Leader Info

Dr. Daniel R. Zalles, a former high school teacher, teacher educator, and curriculum developer, is a Senior Educational Researcher at SRI International’s Center for Technology and Learning. As a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on various NSF and NASA-funded research projects, Zalles researches how technology can be used to prompt students to reason scientifically when carrying out inquiry tasks with real geospatial data and how assessments can be designed that best capture the consequent learning outcomes. In recent projects, Dr. Zalles has turned to researching ways to build the capacities of middle school, high school and community college teachers to implement local place-based geospatial data-centered inquiry tasks into their curricula (DICCE and STORE). He offers to these teachers geographical information system technology applications and data sets with built-in supports for teacher capacity building, plus a curriculum authoring tool, curriculum exemplars, and assessment instruments that the teachers can use as is or adapt. To get students to better understand and appreciate the challenges of environmental sustainability, Dr. Zalles facilitates the study of Earth system phenomena in a manner that crosses traditional subject matter disciplines and shows how the phenomena are related. In addition, he has created curriculum exemplars for teaching about these topics via integration with social science information (DICCE) and Native American traditional ecological knowledge (DIGERS). Environmental sustainability topics he has concentrated on include climate change, geomorphology, and ecosystem biology.

Dr. Zalles has also led evaluations of technology-based educational innovations, such as applications of data literacy tools InspireData™ and Kids Survey Network in formal and informal learning settings, enhancements to science curricula that follow principles of universal design for learning, uses of video cases for showcasing student reasoning on math problem-solving tasks, and uses of geospatially-situated demographic data for improving social science instruction.

Zalles was instrumental in the development of NSF’s Online Evaluation Resource Library, authoring professional development modules on evaluation methodology topics such as methodological approach and sampling, writing questionnaires, and instrument triangulation and adaptation.

Dr Zalles's past and present projects as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator include:


  • Studying Topography, Orographic Rainfall, and Ecosystems with Geospatial Information Technology (STORE) (NSF DRL-1019645), a project devoted to building a technology-based geospatial data resource for visualizing temperature, precipitation, topography, and vegetation over parts of California and New York State against climate change models and working with middle school, high school, and community college teachers to develop data-centered curricula adapted to their diverse students' needs. (NSF DRL 1019645) (http://store.sri.com/)
  • Data-enhanced Investigations for Climate Change Education (NASA GCCE NNX10AT54A), a project creating a teacher and student pathway into use of NASA satellite mission data and data assimilation models to compare and contrast local climate change trends and global trends. (http://dicce-le.sri.com)


  • Collaborative Research: Data-driven Inquiry in Geoscience Environmental Restoration Studies (NSF GEO-0808076), a project with University of Washington (UW) that developed and implemented curriculum units and assessment exemplars for high school and undergraduate courses about historical changes to watersheds, using datasets collected and made available through UW's River History Project, with a strong emphasis on engaging more American Indian undergraduate and high school students in the course material by integrating the science with traditional ecological knowledge, the history of Indian treaty relations with European-American settlers, and resultant impacts on the environment. (http://digers.sri.com/)
  • Data Sets and Inquiry in Geoscience Education (NSF 0507828), a project that developed place-based curriculum units and assessments of high school students’ skills in understanding about Earth system inquiry with real place-based datasets about climate and plate tectonics. (http://digs.sri.com/)
  • Thinking with Data (NSF 0337384), a project that developed and implemented an integrated math, science, and social studies middle school curriculum around the theme of freshwater availability. (http://digs.sri.com/)

Dr. Zalles's past and present projects as evaluator include:


  • Collaborative Research: R&D: Cyber-Enabled Design Research to Enhance Teachers' Critical Thinking Using a Major Video Collection on Children's Mathematical Reasoning (NSF DRL 0822204), a project for using video cases of childrens' mathematical reasoning in teacher in-service and pre-service programs.
  • Creating and Disseminating Tools to Teach with Demographic Data Maps and Materials, a project using the web geospatial map application tool Social Explorer for the teaching of undergraduate social science classes through the creation of maps that use census and other data to quantitatively illustrate various social patterns and demographic changes. (NSF DUE 0919993)


  • Universal Design of Inquiry-Based Science Curriculum, a DRK12 NSF-funded project that incorporated principles of universal design into NSF-funded foundational science curricula. (NSF DRL 0730260)
  • The Universally Designed Science Notebook: An Intervention to Support Science Learning for Students with Disabilities (DOE CFDA 84.324 A). This project implemented across schools in a large urban district use of a UDL-designed science notebook integrated in U.C. Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science's Full-Option System Science curriculum.
  • Kids' Survey Network, a project that developed and piloted to afterschool programs a collaborative online learning environment around survey research. (NSF ISE 0741601)
  • Foundational Tools for Data Literacy (NSF DRL 0242626), a project to improve middle school students’ data literacy through use of the computer-based data analysis tool InspireData™ (formerly Tabletop).

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Dr Daniel R. Zalles (Principal Investigator)
Center for Technology and Learning
SRI International
333 Ravenswood Avenue
Menlo Park, CA