Florence R Sullivan Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Florence R Sullivan

Associate Professor
University of Massachusetts

Florence R. Sullivan is on the faculty at the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research focuses on student collaborative learning, creativity, and computational thinking in robotics and Scratch learning environments; and on issues of gender equity in computer science education at the middle school level. She is also working towards the development of computational methods for supporting microgenetic analysis of small group collaborative learning discussions.


Florence R Sullivan is an associate professor of Learning Technology in the College of Education at UMass, Amherst. Her research interests include middle school student’s collaborative learning with constructionist-based, computational media including LEGO robotics and Scratch. Past work in this area has focused on aspects of computational thinking including problem solving (Sullivan & Lin, 2012), collaborative creativity (Sullivan, 2011), and systems thinking (Sullivan, 2008).  Prof. Sullivan, is especially interested in the role of gender in girls’ experiences in these learning situations. Recent work in this area has examined the role of internalized stereotypes on girls’ attributions of failure in robotics (Sullivan, Keith, & Poza, 2016); the role of playful talk in regulating the work of a mixed gender collaborative group (Sullivan & Wilson, 2015), and the presence and affect of power dynamics in seemingly more equitable learning situations (Sullivan, Keith, & Wilson, 2015). A second strand of Prof. Sullivan’s work revolves around the development of computational means to support microgenetic analysis of problem-solving discussions in robotics learning environments. Prof. Sullivan has received support from the National Science Foundation to develop these computational methods. Her project Microgenetic Learning Analytics (MLA) draws on work in natural language processing, sociocultural learning theory, and learning analytics to conceptualize and develop these computational approaches.  


    PhD, Teachers College, Columbia University, NYC, 2005
    MPhil, Teachers College, Columbia University, NYC, 2004
    BA, New College of California, San Francisco, CA 1995

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Collaborative Learning with Computational Media
    Collaborative Creativity
    Issues of Gender Equity in STEM
    Online Learning and Communication
    Computational Thinking
    Microgenetic Learning Analyticcs

Personal Interests

    Playing guitar, songwriting, tennis, outdoor activities, film, travel.


Featured Title
 Featured Title - Creativity, Technology, and Learning *Sullivan* - 1st Edition book cover


Journal of Research in Technology Education

Robotics Construction Kits as Computational Manipulatives for Learning

Published: Mar 05, 2017 by Journal of Research in Technology Education
Authors: Florence R. Sullivan and John Heffernan
Subjects: Education

This article presents a systematic review of research related to the use of robotics construction kits (RCKs) in P–12 learning in the STEM disciplines for typically developing children. The purpose of this review is to configure primarily qualitative and mixed methods findings from studies meeting our selection and quality criterion to answer the review question: How do robotic construction kits function as computational manipulatives in P–12 STEM education?

Journal of the Learning Sciences

Playful Talk: Negotiating Opportunities to Learn in Collaborative Groups

Published: Dec 16, 2013 by Journal of the Learning Sciences
Authors: Florence R. Sullivan and Nicholas C. Wilon
Subjects: Education

This case study examines the role of playful talk in negotiating the “how” of collaborative group work in a 6th-grade science classroom. Here we develop and test a Vygotsky-derived hypothesis that postulates playful talk as a mechanism for identity exploration and group status negotiation.

Educational Technology and Society

Serious and Playful Inquiry: Epistemological Aspects of Collaborative Creativity

Published: Oct 01, 2011 by Educational Technology and Society
Authors: Florence R. Sullivan
Subjects: Education

This paper presents the results of a micro-genetic analysis of the development of a creative solution arrived at by students working collaboratively to solve a robotics problem in a sixth-grade science classroom. Results indicate that four aspects of the enacted curriculum proved important to developing the creative solutions.