Jennifer Russell

Jennifer Lin Russell is an assistant professor of Learning Sciences and Policy in the School of Education and a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research examines policy and other educational improvement initiatives through an organizational perspective. Her recent work examines two primary issues: (1) how schools create social and organizational structures that support reform; and (2) how inter-organizational collaborations can be structured for educational improvement. In the first strand she has examined how teachers’ social networks influence their implementation of reform mathematics practice in two urban districts (Coburn & Russell, 2008; Coburn, Russell, Kaufman & Stein, 2012; Russell, Coburn & Kaufman, in preparation). The second strand of research examines how organizations can productively collaborate to pursue educational improvement. In a recent publication she explored how informal education organizations, such as museums and community centers, collaborate with schools and districts to expand regional educational opportunities for children and youth (e.g. Russell, Knutson & Crowley, in press). And in a new study funded by the William T. Grant Foundation she is collaborating with colleagues at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to identify essential capacities and design consideration for the formation of networks aimed at improving persistent problems of education practice. Her research has also been funded by the Spencer Foundation and the Institute for Education Sciences.

Academic Title

Associate Professor


Other Titles

Research Scientist, Learning Research and Development Center


Contact Information

LRDC 808


Program Affiliations



Research Interests

Organizational perspective on educational improvement

Educational policy, particularly special education, standards-based reform

Networks and network analysis

Learning ecologies

Qualitative research methods 



•   PhD, Policy and Organizations, School of Education, University of California, Berkeley (2007)

•   MA, Curriculum and Instruction, University of San Francisco

•   BA, Political Science and Urban Studies, Northwestern University


Time at University of Pittsburgh

Since 2007


Professional Experience

Associate Professor of Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh (2014-present)

Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Policy, University of Pittsburgh (2007-2014)


Recent Publications

Russell, J. L., Meredith, J.*, Childs, J.*, Stein, M. K., & Prine, D. W. (in press). Implementing education policy through organizational networks: An analysis of state Race to the Top applications. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

Russell, J. L., Jackson, K., Krumm, A., & Frank, K. (2013). Theories and methodologies for design-based implementation research: Examples from four cases. In B. J. Fishman, W. R. Penuel, A. R. Allen, & B. H. Cheng (Eds.), Design based implementation research. National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook, 112(2).

Russell, J. L., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2013). Collaborations bridging the formal-informal divide in an urban educational ecology. Journal of Educational Change, 14, 259-281. [Lead article]

Russell, J. L., & Bray, L. E.* (2013). Crafting coherence from complex policy messages: Educators’ perceptions of special education and standards-based accountability policies. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 21(5).

Coburn, C. E., Russell, J. L., Kaufman, J., & Stein, M. K. (2012). Supporting sustainability: Teachers’ advice networks and ambitious instructional reform. American Journal of Education, 119(1), 137-182.