Eric Camburn

Eric  Camburn
Sherman Family Foundation Endowed Chair, Director
Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences

Contact Info
247 Education


How I Help Students

Dr. Camburn is the Director of the Urban Education Research Center. He is also a Professor in the Division of Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations.


For three decades, Eric Camburn has conducted research on school improvement, school leadership, and inequalities in educational opportunity. His research has contributed to the field’s understanding of social inequalities in the secondary and postsecondary outcomes of urban students, and of factors that promote and impede the progress of urban students at key junctures. Early research investigated factors associated with social inequalities in high school course failure and access to postsecondary education. These studies suggested that the inequitable outcomes were due in part to inequitable learning opportunities received by poor and minority students in urban schools. A second thread of his research examined factors that promote the improvement of literacy instruction in high poverty urban elementary schools. Camburn and colleagues found that well-designed programs can promote the adoption of evidence-based literacy instruction practices at scale in historically disadvantaged settings, and that job-embedded learning opportunities and a strategic distribution of leadership can facilitate this adoption. Camburn has worked collaboratively with multiple urban districts to help inform improvement initiatives through research evidence. Between 2006 and 2010 Camburn worked closely with the Milwaukee Public Schools to conduct a district wide teacher survey that helped district leaders understand the quality of instruction and improvement initiatives across the district. Prior to coming to Kansas City, Camburn served as a founding Co-Director of the Madison Education Partnership, a partnership between Wisconsin Center for Education Research and the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Research Areas

School improvement; School leadership; Professional learning; Survey measurement of education practice.


Ph.D., Education, University of Chicago
M.A., Social Sciences (interdisciplinary), University of Chicago
B.A., Sociology, Illinois Benedictine College

Advising Interests

School improvement; School leadership; Professional learning; Survey measurement of education practice; Quantitative research; Mixed methods research


(Recent and selected publications)
Phelps, L.A., Camburn, E.M., & Min, S. (2018). High school STEM engineering coursetaking and postsecondary STEM major choice. Journal of Engineering Education

Camburn, E.M., Sebastian, J., & Spillane, J. (2018). Portraits of principal practice: Time allocation and school principal work. Educational Administration Quarterly

Camburn, E.M., & Han, S.W. (2018). Teachers’ professional learning experiences and their engagement in reflective practice: A replication study. School Effectiveness and School Improvement

Camburn, E.M., Han, S.W., & Sebastian, J. (2017). Assessing the validity of an annual survey for measuring the enacted literacy curriculum. Educational Policy. 31(1), 73–107.

Camburn, E.M., Goldring, E., Sebastian, J., May, H., & Huff, J. (2016) An examination of the benefits, limitations, and challenges of conducting randomized experiments with principals. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52(2), 187-220.

Camburn, E.M., & Han, S.W. (2015). Infrastructure for teacher reflection and instructional change: An exploratory study. Journal of Educational Change. 16(4), 511-533.

Camburn, E.M., & Han, S.W. (2011). Two decades of generalizable evidence on U.S. instruction from National surveys. Teachers College Record, 113(3). 561-610.

Barnes, C.A., Camburn, E.M., Sanders, B., & Sebastian, J. (2010). Developing instructional leaders: Using mixed methods to explore the black box of planned change in principals’ professional practice. Educational Administration Quarterly. 46(2), 241-279.

Camburn, E.M., Kimball, S., & Lowenhaupt, R. (2007) Going to scale with teacher leadership: Lessons learned from a districtwide literacy coach initiative. In Melinda Mangin and Sara Stoelinga (eds.). Instructional Teacher Leadership Roles: Using Research to Inform and Reform. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Rowan, B., Camburn, E.M., & Correnti, R. (2008). Using time diaries to study instruction in schools. In Robert Belli, Frank Stafford, Duane Alwin (eds), Calendar and Time Diary Methods in Life Course Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rowan, B., Correnti, R. Miller, R., & Camburn, E.M. (2009). School improvement by design: Lessons from a study of comprehensive school reform programs. In B. Schneider and G. Sykes (Eds.) Handbook of Education Policy Research. Washington D.C.: American Educational Research Association.

Camburn, E., Rowan, B., & Taylor, J. (2003). Distributed leadership in schools: The case of elementary schools adopting comprehensive school reform models. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 25(4), 347-373.

Bryk, A., Camburn, E., & Seashore Louis, K. (1999). Professional community in Chicago elementary schools: Facilitating factors and organizational consequences. Educational Administration Quarterly, 35 (Supplement, December), 751-781.

Roderick, M., & Camburn, E. (1999). Risk and recovery from course failure in the early years of high school. American Educational Research Journal, 36(2), 303-343.

Camburn, E. (1990). College completion among students from high schools located in large metropolitan areas. American Journal of Education, 98(4), 551-569.


(2004-present) The Day Reconstruction Method: A New Tool for Measuring Teachers’ Work, Work Contexts and Affect. Institute of Education Sciences, $1,376,008, 2014-2018. Principal investigator. Co-investigators Nate Jones, Ben Kelcey, Esther Quintero-Corral.

An Evaluation of the Authentic Intellectual Work Initiative in Iowa. Institute of Education Sciences, $3,660,000, 2014-2018. Co-Principal Investigator with Peter Steiner.

School Leadership for Student Achievement: A Survey and Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Leadership in Florida, Institute of Education Sciences, $1,600,000, 2009-2013. Co-Principal Investigator with Doug Harris.

Investigating Teacher Development from a Situative Perspective, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, $24,823, Principal Investigator. 2008-2009

Assessing the Impact of Principals’ Professional Development: An Evaluation of the National Institute for School Leadership, Institute of Education Sciences, $3,080,214, 2004-2008. Co-investigators Carol Barnes, Ellen Goldring, Jim Spillane, Jon Supovitz.

Instructional Improvement Through Comprehensive School Reform: Investigations From the study of Instructional Improvement. Atlantic Philanthropies, Principal Investigator. $214,866, 2004-2007.