Dr. Avi Kaplan’s research interests focus on people's motivation and identity development, with particular interest in the role of the environment in these processes. His recent research involves the application of the complex dynamic systems approach to identity and motivation, and employing collaborative design-based interventions that focus on diverse people's motivation, identity exploration, learning, and decision-making. Together with Dr. Joanna K. Garner, Avi developed the Dynamic Systems Model of Role Identity (DSMRI), which is a complex dynamic systems model of identity, motivation, emotion, and learning. Avi's current projects use the DSMRI in the design of a museum exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History that promotes visitors' identity exploration of their inventiveness in life, social studies' teachers' identity change and motivation to facilitate student-led discussions, engineering students' transfer of design-thinking from courses to their capstone project, medical students' development of professional identity and medical leadership, and community leaders' value-based decision-making in situations of uncertainty. Avi's recent publications include a 2019 chapter in Advances in Motivation and Achievement on identity and motivation in the 21st century, a 2021 chapter in the Cambridge Handbook on Identity on conceptions of identity in educational psychological research, and a 2023 chapter in Motivation Science on the application of the complex dynamic systems perspective in motivation theory and research. Avi served as President of the Division of Educational Psychology (Division 15) of the American Psychological Association. He is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, the Association of Psychological Science, Division 15 of the American Psychological Association, and the Eastern Psychological Association. He is the former editor of the Journal of Experimental Education, and serves on the editorial boards of the Educational Psychologist, the Journal of Educational Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Education, and the International Journal of Complexity in Education.

Research Interests

  • Motivation
  • Identity
  • Learning Environments

Courses Taught




EPSY 5561

Development and Learning Over the Lifespan


Selected Publications

  • Bembenutty, H., Liem, G.A.D., Allen, K., King, R.B., Martin, A.J., Marsh, H.W., Craven, R.G., Kaplan, A., Schunk, D.H., DiBenedetto, M.K., & Datu, J.A.D. (2023). Culture, Motivation, Self-Regulation, and the Impactful Work of Dennis M. McInerney. Educ Psychol Rev, 35(1), p. 28. United States. doi: 10.1007/s10648-023-09743-3

  • Bergey, B.W., Cromley, J.G., Kaplan, A., & Bloxton, J.D. (2021). Do Students' Questions during Chemistry Lectures Predict Perceived Comprehension and Exam Performance? JOURNAL of EXPERIMENTAL EDUCATION. doi: 10.1080/00220973.2021.2021843

  • Garner, J.K. & Kaplan, A. (2021). A complex dynamic systems approach to the design and evaluation of teacher professional development. Professional Development in Education, 47(2-3), pp. 289-314. doi: 10.1080/19415257.2021.1879231

  • Carver, A., Garner, J.K., Kaplan, A., & Pugh, K.J. (2021). Visitors’ attendance motivation and meaning making at a public science event. International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement, 11(1), pp. 75-89. doi: 10.1080/21548455.2021.1874620

  • Mara, K.R., Kaplan, A., Balsai, M.J., Cromley, J.G., Perez, T., & Dai, T. (2021). How Instructors Can Enhance Biology Students' Motivation, Learning, and Grades through Brief Relevance Writing and Worked-Example Interventions. J Microbiol Biol Educ, 22(2). United States. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.00110-21

  • Hathcock, S.J., Garner, J.K., & Kaplan, A. (2020). Examining micro-change within and among science teachers' identities: A multiple case study. Science Education, 104(5), pp. 827-856. doi: 10.1002/sce.21577

  • Kaplan, A. & Garner, J.K. (2020). Steps for Applying the Complex Dynamical Systems Approach in Educational Research: A Guide for the Perplexed Scholar. Journal of Experimental Education, 88(3), pp. 486-502. doi: 10.1080/00220973.2020.1745738

  • Kaplan, A., Cromley, J., Perez, T., Dai, T., Mara, K., & Balsai, M. (2020). The Role of Context in Educational RCT Findings: A Call to Redefine “Evidence-Based Practice”. Educational Researcher, 49(4), pp. 285-288. doi: 10.3102/0013189X20921862

  • Urdan, T. & Kaplan, A. (2020). The origins, evolution, and future directions of achievement goal theory. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 61. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2020.101862

  • Garner, J.K., Kaplan, A., Hathcock, S., & Bergey, B. (2020). Concept Mapping as a Mechanism for Assessing Science Teachers’ Cross-Disciplinary Field-Based Learning. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 31(1), pp. 8-33. doi: 10.1080/1046560X.2019.1625573

  • Bergey, B.W., Ranellucci, J., & Kaplan, A. (2019). The conceptualization of costs and barriers of a teaching career among Latino preservice teachers. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 59. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2019.101794

  • Kaplan, A., Neuber, A., & Garner, J.K. (2019). An identity systems perspective on high ability in self-regulated learning. High Ability Studies, 30(1-2), pp. 53-78. doi: 10.1080/13598139.2019.1568830

  • Perez, T., Dai, T., Kaplan, A., Cromley, J.G., Brooks, W.D., White, A.C., Mara, K.R., & Balsai, M.J. (2019). Interrelations among expectancies, task values, and perceived costs in undergraduate biology achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 72, pp. 26-38. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2019.04.001

  • Garner, J.K. & Kaplan, A. (2019). A complex dynamic systems perspective on teacher learning and identity formation: an instrumental case. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 25(1), pp. 7-33. doi: 10.1080/13540602.2018.1533811

  • Kaplan, A., Garner, J.K., & Brock, B. (2019). Identity and motivation in a changing world: A complex dynamic systems perspective. In Advances in Motivation and Achievement, 20 (pp. 101-127). doi: 10.1108/S0749-742320190000020006