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Karen Murphy

Dr. P. Karen Murphy

Department Head; Distinguished Professor of Education (EDPSY)

Phone: 814-863-2278

102 CEDAR Building
University Park, PA 16802


  • Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education


  • Educational Psychology



P. Karen Murphy is a Department Head and Distinguished Professor of Education (EDPSY) in the College of Education at Penn State.


Dr. Murphy’s research investigates processes underlying students’ abilities to read and understand text and content, critically examine and evaluate the information presented, and make reasoned judgments from reading. Her ongoing projects pertain to the role of critical-analytic thinking in teaching and learning, promoting high-level comprehension and content area learning through classroom discussion in elementary language arts classrooms and using discourse to enhance content learning and conceptual change in high school physics and chemistry classrooms. Her research is funded by both the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation.


Dr. Murphy frequently publishes in such prestigious journals as the Educational PsychologistJournal of Educational PsychologyContemporary Educational Psychology, and the Educational Researcher. She also recently co-authored a book on instructional leadership and learning for school administrators and has contributed to multiple book chapters, including two recent chapters in the Handbook of Educational Psychology. In addition, Dr. Murphy is a regular presenter at national and international conferences, including the annual meetings of the American Psychological Association, American Educational Research Association, and European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction.


Currently, Dr. Murphy is the incoming Editor of the Review of Educational Research, a former Executive Editor of the Journal of Experimental Education, and a former Associate Editor of Learning and Instruction. She also serves on the editorial boards of numerous other journals including the Contemporary Educational PsychologyJournal of Educational Psychology, and the Educational Psychologist.


Active in several national organizations, she is the immediate past Vice President of Division C (Learning and Instruction) and served two terms on the Executive Board of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She also serves as AERAs Chair of the Ethics Committee.


Among her honors, Dr. Murphy is a Fellow of both the American Educational Research Association and the American Psychological Association and was the recipient of the Richard E. Snow Early Career Achievement award by Division 15 of the American Psychological Association (APA) for her research on student learning.

Areas of Expertise


Classroom Management
Learning Standards

Educational Studies


Methodological Research

Discourse Analysis
Quantitative Research

Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education

Educational Psychology

Special Education

Early Intervention
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