Research Interests

Learning Sciences & Human Development
Science & Mathematics
Teacher Education & Research

Susan Nolen

Emeritus Professor

My main research interests are in designing environments to support engagement and in how motivation to learn develops over time in social contexts. Most recently I have worked within a sociocultural framework to understand why people take up or reject social practices and how motives arise in social interaction. A secondary interest is in assessment in schools, and the effects of various policies and practices on teacher and student motivation.

I have retired. Although I am still conducting research and writing, I am not accepting students or sponsoring visiting scholars.

Ph.D. Purdue University, 1986: Educational Psychology
M.Ed. Lewis & Clark College, 1976: Education of the Hearing-Impaired
B.A. Portland State University, 1975: Speech Pathology & Audiology


Taylor, C. S., & Nolen, S. B.  (2008).  Classroom assessment: Supporting teaching and learning in real classrooms (2nd Ed.).  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Selected Articles & Chapters

Tierney, G., Goodell, A., Nolen, S. B., & Lee, N. (2018). (Re)Designing for engagement in a project-based AP environmental science course. Journal of Experimental Education. doi:10.1080/00220973.2018.1535479

Nolen, S. B. & Koretsky, M. D. (2018) Affordances of virtual and physical laboratory projects for instructional design: impacts on student engagement. IEEE Transactions on Education, 1-8. doi:10.1109/TE.2018.2791445.

Koretsky, M. D., Montfort, D., Nolen, S. B., Bothwell, M., Davis, S., & Sweeney, J. (2018) Towards a stronger covalent bond: pedagogical change for inclusivity and equity. Chemical Engineering Education, 52(2).

Nolen, S. B., Horn, I. S., & Ward, C. J. (2015). Situating motivation. Educational Psychologist, 50(3).

Turner, J., & Nolen, S. B. (2015) The relevance of the situative perspective in educational psychology. Educational Psychologist, 50(3).

Parker, W., Lo, J., Yeo, A. J., Valencia, S. W., Nguyen, D., Abbott, R., Nolen, S. B., Bransford, John, Vye, N. L. (2013). Beyond breadth-speed-test: Toward deeper knowing and engagement in an advanced placement course. American Educational Research Journal, 50(6), 1424-1459.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J. , & Horn, I. S. (2012). Studying the development of motivation, identity and learning in multiple social contexts: A situative approach. European Journal of Psychology in Education, 27, 267–284.

Nolen, S. B. (2011) The role of educational systems in the link between formative assessment and motivation. Theory Into Practice, 50, 319–326.

Nolen, S. B., Horn, I. S., Ward, C. J., & Childers, S. (2011). Novice teacher learning and motivation across contexts: Assessment tools as boundary objects. Cognition & Instruction, 27 (1), 88-122.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J. , & Horn, I. S. (2012). Studying the development of motivation, identity and learning in multiple social contexts: A situative approach. European Journal of Psychology of Education. Online November 9, 2011.

Ward, C. J., Nolen, S. B., & Horn, I. S. (2011). Productive friction: How conflict in student teaching creates opportunities for learning at the boundary. International Journal of Educational Research.

Frey, K. S., & Nolen, S. B. (2010).  Taking “Steps” toward ecological change: A transactional model of school-wide social competence and bullying intervention.  In J. Meece & J. Eccles (Eds.), Schooling Effects on Children: Theory, Methods, & Applications. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., Horn, I. S., Childers, S., Campbell, S., & Mahna, K. (2009). Motivation in preservice teachers: The development of utility filters. In M. Wosnitza, S. A. Karabenick, A. Efklides & P. Nenniger (Eds.). Contemporary Motivation Research: From Global to Local Perspectives. Ashland, OH: Hogrefe & Huber.

Horn, I. S., Nolen, S. B., Ward, C. J., Campbell, S. S. (2008) Developing practices in multiple worlds: The role of identity in learning to teach. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(3), 61-72

Nolen, S. B. & Ward, C. J. (2008). Sociocultural and situative research on motivation. In M. Maehr, S. Karabenick, & T. Urdan (Eds.), Social psychological perspective on motivation and achievement (pp. 428-460). Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 15). London: Emerald Group.

Nolen, S. B. (2007) Young children’s motivation to read and write: development in social contexts.  Cognition & Instruction, 25(2), 219–270.

Nolen, S. B. (2006).  The role of social context in the development of motivation to write.  In Suzanne Hidi and Pietro Boscolo (Eds.), Motivation to write (pp. 238-253). Volume in Studies In Writing:International Series on the Research of Learning and Instruction of Writing.  Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer.

Frey, K. S., Nolen, S. B., Eckstrom, L. V. S., & Hirschstein, M. K. (2005). Effects of a school-based social competence program: Linking goals, attributions, and behavior. Applied Developmental Psychology, 26(2), 171-200.

Nolen, S. B.  (2003) Learning environment, achievement, and motivation in high school science.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 347-368.

Nolen, S. B.  (2001).   Constructing literacy in the kindergarten: Task structure, collaboration and motivation.  Cognition & Instruction, 19, 95-142.