David J. Shernoff

Picture of David Shernoff
Director, CMSCE
Contact Info
B.S. (1989), Human Development and Family Studies, Cornell University
Ed.M. (1991), Human Development and Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Ph.D. (2001), Education, University of Chicago
Postdoctoral Fellow (2001-2003), Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Shernoff is an educational psychologist who conducts applied research in schools, after-school settings, technology-supported environments, and other learning environments. He is interested in educational and other holding environments supportive of positive development. Specific areas of research relate primarily to the motivation and engagement of youth, engagement and learning in game-based, digital learning environments, and mentoring in early career development. He has served as Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on over 12 research projects on community engagement, student engagement, or teacher professional development. His research has yielded 5 authored or edited books, and over 35 other publications. He serves on several editorial boards and as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation. He served as chair and program chair of the Out-of-School Time Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).


Student engagement; optimal learning environments; teacher professional development; flow theory; experience sampling methodology; educational video games; STEM learning; out-of-school time and informal learning environments; mentoring; multi-level or hierarchical linear models (HLM).


McDonnell, J., Staffenova, M., Ripberger, C., Shernoff, D. J., Kuniski, M. Bressler, D., & Bean, C. (2019). Promoting STEM interest and identity through the 4-H STEM Ambassadors Program. Connected Science Learning: A publication of NSTA and ASTC, issue 9 (January), http://csl.nsta.org/2019/01/4-h-stem-ambassadors-program/

Pino-James, N., Shernoff, D. J., Bressler, D. M., Larson, S. C. & Sinha, S., (2019). Instructional interventions that support student engagement: An international perspective. In J. A. Fredricks, A. L. Rechley, and S. L. Christenson (Eds.), Handbook of Student Engagement Interventions: Working with Disengaged Youth (pp. 103-119). Mahwah, NJ: Elsevier.

Strati, A. D., Shernoff, D. J., & Kackar, H. Z. (2018). Flow. In R. Levesque (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Adolescence, 2nd Edition. New York: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-32132-5_173-2.

Shernoff, D. J., Sinha, S., Bressler, D. M., & Ginsburg, L. (2017). Assessing teacher education and professional development needs for the implementation of integrated approaches to STEM Education. International Journal of STEM Education, 4, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40594-017-0068-1 

Shernoff, D. J., Sinha, S., Bressler, D. M., & Schultz, D. (2017). Teacher perceptions of their curricular and pedagogical shifts: Outcomes of a project-based model of teacher professional development in the Next Generation Science Standards. Frontiers in Psychology, 1-16. doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00989

Shernoff, D. J., Ruzek, E. A.. Sannella, A. J., Schorr, R., Sanchez-Leal, L., & Bressler, D. M. (2017). Student engagement as a general factor of classroom experience: Associations with classroom practices and educational outcomes in a university gateway course. Frontiers in Psychology, 1-22. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00994

Shernoff, D. J., & Da Silva, R. (2017). Motivation in out-of-school learning. In K. Peppler (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Out-of-School Learning (pp. 501-505). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Shernoff, D.J., Ruzek, E.A., Sinha, S. (2017). The influence of the high school classroom environment on learning as mediated by student engagement. School Psychology International, 1-18. DOI: 10.1177/0143034316666413.

Shernoff, D.J., Kelly, S., Tonks, S., Anderson, B., Cavanagh, R., Sinha, S., Abdi, B. (2016). Student engagement as a function of environmental complexity in high school classrooms. Learning and Instruction. DOI: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2015.12.003.

Hamari, J., Shernoff, D. J., Rowe, E., Coller, B., Asbell-Clarke, J., & Edwards, T. (2016). Challenging games help students learn: An empirical study on engagement, flow and immersion in game-based learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 170 - 179.

Luo, W., Pelletier, J., Duffin, K., Ormand, C., Hung, W., Shernoff, D. J., Zhai, X., Iverson, E., Whalley, K., Gallaher, C., and Furness, W (2016). Advantages of simulation models in enhancing students’ learning about landform evolution: A case study using the Grand Canyon. Journal of Geoscience Education, 64. DOI: 10.5408/15-080.1.

Shernoff, D. J., Tonks, S. M., & Anderson, B. (2014). The impact of the learning environment on student engagement in high school classrooms. In D. J. Shernoff & J. Bempechat (Eds.), Engaging Youth in Schools: Evidence-Based Models to Guide Future Innovations (pp. 166-177). New York: NSSE Yearbook, National Society for the Study of Education, Volume 113, Issue 1, by Teachers College, Columbia University.

