Harvard Graduate School of Education | Project Zero

Principal Investigators

Danielle S. Allen, Principal Investigator. Political theorist Danielle S. Allen, M.A. ’98, Ph.D. ’01, has been appointed both to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) as a professor in the Government Department and to Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics as its director. In addition, she will join Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education as a principal investigator where she will continue work on The Humanities and Liberal Arts Assessment (HULA) project.
Danielle Allen is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), and Our Declaration(Norton/Liveright, 2014). In 2002, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her ability to combine “the classicist’s careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist’s sophisticated and informed engagement.” She is currently working on books on citizenship in the digital age and political equality. Allen is a frequent public lecturer and regular guest on public radio affiliates to discuss issues of citizenship, as well as an occasional contributor on similar subjects to theWashington Post, Boston Review, Democracy, Cabinet, and The Nation.

Veronica Boix-Mansilla, Principal Investigator. Veronica Boix Mansilla is a Principal Investigator at Project Zero. Her research examines how human beings enhance their understanding of complex problems by using the lenses of disciplines like history, science, or the arts, or by combining disciplinary approaches in novel ways. She studies the developmental progressions that lead youngsters from early intuitive conceptions of the world to understandings that are informed by one or more disciplines. Her research bridges the minds and worlds of experts, educators, and learners and stands at the crossroads of fields like cognitive and developmental psychology, epistemology, sociology of knowledge and education. She links theory and practice learning from, and informing, initiatives in curriculum design, teaching, learning, assessment, and professional development in K-12 and higher education.

Veronica is a co-principal investigator with Howard Gardner in the "Interdisciplinary Studies Project"funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. This study examines the intellectual, organizational, and pedagogical qualities of exemplary interdisciplinary work as it takes place in expert institutions and exemplary collegiate and pre-collegiate educational programs. Drawing on data collected at institutions such as the MIT Media Lab, the Stanford Human Biology program, and the Illinois Math and Science Academy, the study is developing a framework to characterize interdisciplinary work and inform interdisciplinary educational practice.

Veronica led research initiatives centered on disciplinary understanding in a variety of projects at Project Zero. In "The Pursuit of Understanding" study, she compared award-winning adolescents' beliefs about what makes an account trustworthy in science and in history. The study characterized higher level reasoning in these disciplines and showed their lack of cross-domain transferability. Through the "Assessing Historical Understanding" project, Veronica and her colleagues collaborated with Facing History and Ourselves to develop an exemplary assessment case study. The case sheds light on middle school students' ability to use their understanding of the past to think about the present. As a researcher in the ATLAS Seminar, Veronica focused on examining the role of disciplinary understanding in systemic school reform. Her seminar writings examined the importance and challenges of a disciplinary turn in K-12 curriculum design. Working on the Teaching for Understanding Project she and her colleagues led the development of a framework to characterize dimensions of quality understanding.

In addition to her research, Veronica is actively involved in professional development in national and international contexts. She is particularly interested in the challenges of reinterpreting Project Zero's frameworks to serve developing countries--a mission she undertakes as the co-founder and director of the L@titud Project at PZ. The project supports Latin American initiatives that promote deep understanding in schools, museums, and other institutions. Project affiliates participate in professional development endeavors and disseminate information about publications, materials, and events.

Veronica serves as an educational advisor at a variety of institutions on matters of pedagogy, curriculum design, assessment and professional development. Examples of institution include the Fundación Omar Dengo (Costa Rica), the International Baccalaureate, the Organization of American States, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Regiones Educativas project (Puerto Rico).

Liz Dawes Duraisingh, Principal Investigator. Liz Dawes Duraisingh has been associated with Project Zero since 2003, when she began working as a research assistant on the Interdisciplinary Studies Project. After taking time out to complete her doctorate, she returned to Project Zero and was made a Principal Investigator in January 2014. Liz primarily works on the Out of Eden Learn project with Carrie James and Shari Tishman, developing an innovative online learning space to accompany journalist Paul Salopek’s seven-year walk along the migratory pathways of our ancient human ancestors. Out of Eden Learn builds in part on Liz’s doctoral research, which explored the ways in which young people use the past to help make sense of their own lives, identities, and values - for which she won the 2013 Larry Metcalf Exemplary Dissertation Award from the National Council for the Social Studies. Liz’s work is motivated by a broad interest in making history and social studies education personally relevant for young people; she is interested in designing learning experiences that invite and support youth to connect their own lives to bigger human stories, while encouraging them to think critically about their own perspectives on the past and present. Liz also serves as an Adjunct Lecturer at HGSE, teaching Introduction to Qualitative Research. She was previously a middle and high school history teacher for eight years, working in both England and Australia. She has a B.A. in History and French from Oxford University, a Post Graduate Certificate of Education from the Institute of Education, University of London, and an Ed.M. and Ed.D. from HGSE.

