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Eric Toshalis, EdD

Senior Director of Impact


Areas of expertise: research-to-practice translations, equity strategies, adolescent and teacher development

“I’m interested in the edges of personalized, competency-based learning, where discomfort, risk, vulnerability and resistance are often pronounced. That’s where the best questions lie, where the highest growth is concentrated and where the most promising approaches get accelerated. It’s also where the work is most fun!”

As the Senior Director of Impact, Eric Toshalis, EdD, advances the research, impact and improvement efforts that reinforce KnowledgeWorks’ program and policy initiatives and advance the field of personalized, competency-based learning. He assists in the creation of the KnowledgeWorks research agenda, which focuses on impact and improvement of the work we do in schools, districts and communities, as well as research projects that help to advance the field.

Prior to joining KnowledgeWorks, Eric was senior research director at Jobs for the Future (JFF), where he used research and cross-disciplinary partnerships to build the evidence base for student-centered learning. Focusing primarily on projects that translate research findings for educators and school leaders so that both may better understand and apply student-centered learning approaches in their work, his efforts support the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative and the Students at the Center Distinguished Fellows program.

An award-winning public middle and high school teacher and university professor known nationally for his commitment to equity in the education of diverse adolescents and adults, he has served public education in multiple capacities over the past three decades as a mentor teacher, union president, teacher educator, community activist, curriculum writer and researcher.

Eric is the author of Make Me! Understanding and Engaging Student Resistance in School (Harvard Education Press, 2015) and co-author of Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators (Harvard Education Press, 2006). He has made extensive contributions to the literature in secondary-level teaching and learning including articles in The Urban Review, Educational Leadership, Harvard Education Letter, NEA Today and the Journal of Curriculum Studies. Eric was also the lead author of the Motivation, Engagement and Student Voice research report produced as part of the original Students at the Center series.

Eric received his bachelor’s, teaching credential and masters of education from the University of California, Santa Barbara, his masters of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.