Home > About > Staff

Dr. Karen Cole, Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Cole is an award-winning educational psychologist and author. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Stanford University in 1995. Prior to founding Big Learning, Dr. Cole worked for over twenty years in educational research and development, specializing in real-world learning, math education, and educational technology. She was a Senior Research Associate at WestEd in San Francisco, where she was the project director and principal investigator for WestEd's subcontract for the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project, funded by the Department of Education. While there, she co-authored the book, Increasing Student Learning through Multimedia Projects, published in 2002 by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Prior to WestEd, she was a Research Scientist at the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL), in Menlo Park, CA. She was the Assessment Coordinator for the Middle School Mathematics through Applications Project (MMAP), an applications-based mathematics curriculum project funded by the National Science Foundation, and was the co-developer of the CD-ROM, A Video Exploration of Classroom Assessment. She also consulted with schools on curriculum and assessment reform.

Prior to IRL, she was an Instructional Designer at Computer Curriculum Corporation in Sunnyvale, CA, where she researched, designed, implemented, and tested educational courseware, and consulted on projects as an expert in instructional design for educational software. Prior to that, she was an Instructional Designer at Hewlett Packard.

Dr. Cole has written for a variety of publications for educators and presented at national education conferences.

Jean Carlson, Teacher
Over the years of tutoring children in reading and math, Jean has developed a love of teaching. She has led many classes in her own children's classrooms and is very excited to be a member of the teaching staff at Big Learning.

Alison Pearce, Researcher & Teacher
Alison received her PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University. She has taught children and adults in a variety of settings including universities, elementary schools, nature centers, and rural workshops.

Sophie Yarborough, Editor
Sophie Yarborough is a lifelong journalist who has worked as an editor and reporter at such daily newspapers as the Miami Herald and the Boca Raton News in Florida and the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Glendale News-Press in California. She now lives in Garrett Park, MD, where she works as an editor for Big Learning and as a freelancer for other publications.

Amy Kost, Grant Researcher