Susan Jean Mayer is a democratic curriculum and developmental learning theorist. In her book, Classroom Discourse and Democracy: Making Meanings Together (Peter Lang, 2012), Susan drew on classroom discourse analysis to investigate the roles that students assume in the construction of content understandings during classroom discussions. The Framing/Developing/Evaluating heuristic presented there is intended to highlight the participation of teacher and students across all three of these essential phases of collaborative knowledge construction processes.

In her research, Susan has focused on a pedagogical approach called Critical Exploration in the Classroom (CEC), originated by Eleanor Duckworth (2006), which engages students in peer-driven knowledge construction processes based on their collaborative investigation of focal materials. A central aim of hers has been to contribute to making this inclusive and engaging quality of learning experience available to all students, particularly those who have not thrived in their school lives.

A new edited volume, In Search of Wonderful Ideas: Critical Exploration in Teacher Education, (Teachers College Press, 2021) conveys the stories of teacher educators who have integrated the practice of CEC into their courses and programs and theorizes the value of this practice for teacher educators.