Janet L. Kolodner is a Regents' Professor in the School of Interactive Computing in Georgia Tech's College of Computing. Her research addresses issues in learning, memory, and problem solving, both in computers and in people. During the 1980's, she pioneered the computer reasoning method called case-based reasoning, a way of solving problems based on analogies to past experiences. Her lab emphasized case-based reasoning for situations of real-world complexity. Her book, Case-Based Reasoning, synthesizes work across the field of case-based reasoning from its inception to 1993. The notion of a case-based design aid (CBDA's), an indexed library of design cases with the kinds of information in them that can help with design decisions, comes from her lab, which was the originator of the first CBDA, Archie-II, in collaboration with colleagues in architecture.
During the late 1980's and early1990's, Kolodner used the cognitive model implied by case-based reasoning to address issues in creative design. JULIA planned meals, Creative JULIA figured out what to do with leftover rice, and ALEC simulated Alexander Graham Bell in his invention of the telephone.
Later in the 1990's, she used CBR's cognitive model to guide design of science curriculum for middle school. Learning by Design™ (LBD™) is the approach to approach to curriculum development and pedagogy based on case-based reasoning's cognitive model and approaches to pedagogy from the cognitive science community. Learning by Design™ is a design-based learning approach and an inquiry-oriented project-based approach to science learning that has children learn science through well-designed design experiences. The sequencing of activities in the classroom encourages students to reflect on their design and science experiences in ways that CBR says are appropriate for integrating them well into memory.
Kolodner is currently the PI of a project integrating LBD's curriculum units and the sequencing structures in LBD with curriculum units and curriculum approaches developed at Northwestern University and University of Michigan. Project-Based Inquiry Science (PBIS), to be published in time for the 2008-2009 academic year by It's About Time, Inc., in Armonk, New York, is a full 3-year middle-school science curriculum. Its sequencing and design integrate much of what the cognitive, meta-cognitive, socio-cognitive, and socio-cultural literatures suggest about promoting learning.
Kolodner’s current research uses what she learned in designing LBD to create informal learning environments to help middle schoolers come to think of themselves as competent scientific reasoners. In Kitchen Science Investigators, 5th and 6th graders learn science in the context of cooking. In Hovering Around, they learn about motion and forces, about air flow, and how to construct scientific explanations in the context of designing hovercraft.
Kolodner was founding Director of Georgia Tech's EduTech Institute, whose mission was to use what we know about cognition to inform the design of educational technology and learning environments. EduTech's major efforts, under her direction, were in the areas of design education and software in support of collaborative learning. She served as coordinator of Georgia Tech's Cognitive Science Program for many years. Professor Kolodner is founding Editor in Chief of The Journal of the Learning Sciences, an interdisciplinary cognitive science journal that focuses on learning and education. JLS's uniqueness lies in its emphasis on publishing araticles that put forth and defend important big ideas and their implementation. She is a founder of the International Society for the Learning Sciences, and she served as its first Executive Officer.