Dr. Iris Tabak is chair of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction in the Education department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She was the president of the International Society of the Learning Sciences (2008-2010), co-editor of the Journal of the Learning Sciences (2013-2017, with Radinsky), and is a life-long fellow of the International Society of the Learning Sciences.
Tabak holds a B.S.E. in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan, a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University, and was a NIMH postdoctoral fellow at UCLA.
Tabak studies mediated cognition. Her work straddles the fields of learning sciences, computer science, education and psychology. She developed the theoretical conceptualization of synergistic scaffolding, which articulates how human, material and computational agents interact to support learning. In her research, she draws on cognitive and sociocultural theory. Focusing on domain-specificity and power relationships, her research examines how mental, material and discursive representations combine to construct knowledge and identity. Her work on the Teacher as Partner approach examines how science education can foster both mastery and appropriation: the knowledge and skills needed to engage in science, as well as the sense-of-self as able and entitled to do so. She developed The Galapagos Finches, a learning technology that represents tacit and overt expert knowledge as interface objects, enabling novices to conduct sophisticated investigations in evolutionary biology. In the area of medical education, she has examined expert-novice differences in the use of evidence-based medicine.
Her current research focuses on the interplay between formal learning in K-12 and higher education and informal learning in everyday contexts. Specifically, she investigates how learners can adopt the disciplinary stance of different fields through epistemic socialization processes; how higher education can foster a disciplinary stance while also cultivating the multiliteracies of citizenship in the information society; and how non-scientists can make evidence-based health decisions in their everyday lives.
Dr. Tabak received fellowships for the advancement of education from the Mandel Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Rashi Foundation, as well as awards from NARST and AERA. Recently, she was a partner in large scale networks through the EC's FP7 CoReflect project on Digital Support for Inquiry, Collaboration, and Reflection on Socio-Scientific Debates (www.coreflect.org), and through the Israeli Centers of Research Excellence (ICORE) center on Learning in a Networked Society (http://www.links.org.il/).