Howard Gardner, Principal Investigator. Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He also holds positions as Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero. Among numerous honors, Gardner received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981. He has received honorary degrees from thirty colleges and universities, including institutions in Bulgaria, Chile, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, South Korea, and Spain. He has twice been selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world. Gardner received the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences in 2011. 

The author of twenty-nine books translated into thirty-two languages, and several hundred articles, Gardner is best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences, a critique of the notion that there exists but a single human intelligence that can be adequately assessed by standard psychometric instruments. Gardner also directs the Good Project, a set of research endeavors about work, citizenship, collaboration, and digital life. More recently, with long time Project Zero colleagues Lynn Barendsen and Wendy Fischman, he has conducted reflection sessions designed to enhance the understanding and incidence of good work among young people. With Carrie James and other colleagues at Project Zero, he is also investigating ethical dimensions entailed in the use of the new digital media. Among new research undertakings are a study of effective collaboration among non-profit institutions in education, a study of conceptions of quality, nationally and internationally, in the contemporary era, and a major study of liberal arts and sciences in the 21st Century. His latest book with co-author Katie Davis, titled The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in the Digital World, was published in October 2013. In 2014, Gardner’s Festschrift, entitled Mind, Work, and Life, was published in honor of his 70th birthday and is available for free electronicallyIn 2015, he received the Brock International Prize in Education.
Please visit his website at www.howardgardner.com and his official website on Multiple Intelligences theory at www.multipleintelligencesoasis.org.
Read his faculty profile on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s website.
Tina Grotzer, Principal Investigator. Tina Grotzer is an associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a principal investigator at Project Zero, and a faculty member at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research identifies ways in which understandings about the nature of causality impact our ability to deal with complexity in our world. It has four dominant strands: 1) How reasoning about causal complexity interacts with our decisions in the everyday world; 2) How causal understanding develops in supported contexts; 3) How causal understanding interacts with science learning (with the goal of developing curriculum to support deep understanding); and 4) the public understanding of science given the nature of science, the nature of causal complexity and the architecture of the human mind.

Tina directs the Understandings of Consequence Research Unit. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). She was awarded a Career Award from NSF in 2009 to enable her to extend this inquiry and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from President Obama in 2011.  She is a Co-PI with Chris Dede on the EcoMOBILE Project, funded by NSF (an extension of the earlier EcoMUVE Project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)), the goal of which is to teach the complex causal dynamics of ecosystems to middle school students.

Tina was a program coordinator and teacher for 14 years, in the Arlington Public Schools, MA and at Poughkeepsie Day School, a Pre-K-12 school committed to child study and developing learner-centered programs.  She received her doctorate in 1993 and her master’s in 1985 from Harvard University. She received her bachelor’s in Developmental Psychology from Vassar College in 1981, transferring from Dutchess Community College after being recruited to Vassar by Dr. Colton Johnson through the program he was developing to build bridges for capable community college students (for which she is eternally grateful).

Carrie James, Principal Investigator. Carrie James is a Research Director and Principal Investigator at Project Zero, and Lecturer on Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A sociologist by training, Carrie’s research explores young people's digital, moral, and civic lives. Since arriving at PZ in 2003, Carrie has worked with Howard Gardner and colleagues on The Good Project. She co-directs the Good Play Project, a research and educational initiative focused youth, ethics, and the new digital media, and the Good Participation project, a study of how youth “do civics” in the digital age. Carrie is also co-PI of the Out of Eden Learn project, an educational companion to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek's epic Out of Eden walk. Her publications include Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap (The MIT Press, Forthcoming, 2014). Carrie is a recurring faculty member for the Project Zero Classroom and the Future of Learning summer institutes. She holds an M.A.(1996) and a Ph.D.(2003) in Sociology from New York University. You can follow her on Twitter at: @carrie_james. carrie_james(at)harvard.edu

David Perkins, Principal Investigator. David Perkins is the Carl H. Pforzheimer, Jr., Research Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, recently retired from the Senior Faculty. He has conducted long-term programs of research and development in the areas of teaching and learning for understanding, creativity, problem-solving and reasoning in the arts, sciences, and everyday life. He has also studied the role of educational technologies in teaching and learning, and has designed learning structures and strategies in organizations to facilitate personal and organizational understanding and intelligence.

