Louise Yarnall, Ph.D., is a senior research social scientist in SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning. She specializes in community college education research, assessment design, evaluation of scaling up classroom innovative instructional and assessment practices, and journalism education research.
Her community college education research focuses on workforce education, general education, and developmental education. Yarnall has analyzed and developed online communities to support professional development for faculty, analyzed video-based and e-portfolio records of faculty classroom instruction and assessment practices, and managed the design and development of Web tools to support faculty creation of formative and summative classroom assessments. This work can be helpful in understanding how to scale up specific instructional and assessment approaches.
Her assessment design work is grounded in evidence-centered design and uses SRI's Principled Assessments for Design in Inquiry (PADI) system. This work entails integrating insights from cognitive science into the design of classroom testing. Using these ideas, Yarnall develops solutions with a range of applications in classroom instruction and educational administration. She has developed a 21st century skills assessment framework to help faculty prioritize and specify learning goals for contextualized lessons, including scenario- and problem-based curricula.
Yarnall has also provided a framing for student learning outcome assessments at the postsecondary level that is an alternative to the currently popular “critical thinking” paradigm. Based on research in cognitive science, her work with domain-specific assessment provides a way for college faculty to assess how students learn to apply key domain concepts and reasoning skills both in workplace situations and everyday life.
Yarnall’s evaluation design work examines how teachers adapt to new pedagogies and technologies for instruction. This work has focused on how community college educators innovate their instructional activities to improve student success and use problem-based learning in technical education courses and how K-12 educators have used handheld devices to support science inquiry and collaborative learning.
Her journalism education research explores how to use new technology to improve investigative and analytical reporting. This work has involved codesigning instructional materials for a graduate journalism program and conducting an international survey into how journalism professors teach journalistic analytical techniques.
Yarnall's graduate training focused on qualitative and statistical methodologies of educational psychology; cognitive and socio-cultural theories of learning, children's literacy, representational fluency, and political development; and technology-based curriculum design. Her professional work in journalism has been featured in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She serves on the steering committee of SF Public Press, a nonprofit journalism startup covering San Francisco.
Yarnall's blog, Envisioning Student Learning , offers the latest resources and updates on assessment issues at the post-secondary level.