Susan Jean Mayer is a developmental learning and democratic curriculum theorist whose research focuses on processes of democratic knowledge construction and on the implications of human diversity for democratic school practice. In her 2012 book, Classroom Discourse and Democracy: Making Meanings Together, she theorizes the relationship between these two areas of concern and employs classroom discourse analysis in order to develop the practical implications of her theoretical claims.

In her research, Susan employs discourse study and analysis as central tools for investigating the ways in which content understandings are generated during classroom discussions. In particular, she has studied a pedagogical approach called Critical Exploration in the Classroom (see Eleanor Duckworth’s The Having of Wonderful Ideas, Teachers College Press, 2006), which engages students in a serious collaborative consideration of some aspect of the world. One of her central aims is to help make this quality of learning experience available to all students, particularly those who have not thrived in their academic lives.