Jianwei Zhang

Jianwei Zhang

Department of Educational Theory & Practice
School of Education


Catskill 243
Jianwei Zhang

Dr. Jianwei Zhang is a Professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice (ETAP), School of Education, University at Albany, State University at New York. He served as ETAP’s Department Chair during 2015-2018.

Dr. Zhang’s research investigates how students work as knowledge builders to address authentic challenges facing the local and global communities, leveraging creative knowledge processes and technologies that are essential to future careers and civic lives. In collaboration with computer scientists and school partners, his team currently explores designs of human-AI partnerships for enhancing students’ knowledge-building inquiry and collaborative discourse.

Dr. Zhang’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and other sources (over $2.5 million in the past decade).  A rich set of publications has been generated based on long-term, design-based research in schools. The findings contribute to advancing conceptual and pedagogical frameworks on how to engage students’ epistemic agency for co-organizing collective inquiry directions, opportunistic groups, and meta-talks, which propel ever-growing knowledge-building trajectories. The classroom design further incorporates cross-community collaboration, which gives students a larger stage for generating and sharing valuable ideas. A suite of technology tools (e.g., Idea Thread Mapper) have been created to enable more dynamic classroom configurations and interactions.

Dr. Zhang’s work has been recognized through a number of awards, including the UAlbany Award for Distinguished Public Engagement and several outstanding article awards from prestigious journals and conferences. In 2023, he was inducted as a Fellow of the International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS). Among his academic leadership roles, Dr. Zhang has served as Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Learning Sciences (2021-2024), a flagship journal of ISLS. 

In his teaching and mentoring, Dr. Zhang is devoted to creating a collaborative knowledge community among his own students. Members of his classes have created a rich set of mini-courses targeting teacher learning, which are hosted in the open knowledge space of KNILT (Knowledge Network for Innovations in Learning and Teaching, https://knilt.arcc.albany.edu/)

Dr. Zhang earned his doctorate (educational psychology) from Beijing Normal University. Prior to joining UAlbany in 2007, he worked as postdoctoral fellow at OISE/University of Toronto and a faculty member at Tsinghua University in Beijing.