Senior Researcher 

Areas of Interest

STEM Learning, Robotics, Computer Science, Design, Curricular Integration

TERC Projects

Biographical Summary

Debra Bernstein is a Senior Researcher at TERC. Her research examines curriculum design, implementation, and learning opportunities arising from the integration of technology design activities into K-12 and informal learning settings. One current line of her research examines how integrating robotics design into existing STEM coursework can deepen students’ disciplinary learning and engagement, and support the development of CT practices, while exposing a broader population of students to technology and computing. A second line of work examines the opportunities and barriers for visually impaired students to engage with CS and robotics content. A third, evolving line of research examines robotics in early childhood settings, and seeks to understand what goals/need robotics kits are currently being used to serve in school and community organizations.

Download Curriculum Vitae

Recent Publications & Presentations

  • Bernstein, D., Puttick, G., Cassidy, M., Wendell, K., Danahy, E., & Shaw, F. (April, 2019).  Designing Biomimetic Robots to Support Multidisciplinary Engagement in Middle School.  Forthcoming paper presentation at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Baltimore, MD.
  • Bernstein, D. (April, 2018).  Integrating Robotics Activities in Middle School Disciplinary Classrooms Supports Disciplinary Engagement.  Paper presented at the International Conference of the American Educational Research Association, New York.
  • Ludi, S., Bernstein, D., & Mutch-Jones, K. (2018). Enhanced Robotics! Improving Building and Programming Learning Experiences for Students with Visual Impairments. In Proceedings of the 2018 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '18). ACM, New York, NY, USA
  • Bopardikar, A., Bernstein, D., Drayton, B., & McKenney, S. (2018).  Work-based curriculum to broaden learners’ participation in science:  Insights for Designers.  Research in Science Education.  DOI:
  • Pareja Roblin, N., Schunn, C., Bernstein, D., & McKenney, S. (2018). Exploring shifts in the characteristics of US government-funded science curriculum materials and their (unintended) consequences. Studies in Science Education, 54(1), 1-39.
  • Bernstein, D., Mutch-Jones, K., Cassidy, M., Hamner, E., & Cross, J. (April, 2016).  Robots and Romeo and Juliet:  Studying Teacher Integration of Robotics into Middle School Curricula.  Paper presented at the International Conference of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.
  • Mutch-Jones, K., Bernstein, D., Ludi, S. (2016).  Creating access to computer science: Enhancing engagement and learning for students with visual impairments. Visual Impairment and Deafblind Education Quarterly, 61(4), 38-51.
  • Bernstein, D., Drayton, B., McKenney, S., & Schunn, C. (2016).  Designing science curriculum for implementation at scale:  Considerations for diverse and resource-limited settings. In C. Looi, J. Polman, U. Cress, & P. Reimann (Eds.)  Transforming Learning, Empowering Learners: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2016 (pp. 886-889).  Singapore: International Society of the Learning Sciences.