P. David Pearson

P. David Pearson is an emeritus faculty member in the School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as Dean from 2001-2010. His current research focuses on literacy history and policy. He also holds an appointment as a Professor of the Graduate School and is the Evelyn Lois Corey Emeritus Chair in Instructional Science.

Prior to coming to Berkeley in 2001, he served as the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Education in the College of Education at Michigan State and as Co-Director of the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement. Even earlier, he was Dean of the College of Education, Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Reading, and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois.  His initial professorial appointment was at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis from 1969-1978.

He has been active in professional organizations, serving the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in many capacities (including the IRA Board of Directors), both the National Reading Conference (NRC) and The National Conference of Research in English as President, and the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education as a member of the Board.  He currently serves as the Chair of IRA’s Literacy Research Panel.

Awards include the 1989 Oscar Causey Award for outstanding contributions to reading research from the NRC and the 1990 William S.Gray Citation of Merit. for his contributions to theory, research, and practice from the IRA. In 2004, he received the Alan Purves Award from NCTE for the Research in Teaching English article most likely to influence practice, and in 2005, the Albert J. Harris Award from IRA for scholarship on reading difficulties.  In 2006, the University of Minnesota honored him with the Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award, the highest non-academic award given at the University, for his contributions to educational research and practice. In 2010, he received the AERA Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award.  In 2003, he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (NAE) and in 2009 to membership as a Fellow of the AERA.  In 2012, the Literacy Research Association (formerly the NRC) created the P. David Pearson Scholarly Influence Award to honor scholarship that impacts literacy practice. 

He has served as an advisor to the National Academy of Science, the Children's Television Workshop (now the Sesame Workshop), a myriad of school districts and state agencies, and many educational public and private educational enterprises.  He has been a reading program author for several publishers, including Ginn & Co. (Ginn Reading Program), Silver Burdett & Ginn (World of Reading and Literature Works), National Geographic (Reading/Writing Workshop), and Pearson Scott-Foresman (Reading Street).

He has written and co-edited several books about research and practice, most notably the Handbook of Reading Research, now in its fourth volume. He has served on the boards of many educational research journals e.g., Reading Research Quarterly, Science, Journal of Literacy Research, Review of Educational Research, Journal of Educational Psychology, Cognition and Instruction, Research in Teaching English, and Review of Educational Research.  He has served multiple terms as editor of 3 major research publications-Reading Research Quarterly, NRC Yearbook, and Review of Research in Education. His 300+ books, articles and chapters, written with over 200 co-authors, appear in a range of outlets for a wide range of audiences—teachers, scholars, and policy makers.

He is currently working on several projects related to the history of literacy and to literacy policy and practice.

Professor Pearson received his B.A. in History from the University of California Berkeley, after which he taught elementary school in California and went on to complete his Ph.D. in Reading Education at the University of Minnesota.  He completed post-doctoral study at the University of Texas, Austin and Stanford University. 



Pearson, P.D. (Eds.) (1977). Reading: Research, theory and practice. Clemson, SC: National Reading Conference.
Beach, R., & Pearson, P.D. (Ed.) (1978). Perspectives on literacy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.
Johnson, D.D., & Pearson, P.D. (1978). Teaching reading vocabulary. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Pearson, P.D., & Hansen, J. (Eds.) (1978). Reading: Disciplined inquiry in process and practice. Clemson SC: National Reading Conference.
Pearson, P.D., & Johnson, D.D. (1978). Teaching reading comprehension. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Pearson, P.D., Barr, R., Kamil, M.L., & Mosenthal, P. (Eds.) (1984). Handbook of reading research. New York: Longman, Inc.
Johnson, D.D., & Pearson, P.D. (1984). Teaching reading vocabulary (2nd Edition). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Samuels, S. J. & Pearson, P. D. (Eds.) (1988). Changing school reading programs: Principles and case studies. Newark DE: International Reading Association.
Taylor, B., Harris, L., & Pearson, P. D. (1988). Reading difficulties: Instruction and assessment. New York: Random House.
Barr, R., Kamil, M.L., Mosenthal, P., & Pearson, P.D. (Eds.) (1991). Handbook of reading research (Vol. 2). New York: Longman, Inc.
Taylor, B., Harris, L., Pearson, P.D., & García, G.E. (1995). Reading difficulties: Instruction and assessment (2nd Edition). New York: Random House.
Kamil, M., Mosenthal, P., Pearson, P.D., & Barr, R. (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of reading research (Vol. 3). Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 
Taylor, B.M., & Pearson, P.D. (Eds.) (2002). Teaching reading: Effective schools, accomplished teachers. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 
Darling-Hammond, L., Barron, B., Pearson, P.D. & Schoenfeld, A.S., Stage, E., Zimmerman, T.D., Cervetti, G.N., & Tilson, J.L. (2008). Powerful learning: What we know about teaching for understanding. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Kamil, M., Pearson, P.D.,Moje, E., & Afflerbach, P. (Eds.) (2011). Handbook of reading research (Vol. 4). London: Routledge 
Articles (Refereed Journals, Proceeding)

Presentations/Professional Experience

This is a webinar, conducted for the non-profiit, TextProject.org, in which Pearson addresses the issue of the Research Base of the Common Core State Standards.

In this videotaped lecture given at Vanderbilt University, Pearson talks about the impact of research on educational practice.

This is another webinar on the Research Base of the Common Core State Standards, conducted for the Bay Area not for profit organization, Developmental Studies Center.  

In this extended video recording for the annual literacy conference of the University of Wyoming, Pearson discusses Rich Talk about Text.  

  • Macy's Inc., San FranciscoSystems Analyst1963-1964
  • Porterville, California School, Classroom Teacher1964-1966
  • University of Texas, Austin, Post-Doctoral Fellow1969-1970
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Assistant-Full Professor1969-1979
  • University of Illinois, Professor 1978-1995
  • University of Illinois, Co-Director, Center for the Study of Reading 1985-1989
  • University of Illinois, Dean 1989-1995
  • Michigan State University, John A. Hannah Professor 1995-2001
  • Michigan State University, Co-Director, (CIERA) 1997-2001
  • University of California, Berkeley, Professor and Dean 2001-2010
  • University of California, Berkeley, Professor, 2010-present

Interests and Professional Affiliations

Assessment and Educational Measurement

Educational Equity



Poverty and Children

Reading Development

Writing and Literature

Professional Organizations Service


  • National Academy of Education
  • International Reading Association
  • American Educational Research Association
  • National Conference on Research in English
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Minnesota Reading Association
  • Twin Cities Reading Council
  • Illini Reading Council
  • Illinois Reading Association
  • California Reading Association
  • National Reading Conference
  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • Michigan Reading Association


1963 BA, History, UC Berkeley

1969 Ph.D., Education, University of Minnesota


Office #4220

School of Education
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UC Berkeley
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