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Karen Murphy

Dr. P. Karen Murphy

Interim Associate Dean for Research; Distinguished Professor of Education (EDPSY); Social Science Research Institute co-funded faculty member

Phone: 814-863-1498

277 Chambers Building
University Park, PA 16802


  • Dean's Office
  • Research Faculty and Staff
  • Research and Outreach
  • Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education


  • Educational Psychology


Dr. P. Karen Murphy is a Distinguished Professor of Education at The Pennsylvania State University, where she serves as Interim Associate Dean of Research and Outreach. She holds appointments in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education, as well as the Social Science Research Institute. Previously, Dr. Murphy was Head of the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education, Professor-in-Charge of the Educational Psychology Program, and Chair of the College Faculty Council. She was honored with the College of Education’s Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award for her contributions to faculty leadership.

Dr. Murphy’s research, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation, focuses on the role of critical-analytic thinking in the processing of disciplinary content. Her research program involves co-developing and implementing interventions like Quality Talk, with teachers and students, to maximize the effects of reasoning and classroom discussion on students’ comprehension and content-area learning. Her ongoing projects also explore the role of critical-analytic thinking and reasoning in elementary mathematics teacher education, the identification of academically productive talk across content areas, ages, and settings, and the fostering of students’ adaptive problem-solving in engineering design and production. Dr. Murphy is also involved in several ongoing international research collaborations in Taiwan, Switzerland, and South Africa. These international projects deal with enhancing students’ thinking and reasoning through classroom discussions about, around, and with text. Murphy frequently publishes in prestigious journals such as the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Psychology Review, and the Journal of Educational Psychology.

A Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Psychological Association, Dr. Murphy’s numerous recognitions and awards include being named to the National Academy of Education. She is also a Faculty Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Resilience at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. At Penn State, Dr. Murphy was named the Harry and Marion Royer Eberly Faculty Fellow and received the Senior Outstanding Researcher Award in the College of Education.

Dr. Murphy currently holds the position of Senior Editor of Contemporary Educational Psychology and has previously served as Editor of the Review of Educational Research, Executive Editor of the Journal of Experimental Education, and Associate Editor of Learning and Instruction. She also serves on the editorial boards of numerous journals including the South African Journal of Education and the Journal of Educational Psychology. Actively engaged in international organizations, Dr. Murphy served as Vice President of Division C (Learning and Instruction) of AERA and had been elected twice to AERA’s Executive Committee. 


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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