Focusing on how people become highly literate, how they learn through reading and writing, and what this means for future instruction, her work has broadened immeasurably our understanding of the ways in which context and culture interact to affect thinking and learning. She has effectively moved disciplinary scholarship on literacy and language-development to an integrated sociocognitive perspective.
Presently studying the processes involved in literary understanding and the contribution of literature instruction to students' reasoning, Langer is director of the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, located at the University and funded by the U.S. Department of Education for five years and $12.5 million. Under her direction, researchers are conducting 18 different studies that will explore the learning process, support curriculum development and integrate technology into coursework.
She is also a senior scholar in the University's Writing and Literacy Center and current chair of the Department of Educational Theory and Practice.
She has published eight books, 45 articles, 13 technical reports and 23 editorials on language and the learning processes. For the last 15 years, she has been involved with the federal government's National Assessment of Educational Progress, resulting in her authoring 14 different monographs in this time on achievement in reading, writing, literature and other subjects.
She has been awarded a fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation at its study center in Bellagio, Italy, the Richard Meade Award from the National Council of Teachers of English, been appointed the distinguished Benton Visiting Professor at the University at Chicago, and she has edited the premiere journal in her field, Research and Teaching in English, for an eight-year term.