Allison M. Ryan


Allison M. Ryan, School of Education

Allison Ryan’s research interests and projects focus on the development of achievement beliefs and behaviors during early adolescence. Her research examines how children’s personal characteristics and the interplay with classroom and peer group contexts influence motivation, engagement, and achievement in school. A recurring theme throughout her work is the intersection of social and academic concerns of young adolescents at school.

Many of Ryan’s publications stem from a longitudinal study that followed several hundred children during early adolescence as they moved from small elementary schools to larger middle schools in a small urban setting. In general, her findings indicate early adolescence is a challenging time for many students characterized by declines in student motivation and a peer ecology that becomes less supportive of engagement in school. However, there is variability in these trends. Her current projects are further investigating such variability. In one project Ryan’s research team is collecting longitudinal data from a sample evenly split between students in k-8 schools and students in k-6/ middle schools to better understand the extent to which such developmental trends are indicative of the transition to middle school versus the early adolescent stage. In another project, funded by the Spencer Foundation, Ryan’s research team is conducting observations of pre and post-transition classes to better understand how teacher practices are related to student motivation and peer support for learning in the classroom.

Ryan received the American Psychological Association's Outstanding Dissertation Award, Division 15, in 2000 and the association's Richard E. Snow Award for Early Contributions to Research, Division 15, in 2008. She has been associate editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology since 2009.

Ryan earned her doctorate from the University of Michigan in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology. Ryan comes to the University of Michigan after 13 years at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Ryan teaches courses in the following program(s):
Combined Program in Education and Psychology


Selected Publications


Rodkin, P. & Ryan, A.M. (in press, anticipated 2012). Child and adolescent peer relations in an educational context. In T. Urdan, S. Graham, M. Royer, & M. Zeidner (Eds.) Educational Psychology Handbook.  Washington DC: APA Publications.

Kiefer, S. M. & Ryan, A. M. (2011).  What characteristics are associated with social success?:  Changes in students’ perceptions of social success during early adolescence.  Applied Developmental Psychology, 32 , 218-226.  

Patrick, H., Kaplan, A., & Ryan, A.M. (2011).  Positive classroom motivational environments: Convergence between mastery goal structure and the classroom social climate.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 103,  367-382. DOI: 10.1037/a0023311

Ryan, A. M. (2011). Peer relationships and academic adjustment during early adolescence.  (Special Issue). Journal of Early Adolescence, 31, 5-12. 

Ryan, A. M. & Shin, H. (2011).  Help-seeking tendencies: An examination of motivational correlates and consequences for achievement during the first year of middle school.  Learning and Instruction, 21, 247-256.  clear

Ryan, A. M., Shim, S. S., uThando, S. L., Kiefer, S. M. & Thomspon, G. (2009).  Do gender differences in help avoidance vary by ethnicity?: An examination of African American and European American students during early adolescence.  Developmental Psychology, 45, 1152-1163.  

Ryan, A. M. & Shim, S. S. (2008).  An exploration of young adolescents’ social achievement goals and social adjustment in middle school.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 100,  672-687.

Kiefer, S. M. & Ryan, A. M. (2008).  Striving for social dominance over peers: The implications for academic adjustment during early adolescence.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 417-428. 

Ryan, A. M., Patrick, H., & Shim, S. S.  (2005). Differential profiles of students identified by their teacher as having avoidant, appropriate or dependent help-seeking tendencies in the classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97 (2) 275-285.

Ryan, A.M. (2001).  The peer group as a context for the development of young adolescents’ motivation and achievement.  Child Development, 72, 1135-1150.




6/15/2010 - 7/14/2011 Teacher Practices in Elementary and Middle School Classrooms
Granting Agency: Spencer Foundation

Courses & Syllabi

Term Catalogue Course Description Syllabus
Fall 2011 EDUC 709. Motivation in the Classroom EDUC 709. Motivation in the Classroom


Room 4111