Larson, R. W., & Shernoff, D. J., & Bempechat, J. (2014). Epilogue: A New Paradigm for the Science and Practice of Engaging Young People. In D. J. Shernoff & J. Bempechat (Eds.), Engaging Youth in Schools: Evidence-Based Models to Guide Future Innovations (pp. 323-337). New York:  NSSE Yearbook, National Society for the Study of Education, Volume 113, Issue 1, by Teachers College, Columbia University.

Cavanagh, R. F., and Shernoff, D. J. (2014). Positive change and scholastic education. In P.Inghilleri, G. Riva, E. Riva (Eds.), Enabling Positive Change: Flow and Complexity in Daily Experience (pp. 123-137). Warsaw, Poland: De Gruyter Open.

Shernoff, D. J., Abdi, B., Anderson, B., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Flow in schools revisited: Cultivating engaged learners and optimal learning environments. In M. Furlong, R. Gilman, & S. Heubner, & (Eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychology in the Schools, 2nd Edition (pp. 211-226). New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Shernoff, D. J. & Anderson, B. (2014). Interventions to create engagement and flow: Research and practice on optimal learning environments. In Acacia Parks (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Positive Psychological Interventions (pp. 194-212). New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Shernoff, D. J., & Anderson, B. (2013). Flow and optimal learning environments. In J. Froh and A. Parks-Sheiner (Eds.), Activities for Teaching Positive Psychology: A guide for instructors (pp. 109-115). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Shernoff, D. J. (2012). Engagement and positive youth development: Creating optimal learning environments. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan (Eds.), The APA Educational Psychology Handbook (Vol. 3, pp. 195-220). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bempechat, J., & Shernoff, D. J. (2012). Parental influences on achievement motivation and student engagement. In S. L. Christenson, A. L. Reschly, & C. Wylie (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Student Engagement (pp. 315 – 342). New York: Springer Science.

Coller, B.D., Shernoff, D. J., & Strati, A. D. (2011). Measuring engagement as students learn Dynamic Systems & Control with a video game.Advances in Engineering Education, 2, 1-32.

Shernoff, D. J. (2010). Engagement in after-school programs as a predictor of social competence and academic performance. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 325-337.

Coller, B. D., & Shernoff, D. J. (2009). Video game-based education in mechanical engineering: A look at student engagement. International Journal of Engineering Education, 25308-317.

Shernoff, D. J., & Schmidt, J. A. (2008). Further evidence of an engagement-achievement paradox among U.S. high school students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 564-580.

Shernoff, D. J., & Vandell, D. L. (2008). Youth engagement and quality of experience in afterschool programs. Afterschool Matters, 9, 1-14.

Shernoff, D. J., & Vandell, D. L. (2007). Engagement in after-school program activities: Quality of experience from the perspective of participants.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 891-903.

Shernoff, D. J. (2007). A matter of formative career influence: The works of mentors. Thresholds in Education, 33, 40-44.

Schmidt, J. A., Shernoff, D. J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2007). Individual and situational factors related to the experience of flow in adolescence: A multilevel approach. In A.D. Ong & M. van Dulmen (Eds.), The Handbook of Methods in Positive Psychology (pp. 542 – 558)Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Vandell, D. L., Shernoff, D. J., Pierce, K. M., Bolt, D. M., Dadisman, K., & Brown, B. B. (2005). Activities, engagement, and emotion at after-school programs (and elsewhere). New Directions for Youth Development, 105, 121-129.

Shernoff, D. J., Csikszentmihalyi, M., Schneider, B., & Shernoff, E. S. (2003). Student engagement in high school classrooms from the perspective of flow theory. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 158-76.

Shernoff, D. J., & Hoogstra, L. (2001). Continuing motivation beyond the high school classroom. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 93, 73-87.

Shernoff, D.J. & Bempechat, J. (Eds.) (2014). Engaging youth in schools: Evidence-based models to guide future innovations. New York: NSSE Yearbook, National Society for the Study of Education, Volume 113, Issue 1, by Teachers College, Columbia University.

Shernoff, D.J. (2013). Optimal learning environments to promote student engagement. New York: Springer.

Shernoff, D. J. (2012/2001). The Individual-Maker: A master teacher and his transformational curriculum. Palm Desert, CA: William & Sons.

Shernoff, D.J. (2010). The experience of student engagement in high school classrooms: Influences and effects on long-term outcomes. Saarbrucken, Germany: Lambert Academic Publishing.

Nakamura, J., & Shernoff, D.J. (2009). Good mentoring: Fostering excellent practice in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.