Clark A.

Profile: Clark A. Chinn

Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Faculty Development, and Research Outreach

My research teams are current working on two interconnected lines of research. In the first line of research (the Epistemic Education project), we are exploring new approaches to conceptualizing and investigating epistemic cognition. Our goal is then to develop instructional methods that help students reason more effectively in authentic situations such as reasoning about information found on the Internet. The second project is the PRACCIS project (Promoting Reasoning and Conceptual Change In Science), an ongoing collaboration with Ravit Golan Duncan.  In this project, we investigate curricula that promote growth in reasoning in middle school science classes, with a focus on scaffolds that support this growth. We have developed curricula that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and that promote conceptual change and model-based reasoning in the life sciences. You can learn more about this project at   More information can be also 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

    Ph.D. LCID Specialization in Educational Psychology

    Ph.D. LCID 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

    Barzilai, S., & Chinn, C. A. (in press). On the goals of epistemic education: Promoting apt epistemic performance.  Journal of the Learning Sciences.Chinn, C. A. (2017).  Promoting systems understanding.  Instructional Science, 45, 123-135.

    Chinn, C. A., Duncan, R. G., & Rinehart, R. W. (2018).  Epistemic design: Design to promote transferable epistemic growth in the PRACCIS project.  In E. Manalo, Y. Uesaka, & C. A. Chinn (Eds.),  Promoting spontaneous use of learning and reasoning strategies: Theory, research, and practice for effective transfer.  New York: Routledge.

    Manalo, E., Uesaka, Y., & Chinn, C. A. (Eds.). (2018). Promoting spontaneous use of learning and reasoning strategies: Theory, research, and practice for effective transfer.  New York: Routledge

    Chinn, C. A. (2018). Modeling, explanation, argumentation, and conceptual change. In T. G. Amin & O. Levrini (Eds.), Converging perspectives on conceptual change (pp. 206-226). London: Routledge.

    Chinn, C. A., & Rinehart, R. W. (2016). Advances in research on sourcing--source credibility and reliable processes for producing knowledge claims.  Reading and Writing, 29, 1701-1717.

    Rinehart, R. W., Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. A., Atkins, T., & DiBenedetti, J. (2016).  Critical design decisions for successful model-based inquiry in science classrooms. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 7, 17-40.

    Chinn, C. A., & Rinehart, R. W. (2016).  Epistemic cognition and philosophy: Developing a new framework for epistemic cognition.  In J. A. Greene, W. A. Sandoval, & I. Bråten (Eds), Handbook of epistemic cognition (pp. 460-478). New York: Routledge.

    Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. A. (2016).  New directions for research on argumentation: Insights from the AIR framework for epistemic cognition. German Journal of Educational Psychology, 30, 155-161.

    Hmelo-Silver, C. E., & Chinn, C. A. (2016). Collaborative learning. In E. Anderman & L. Corno (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (3rd ed.) (pp. 349-363). New York: Routledge.

    Rinehart, R. W., Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. A. (2014). A scaffolding suite to support evidence-based modeling and argumentation. Science Scope, pp. 70-77.

    Chinn, C. A., Rinehart, R. W., & Buckland, L. A. (2014). Epistemic cognition and evaluating information: Applying the AIR model of epistemic cognition. In D. Rapp and J. Braasch (Eds.), Processing inaccurate information: Theoretical and applied perspectives from cognitive science and the educational sciences(pp. 425-453). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Rogat, T. K., Witham, S., A., & Chinn, C. A. (2014). Teachers’ autonomy-relevant practices within an inquiry-based science curricular context: Extending the range of academically significant autonomy-supportive practices.  Teachers College Record, 116, 1-46.

    Chinn, C. A., & Sherin, B. L. (2014).  Microgenetic methods. In R. Keith Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (2nd Ed.) (pp. 171-190). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    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.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.

    Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Chinn, C. A., Chan, C. K. K., & O’Donnell, A. M. (Eds.) (2013). International Handbook of Collaborative Learning. New York: Taylor & Francis.

    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.

    Sinatra, G. M., & Chinn, C. A. (2012). Thinking and reasoning in science: Promoting epistemic conceptual change. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan (Eds.), APA Educational psychology handbook: Vol. 3. Application to learning and teaching (pp. 257-282). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    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.

    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., 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:

    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.

  • Awards

    Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Division 15 (Educational Psychology) (2017)

    Fellow of the American Educational Research Association  (2016)

  • Expertise

    Epistemic cognition
    Learning through inquiry 
    Conceptual change
    Classroom research

  • Files