Tanner LeBaron Wallace, Associate Professor


(412) 624-6356 twallace@pitt.edu


Dr. Tanner Wallace is an associate professor of Applied Developmental Psychology in the Psychology in Education Department of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education. A graduate of the University of Virginia with a dual major in English Literature and Asian Studies, Tanner’s professional career began as a public school teacher in rural Mississippi as an AmeriCorps Teach for America (’99) corps member. This early career experience of witnessing educational inequities firsthand has profoundly shaped Tanner’s professional orientation and provides an on-going foundation for her research agenda. Tanner studied Adolescent Risk & Prevention at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2013, Tanner was awarded an Early Career Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Research Grant by the National Academy of Education funded by the William T. Grant Foundation and the Spencer Foundation. Her research has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Urban Education. In her spare time, Dr. Wallace enjoys practicing Bikram yoga.

Dr. Tanner Wallace considers herself first and foremost an ‘educationist’ so heading the Motivation Center is right up her alley. She says, “Having a collective of researchers with different disciplinary training all focused on the topic of motivation will greatly enrich the conceptual and empirical perspectives my research.” Much of Dr. Wallace’s research focuses on adolescent meaning-making and tries to understand how adolescents interpret instructional interactions experienced in the classroom. A major part of her educational research philosophy is to keep student voices at the center of the work that she and the center carry out. She states that she wants the theories of effective teaching that the research develops to always remain “responsive to the lived realities of life in school.” Dr. Wallace’s extensive training in quantitative modeling and qualitative methods at a graduate school that valued social justice and equity gives her the unique ability to keep the center’s work connected to the promotion of educational equity. She explains, “I think this training will help me promote innovative mixed methods research and build productive connections with urban education scholars.” Currently, Dr. Wallace is working on several research studies focused on adolescent perceptions of autonomy during instructional interactions. Autonomy support may involve providing choice, promoting independent thinking, and demonstrating flexibility, all of which research indicates leads to adolescent success. Dr. Wallace clarifies, “We are prioritizing adolescents’ views by employing an open-ended discussion protocol that permits us to generate a data record comprising adolescent making meaning of the significance of and differences between types of autonomy support provided by teacher during instruction.” One of the goals of the studies is to refine previously identified autonomy support constructs in this area of research. As for the goal of the center, Dr. Wallace believes strongly in the power of the multiple perspectives that the center comprises. She states, “I hope the center will engage in the critical work of integration across disparate theoretical frameworks to understand the active ingredients, or mechanisms of change, triggered by effective motivational interventions.”

Grants & Awards

Innovating Motivation Research; May 2014 – Apr 2016

African American Student’s Opportunities to Learn; May 2014 – Apr 2015 

Measures of Effective Teaching Early Career Grant; Mar 1 2013- Mar 1 2014



  • PhD in Education, University of California, Los Angeles

Selected Publications

Horner, C. G.,* Wallace, T. L., & Bundick, M. J. (2015). Adolescents' interpretations of the role of emotion in high school. Teachers College Record.
Williams, J. D.* Wallace, T. L., & Sung, H. C.,* (2015). Providing choice the middle grades: An exploratory study of enactment variability and student reflection. Journal of Early Adolescence. doi: 10.1177/0272431615570057
Wallace, T.L., Sung, H.,*& Williams, J.D.* (2014).The defining features of teacher talk within autonomy-supportive classroom management. Teaching and Teacher Education. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2014.04.005
Wallace, T.L., & Chhuon, V. (2014). Proximal processes in urban classrooms: Engagement and disaffection in urban youth of color. American Educational Research Journal. doi: 10.3102/0002831214531324
Schall, J.,* Wallace, T. L., & Chhuon, V. (2014). "Fitting in" in high school: How adolescent belonging is influenced by locus of control beliefs. International Journal of Youth and Adolescence. doi: 10.1080/02673843.2013.866148
Horner, C.G.,* & Wallace, T.L. (2013). Measuring emotion socialization in schools. Journal of School Health. 83(10), 697-703. doi: 10.1111/josh.12083
Ye, F., & Wallace, T.L. (2013). Psychological sense of school membership scale: Method effects associated with negatively worded items. Journal of Psychoeducational Measurement. doi: 10.1177/0734282913504816