P. David Pearson is the Evelyn Lois Corey Emeritus (retired in 2017) Chair in Instructional Science in the Graduate 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.
Prior to coming to Berkeley in 2001, he served as the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Education in the College of Education and as Co-Director of the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement at Michigan State. 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, the International Reading Association (IRA now ILA), as a member of the Board of Directors and as the inaugural chair of the Literacy Research Panel) the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) on the Commission on Reading and the Joint Task Force on Assessment, both the National Reading Conference (NRC now LRA) and The National Conference of Research in English (NCRE now NCRLL) as President, and the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education as a member of the Board. He has also provided service to many committees of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Education. He served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Reading for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (2013-2019) and as Chair of the National Assesment Governing Board's Panel to Revise the NAEP Reading Framework (2019-2020).
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 the Edward B. Fry Book Award from NRC. In 2005, he was awarded 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. He was elected to membership in the Reading Hall of Fame (1990), the National Academy of Education (2003), and the Fellows program of AERA (2009). 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 Children's Television Workshop (now the Sesame Workshop), a myriad of school districts and state agencies, and many public and private educational institutions. 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, and Research in Teaching English. 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 240 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.