David Perkins received his Ph.D. in mathematics and artificial intelligence from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970. As a graduate student he also was a founding member of Harvard Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He co-directed Project Zero for nearly 30 years, and now serves as senior co-director on its steering committee.

His most recent book, published by Jossey-Bass in Fall 2014, is Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World. His Making Learning Whole (Jossey-Bass, 2008) shares an approach to organizing learning around full meaningful endeavors. He is the author of The Mind’s Best Work on creativity (Harvard University Press, 1981), The Eureka Effect on creativity (Norton, 2001), Smart Schools on pedagogy and school development (The Free Press, 1992), Outsmarting IQ on intelligence and its cultivation (The Free Press, 1995), Knowledge as Design on teaching and learning for understanding (Erlbaum, 1986), The Intelligent Eye on learning to think through the arts (Getty, 1994), King Arthur’s Round Table: How Collaborative Conversations Create Smart Organizations (Wiley, 2003), and has co-authored and co-edited several other books, as well as publishing many articles.

Ron Ritchhart, Principal Investigator. Ron Ritchhart is a Senior Research Associate at Harvard Project Zero where his work focuses on such issues as teaching for understanding, the development of intellectual character, creative teaching, making students' thinking visible, and most recently the development of school and classroom culture. Ron's research and writings, particularly his theory of intellectual character and framework for understanding group culture through the “Cultural Forces,” have informed the work of schools, school systems, and museums throughout the world. His current research focuses on how classrooms change as teachers strive to make thinking valued, visible, and actively promoted in their classrooms. He is also currently exploring what it means to lead a culture of thinking.
Ron’s research has mainly taken two forms: case studies and design research. Ron uses case studies of teachers to understand the complexity of teaching and how ideas, methods, instruction, and curriculum play out within the context of real classrooms. This research in context provides a window into best practices and has allowed for the identification and exemplification of key principles of teaching. Using design research methods, Ron focuses on the process of learning by designing tools, such as thinking routines, that learners can use. The effectiveness of such tools is judged by learners themselves through their application.
Ron’s most recent book, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools, will be published by Jossey-Bass in early 2015. The book explores each of the eight cultural forces through a series of cases studies of expert teachers from around the globe. The book is designed as a guide, complete with action steps for schools and teachers to take to move forward in understanding and leveraging each cultural force. The book Making Thinking Visible (Jossey-Bass 2011), written with Mark Church and Karin Morrison, takes readers inside a diverse range of learning environments to show how thinking can be made visible at any level and across all subject areas through the use of effective questioning, listening, documentation, and facilitative structures called thinking routines. In Intellectual Character (Jossey-Bass 2001), Ron makes the case for the development of thinking dispositions as a chief goal of schools and documents how this plays out in the classrooms of expert teachers. Ron is also the lead author of the Creative Classroom Series published by Disney Learning Partnership. ron_ritchhart(at)harvard.edu

Steve Seidel, Principal Investigator. Steve Seidel is the director of the Arts in Education Program at HGSE. At Project Zero, he was principal investigator on projects that study the use of reflective practices in schools, the close examination of student work, and documentation of learning. This research currently included The Evidence Project, a study using student work as evidence of learning and teaching, and Making Learning Visible, a study of group learning and assessment in partnership with the Reggio Emilia early childhood schools in Italy. He recently completed Arts Survive, a study of the sustainability of arts education partnerships. His teaching and writing for the past decade have largely focused on arts education and the improvement of teaching and assessment across elementary and secondary settings. He also convenes a monthly discussion group on collaborative assessment for educators: ROUNDS at Project Zero. Before coming to the School, he taught high-school theater and language arts in the Boston area for 17 years.

