Katherine Merseth’s work concentrates on charter schools, teacher education, mathematics education, and the case-method of instruction.
At Harvard, Merseth founded the Harvard Children’s Initiative, a university-wide program focusing on the needs of children as well as the School Leadership and the Teacher Education Programs at the School of Education.
In mathematics education, she was the principal investigator of the Mathematics Case Development Project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Massachusetts Math and Science Partnership working with middle school mathematics teachers using classroom based cases; she also served as co-principal investigator of the Teacher Education Addressing Mathematics and Science in Boston and Cambridge Project. Her book, Windows on Teaching Mathematics: Cases of Secondary Mathematics Classrooms (Teachers College Press), represents work in mathematics education and the case method while her involvement as a case method teacher of school administrators exists in her Cases in Educational Administration (Longman).
Internationally, Merseth has edited two volumes of cases about classroom practice in South Africa and Chile. In the charter field, she recently concluded a two year study examining best practices in high performing urban charter schools which culminated in the award winning book, Inside Urban Charter Schools (Harvard Education Press).
Recently, Merseth was awarded a Harvard Initiative on Teaching and Learning (HILT)award to explore the use of a new technology platform to enhance the teaching of controversial topics. In addition, Merseth has recently begun to teach in the General Education Program of Harvard College. Her course, the Dilemmas of Excellence and Equity in K-12 American Schools, has drawn the interest of over 300 Harvard College students each semester.
Merseth has served as a curriculum developer, teacher, and administrator in K-12 schools. In addition to her Harvard doctorate, Merseth holds a bachelor’s in mathematics from Cornell University, a master’s in mathematics from Boston College, and a master of arts in teaching secondary mathematics from Harvard. She spends any free time on her tractor at her Maine farmhouse, hiking, or rowing on the Charles.