing collaboration with Ravit Duncan), we have developed life science curricula that promote conceptual change and model-based reasoning. More information can be found under the “research initiatives” link below.

Professional Affiliations

American Educational Research Association
American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association, Division 15 (Educational Psychology)
Cognitive Science Society
European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction
International Society of the Learning Sciences
National Association for Research on Science Teaching
Society for Text and Discourse

Recent Grants

2012, Interdisciplinary Conference on Epistemic Cognition, American Educational Research Association (Principal Investigatory, with Jeffrey Green, University of North Carolina, co-PI).

2010, Emerging Research-Empirical--Investigating Scaffolding Strategies to Promote Reasoning and Conceptual Change in Science, $1,497,543; National Science Foundation. (with Ravit Golan Duncan, co-PI).

2005, Promoting Conceptual Change in Reasoning; $1,072,102; National Science Foundation. (with Ravit Golan Duncan).

  • Departments

    Department of Educational Psychology

  • Associated Programs

    Specialization in Educational Psychology
    Specialization in Learning Sciences
    Learning, Cognition & Development

  • Courses Taught

    05:300:306  Educational Psychology: Principles of Classroom Learning
    15:295:580  Psychology of Learning
    16:300:582  Educational Psychology II: Theories of Cognition and Instruction
    16:300:695  Seminar: Reasoning
    16:300:695  Seminar:  Conceptual Change

  • Education

    Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Publications

    Rogat, T. K., Witham, S., A., & Chinn, C. A. (in press). Teachers’ autonomy-relevant practices within an inquiry-based science curricular context: Extending the range of academically significant autonomy-supportive practices. Teachers College Record.

    Chinn, C. A., Duncan, R. G., Dianovsky, M., & Rinehart, R. (2013). Promoting conceptual change through inquiry. In S. Vosniadou (Ed.) International Handbook of Conceptual Change (2nd ed.) (pp. 539-559). New York: Routledge.

    Pluta, W. J., Chinn, C. A., & Duncan, R. G. (2011). Learners’ epistemic criteria for good scientific models. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48, 486-511. DOI: 10.1002/tea.20415

    Chinn, C. A., & Clark, D. B. (2013). Learning through collaborative argumentation. In C. E. Hmelo-Silver, C. A. Chinn, C. K. K. Chan, & A. M. O’Donnell (Eds.) International Handbook of Collaborative Learning (pp. 314-332). New York: Taylor & Francis.

    Chinn, C. A., & Buckland, L. A. (2012). Model-based instruction: Fostering change in evolutionary conceptions and in epistemic practices. In K. S. Rosengren, S. K. Brem, E. M. Evans, & G. M. Sinatra (Eds.). Evolution challenges: Integrating research and practice in teaching and learning about evolution (pp. 211-232). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Chinn, C. A., Buckland, L. A., & Samarapungavan, A. (2011). Expanding the dimensions of epistemic cognition: Arguments from philosophy and psychology. Educational Psychologist, 46, 141-167.

    Duncan, R. G., Freidenreich, H. B., Chinn, C. A., & Bausch, A. (2011). Promoting middle-school students’ understanding of molecular genetics. Research in Science Education, 41, 147-167. DOI: 10.1007/s11165-009-9150-0

    Chinn, C. A., & Buckland, L. A. (2011). Differences in epistemic practices among scientists, young earth creationists, intelligent design creationists, and the scientist creationists of Darwin’s era. In R. Taylor and M. Ferrari (Eds.), Epistemology and science education: Understanding the evolution vs. intelligent design controversy (pp. 38-76). New York: Taylor & Francis.

    Chinn, C. A., & Samarapungavan, A. (2009). Conceptual change—multiple routes, multiple mechanisms: A commentary on Ohlsson (2009). Educational Psychologist, 44, 47-57.

    Chinn, C. A., & Malhotra, B. A. (2002). Epistemologically authentic reasoning in schools: A theoretical framework for evaluating inquiry tasks. Science Education, 86, 175-218.

    Chinn, C. A., & Samarapungavan, A. (2008). Learning to use scientific models: Multiple dimensions of conceptual change. In R. A. Duschl & R. E. Grandy (Eds.), Teaching scientific inquiry: Recommendations for research and implementation (pp. 191-225). Rotterdam, NL: Sense Publishers.

  • Research Initiatives

    My research focuses broadly on instructional methods for promoting better thinking and reasoning among students. I have collaborated with Ravit Duncan on two NSF grants investigating methods of teaching that promote model-based inquiry practices among middle-school science students. We are currently investigating in quasi-experimental classroom studies the effects of different methods for scaffolding student reasoning. More information about this project can be found at this site: (This is a temporary site still under construction; we expect to have a new site ready by the end of 2014.)
    In a closely related line of research, I have been working on what epistemic cognition is and how it can be enhanced. In this work, I have sought to bring ideas from the fields of epistemology and philosophy of science to improve our understanding of epistemic cognition. If you would like to know more about this line of research, please email me.

  • Expertise

    Epistemic cognition
    Learning through inquiry 
    Conceptual change
    Classroom research

  • 848-932-0824
  • 10 Seminary Place
    Room 319
    New Brunswick, NJ 08901
  • By appointment