I generally am interested in: (a) the role of interest in learning and development; (b) change in the cognitive and affective functioning of learners; and (c) links between theory, research and practice as these pertain to changed understanding.
My research program presently focuses on the role of interest in learning and the conditions that support the development and deepening of learner interest. I have studied this question across a variety of contexts both in and out-of-school, including children's play and students' work with: expository text, mathematical word problems, and science. I have also undertaken editing responsibilities and writing that focuses on the implications of research in developmental psychology for educational practice in school, community-based, and on-line learning environments.
My teaching responsibilities reflect my research interests. Some courses I teach involve a focus on theory and research about how students learn and require consideration of the implications of this work for practice (Introduction to Education, Educational Psychology, Child Psychology and Practice). Others are grounded in the practice of teaching and informed by theory and research about how students learn (Curriculum and Methods, Supervision of Student Teachers).
I regularly spend time involved in field-based responsibilities by way of anchoring my thinking as a researcher and a teacher. This work has had various casts. Common to each is a focus on learning, motivation, and the design of learning environments to enhance learning. I am presently working as an evaluator on grants to Swarthmore College, the Math Forum (mathforum.org) and Stanford Research Institute. With funding from the Sloan Foundation, my colleagues and I have studied the access and retention of undergraduates in STEM disciplines; funding from the Mellon Foundation supported collaboration with faculty members in the physical sciences to identify and respond to the needs of students; and funding from the National Science Foundation has supported study of students', preservice teachers', and teachers' motivation and learning in mathematics. In the past this commitment to maintain direct involvement in practice has included: work with the Chinatown Tutorial Outreach Project housed at Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford College and the University of Pennsylvania; the Chester-Swarthmore College Coalition at the William Penn Housing Project and in Christopher Columbus Elementary School, Chester, PA; facilitation of on-line discussions for teachers about current research efforts in mathematics learning; work with grade K-2 teachers in the local Wallingford-Swarthmore School District to incorporate more developmental approaches in their work with students; and in-services for teachers ranging from individualizing instruction, multicultural approaches to education, to workshops on science instruction.
Hidi, S. & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41 (2), 111-127.
Renninger, K. A. (2009). Interest and identity development in instruction: An inductive model. Educational Psychologist, 44 (2), 1-14.
Renninger, K. A., & Hidi, S. (2011). Revisiting the conceptualization, measurement, and generation of interest. Educational Psychologist, 46(3), 168-184.
Renninger, K. A. & Su, S. (2012). Interest and its development. In R. Ryan (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Motivation (pp. 167-187). New York: Oxford University Press.
Lipstein, R. & Renninger, K. A. (2007). "Putting things into words": The development of 12-15-year-old students' interest for writing. In Boscolo, P. & Hidi, S. (Eds.), Motivation and writing: Research and School Practice (pp. 113-140). New York: Elsevier.
Renninger, K. A., Bachrach, J. E., & Posey, S. K. E. (2008). Learner interest and motivation: Distinct and Complementary. In M. L. Maehr, S. A. Karabenick, & T. C. Urdan (Eds.), Social psychological perspectives (pp. 461-491). Volume 15: Advances in Motivation and Achievement. United Kingdom: Emerald.
Renninger, K. A., & Riley, K. R. (2013). Interest, cognition, and the case of L__ in science. In Kreitler, S. (Ed.).Cognition and Motivation: Forging an Interdisciplinary Perspective (pp. 325-382). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Assessing learning and participation in virtual communities
Renninger, K. A., & Shumar, W. (2002). Community building with and for teachers: The Math Forum as a resource for teacher professional development. In K. A. Renninger & W. Shumar (Eds.), Building virtual communities: Learning and change in cyberspace (pp. 60-95). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Renninger, K. A., Ray, L. S., Luft, I., & Newton, E. L. (2005). Coding online content-informed scaffolding of mathematical thinking. New Ideas in Psychology, 23, pp. 152-165.
Renninger, K. A., Cai, M., Lewis, M., Adams, M., & Ernst, K. (2011). Motivation and learning in an online, unmoderated, mathematics workshop for teachers. Special Issue: Motivation and New Media. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 59 (2), 229-247.
Alejandre, S. & Renninger, K. A. (2009). Moving from feedback to scaffolding: Improving the LTD student's experience. In C. DiGiano, S. Goldman, & M. Chorost (Eds.), Education learning technology designers: Guiding and inspiring creators of innovative educational tools (pp. 101-121). New York: Routledge.
The Math Forum's Bridging Research and Practice Group (2000). Encouraging mathematical thinking: Discourse around a rich problem. http://mathforum.org/brap/wrap/
Renninger, K. A., Stein, S., Koenig, J., & Mabbot, A. (2006). Conditions that support the development of mathematical thinking. In J. O. Masinglia (Ed.), Teachers engaged in research: Inquiry into mathematical practice in grades 6-8 (119-146). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Theory to practice
Lipstein, R. & Renninger, K. A. (2007). Interest for writing: How teachers can make a difference. English Journal, 96 (4), 79-85.
Renninger, K. A. (1998). Developmental psychology and instruction: Issues from and for practice. In W. Damon (Gen. Ed.) & I. E. Sigel & K. A. Renninger (Vol. Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4. Child psychology in practice (5th ed., pp. 211-274). New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Renninger, K. A. (2010). Working with and cultivating interest, self-efficacy, and self-regulation. In D. Preiss & R. Sternberg (Eds.), Innovations in educational psychology: Perspectives on learning, teaching and human development (pp. 158-195). New York: Springer.