Shari Tishman, Director and Principal Investigator. Shari Tishman is the Director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is also a Senior Research Associate and a Lecturer in the Arts in Education program. Her research focuses on the development of thinking and understanding, learning in museums, and learning in and through the arts. She is currently at work on Agency by Design, a project that explores the intersect of design thinking, the maker movement, and Project Zero frameworks; and Out of Eden, an online learning component of an epic seven-year world walk on which  journalist Paul Salopek is retracing the ancient path of human migration while reporting on contemporary global issues. Recent projects include The Qualities of Quality: Excellence in Arts Education and How to Achieve It, and Learning in and from Museum Study Centers. Tishman is a co-developer of Visible Thinking, a dispositional approach to teaching thinking that foregrounds the use of thinking routines and the documentation of student thinking, and also of Artful Thinking, a related approach that emphasizes the development of thinking dispositions through looking at art.

Daniel Wilson, Principal Investigator. Daniel Wilson is a Principal Investigator at Project Zero, a Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), Faculty on the Doctorate for Educational Leadership at HGSE, and the Educational Chair at Harvard’s “Learning Environments for Tomorrow” Institute – a collaboration with HGSE and Harvard Graduate School of Design. His teaching and writing explores the inherent socio-psychological tensions – dilemmas of knowing, trusting, leading, and belonging -- in adult collaborative learning across a variety of contexts. Specifically he focuses on how groups navigate these tensions through language, routines, roles, and artifacts.  This interest is can be seen in three areas of current work:

Professional learning in communities: How do a variety of professionals come together to learn with and from one another? Currently Daniel directs the research of Project Zero’s “Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA),” an interdisciplinary professional learning community that facilitates cross-organizational learning on contemporary challenges of human development and change in organizations.  LILA involves top leaders from twenty global organizations such as the Cisco, Novartis, the CIA, Steelcase, and the US Army.  Since 2000, LILA has conducted dozens of explorations into themes such as the emerging science of decision making, the future of learning, and leadership development.

Learning & Leadership behaviors in the workplace: How do professionals develop and deploy actions that enable learning in their everyday work? His co-authored book, Learning at Work (2005), outlines practices that support formal and informal learning in the workplace.  From 2007-2011 he was a Research Fellow at the acclaimed innovation design consultancy, IDEO, in which he studied and designed interventions to enhance the learning and leadership behaviors in their design teams.  Additionally, is currently co-directing the “Leading Learning that Matters”, a research project with 25 independent schools in Victoria, Australia that aims to document innovative school leadership practices that support 21st century learning skills.   

Making Learning Visible: How can teachers and students create new forms of learning in which their identities and their knowledge can be made more visible to themselves and to others?   Daniel was the Principal Investigator on the “Making Learning Visible Project,” a project that engages pre-k through highschool educators in adapting the Reggio Emilia pedagogical principles.  This work will soon be published in the 2013 book, Visible Learners (Jossey-Bass).

Since joining Project Zero as a researcher in 1993 he has also participated on projects such as: Teaching for Understanding (1993-1996), Understanding for Organizations (1996-1999), Teaching for Understanding in Universities (1996-1999), Wide World Project (1999-2002), Project-based Learning in After Schools Project (2000-2002), and the Storywork Project with the International Storytelling Institute (2002-2004). When not working he can be found playing drums and percussion with a local band and enjoying his daughter and son, Ruby and Nicolai, with his wife and Project Zero colleague, Terri Turner.

Ellen Winner, Principal Investigator. Ellen Winner is Professor and Chair of Psychology at Boston College, and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education. She directs the Arts and Mind Lab, which focuses on cognition in the arts in typical and gifted children. She is the author of over 100 articles and four books: Invented Worlds: The Psychology of the Arts (Harvard University Press, 1982); The Point of Words: Children's Understanding of Metaphor and Irony (Harvard University Press, 1988); Gifted Children: Myths and Realities (BasicBooks, 1997, translated into six languages and winner of the Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Book Award in Science); and co-author of Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education (Teachers College Press, 2007). She served as President of APA's Division 10, Psychology and the Arts, in 1995-1996, and in 2000 received the Rudolf Arnheim Award for Outstanding Research by a Senior Scholar in Psychology and the Arts from Division 10.  She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 10) and of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics.