John Bransford

Emeritus Professor

Dr. John D. Bransford is Professor Emeritus of Learning Sciences and Psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Bransford is also Founding Director of The Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Center, an National Science Foundation (NSF) Science of Learning Center.

The University of Washington, Stanford University, and SRI International received funding from the NSF for a ten-year research center on the science of learning. The LIFE Center seeks to understand and advance human learning through a simultaneous focus on implicit, informal, and formal learning, thus cultivating generalizable interdisciplinary theories that can guide the design of effective new technologies and learning environments.

Previously, Dr. Bransford was Centennial Professor of Psychology and Education and Co-Director of the Learning Technology Center at Vanderbilt University. Early works by Bransford and his colleagues in the 1970s included research in the areas of human learning, memory and problem solving, which helped shape the cognitive revolution in psychology. Author of seven books and hundreds of articles and presentations, Bransford is an internationally renowned scholar in cognition and technology.

In 1984 Bransford was asked by the Dean of Peabody College at Vanderbilt to help begin a Learning Technology Center that would focus on education. The Center grew from 7 people in 1984 to approximately 100 by 1999. During that time, Bransford and his colleagues developed and tested a number of innovative computer, videodisc, CD-Rom, and Internet programs for mathematics, science, and literacy. Examples include the Jasper Woodbury Problem Solving Series in Mathematics, the Scientists in Action Series, and the Little Planet Literacy Series. Many of these programs are being used in schools throughout the world.Bransford's dissertation won honorable mention in the national Creative Talent Awards contest; several of his published articles (co-authored with colleagues) have won article of the year in the areas of science education, technology, design, and theories of transfer. The Little Planet Literacy Series, has won major awards including the 1996 Technology and Learning Award and the 1997 Cody award for Best Elementary Curriculum from the Software Publishers Association. Bransford received the Sutherland Prize for Research at Vanderbilt, was elected to the National Academy of Education, and was awarded the Thorndike award in 2001.

Bransford served as Co-Chair of several National Academy of Science committees. These committees wrote How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom (2005), How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School (1999, 2000), and How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice (1999). Recently, he co-edited, with Linda Darling-Hammond, Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do (2005). He is on the International and United States Board of Advisors for Microsoft's Partners in Learning program, and he has worked with the Gates Foundation to develop technology-enhanced workshops that link learning and leadership.

Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Cognitive Psychology, 1970

Bransford, J.D., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2005). Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Branford, J.D., & Donovan, S.M. (2005). How students learn: History, mathematics, and science in the classroom. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R.R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Donovan, M.S., Bransford, J.D. & Pellegrino, J.W. (Eds.), (1999). How people learn: Bridging research and practice. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1997). The Jasper Project: Lessons in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bransford, J.D. & Stein, B.S. (1993). The IDEAL problem solver (2nd ed.), New York: Freeman.

Bransford, J.D. & Stein, B.S. (1984). The IDEAL problem solver, New York: Freeman.

Kinzer, C., Sherwood, R. & Bransford, J. (1986). Computer strategies for education: Foundations and content-area applications. Ohio: Merrill.

Bransford, J.D. (1979). Human cognition: Learning, understanding, and remembering. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co.

Shaw, R.E. & Bransford, J.D. (Eds.) (1977). Perceiving, acting, and knowing: Toward an ecological psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

New features

In the following letter of remembrance from Dean Mia Tuan, collaborators of Professor Emeritus John Bransford share their reflections on his impactful contributions to the field of education and generous influence as a beloved mentor and colleague.

Dear colleagues and friends of the UW College of Education,