Jan Armstrong's Home Page


I am a professor in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. I came to UNM in 1990, after completing doctoral work in anthropology of education and educational psychology at the University of Minnesota. As an undergraduate, I majored in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. I am hopelessly academic because I love the world of ideas, books, the arts, and lively conversations about social issues. I am hopeful that the work of people who love ideas (academics, teachers, counselors) can help make the world a better place. When I am not busy with research and teaching, I like to read, work in my garden, and go for long walks. Once in awhile, I get to paddle my kayak (on flat water). While New Mexico's wildlife and landscapes are beautiful, the people of New Mexico are the state's most valuable, and beautiful resource. The fate of one depends on the other. New Mexico is a wonderful place to learn about the relational systems within which educators, counselors and human service professionals live and work.

Research Interests

My research interests and activities focus on the social study of education and human development. I am a qualitative researcher who has studied visual media (children's drawings, youth magazine advertisements, lifenets), often in collaboration with my students. I approach much of my work from the vantage point of contextual human development - an approach that emphasizes the social and cultural nature of human development through the lifespan. I am currently working with colleagues to better understand the nature of wellbeing in schools and communities, and as an aspect of successful aging. Some of my work examines how knowledge is developed and distributed within professional communities. This includes how new media, advanced information technologies and institutional change are transforming the nature of work in higher education and other fields of practice. I am also interested in professional socialization - how different fields (education, medicine, law, and engineering) transmit core competencies (ways of thinking and carrying out specific practices) to novices. Our work in higher education and the professions is influenced by a political economy that influences how we value and reward different kinds of work (performances/ activities and products). Advances in information technologies and changing economic conditions continue to disrupt academic life, and this presents both challenges and opportunities for everyone who cares about preK-20, post-secondary, graduate and professional education.

Selected Publications

Armstrong, J., Tyson, K., LopezLeiva, C. & Pauly, N. (2017). Professing education within and beyond the academy: A theory articulation project. Professing Education, 16 (2), 8–27.

Zieher, A. & Armstrong, J. (2016). Teaching in a public Montessori school: Context, quandaries, and thinking schemes. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies 15 (1), 37 – 54. 10.1080/14779757.2016.1139500

Armstrong, J. & Gonzales, A. (2016). Visual representations of girls and women doing science in a Southwestern high school: An interpretive, normative and critical analysis. Educating Women: Journal of the Society for Educating Women 3 (1), 1-51.

Armstrong, J. and Peele-Eady, T. (2016). An introduction to John Ogbu's Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Engagement In, DeVitis, J. L. (Ed.), American educational classics, 1964 -- 2014 (pp. 333-340). New York: Peter Lang.

Armstrong, J. (2012). Learning communities of surgeons in mid-career transformation. In McKee, A. and Eraut, M. (editors). Learning trajectories, innovation and identity for professional development (pp. 215 – 234) [Wim Gijselaers and LuAnn Wilkerson, series editors, Innovation and Change in Professional Education]. Berlin & New York: Springer.

Armstrong, J. (2012). Faculty animosity: A contextual view. Journal of Thought, 47 (2), 85-103.

deMarrais, K., Armstrong, J., and Preissle, J. (2011). Anthropology and education. In, Steve Tozer, et al (editors), Handbook of Research on Social Foundations of Education. New York: Routledge.

Armstrong, J. (2010). Fostering contextual understanding in the professional education curriculum: The lifenet view. Multicultural Education, 18, 55-59.

Armstrong, J. (2010). Naturalistic inquiry. In N. J. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of research design, Volume 2 (pp. 880 – 885). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Armstrong, J. (2010). The political economy of academic writing practices. Journal of Thought, 45, 55-70. [download pdf]

Professional Communities and Activities

Affiliations with professional societies are part of our professional "lifenets." They are a part of who we are and a means by which to participate in the discourse communities about which we care.

I belong to a number of professional associations, including the American Educational Research Association (AERA) -- Division I - Education in the Professions,
The American Educational Studies Association(AESA),
The American Anthropological Association (AAA)-- Council on Anthropology and Education, and
The Scholarly Consortium for Innovative Psychology in Education (SCIPIE).

I encourage undergraduate and graduate students to join professional associations. Most organizations welcome student members and they usually offer reduced membership rates for students. If you have not already done so, join one or more professional association in your field today!


I teach courses in qualitative research methods, human growth and development, and the psychological development of women and girls.

Remembering Comenius

Created by Jan Armstrong, January 1, 1996. Last update, September 3, 2019.