Susan Jean Mayer studies and supports curricular approaches that promote reflective deliberation and collaboration in schools, at both the classroom and professional development levels.

Her recent book, Classroom Discourse and Democracy: Making Meanings Together (Peter Lang, 2012), explains the pedagogical importance of fostering collaborative knowledge construction processes based upon contemporary learning theory and democratic principle. In making these arguments, Susan draws primarily on the scholarship of philosopher John Dewey and that of developmental learning theorists Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, as well as upon the scholarship of those who have built on their ideas.

In her research, Susan employs discourse study and analysis as central tools for investigating the ways in which content understandings are generated in classroom discussions. Susan’s work has focused on curricular formats and teaching styles that engage 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 students who attend impoverished schools and those who have not thrived in their academic lives.