Janet Kolodner's research has addressed issues in learning, memory, and problem solving, both in computers and in people. She pioneered the computer reasoning method called case-based reasoning, a way of solving problems based on analogies to past experiences, and her lab emphasized case-based reasoning for situations of real-world complexity. Her book, Case-Based Reasoning, synthesizes work across the field of case-based reasoning from its inception to 1993. The notion of a case-based design aid (CBDA), or an indexed library of design cases with the kinds of information in them that can help designers make design decisions, comes from her lab, which was the originator of the first CBDA, Archie-II, in collaboration with colleagues in architecture. She has also been a leader in articulating the cognitive model case-based reasoning implies and the applications and implications of case-based reasoning for education and creative problem solving. For the past decade, she has focused most of her research using the model to design science curriculum for middle school. The approach, called Learning by Design™ (LBD), is a design-based learning approach and an inquiry-oriented project-based approach to science learning. Students learn science and scientific reasoning in the context of designing working artifacts (e.g., a miniature vehicle). The challenge engages them and encourages curiosity, the want to succeed promotes a want to learn what's needed to succeed, and the design cycle, which interweaves design and investigation, engineering and scientific reasoning, learning and application, and doing and reflection, helps children identify what they need to learn, come to understand the science content and come to become well-versed in science practices. More recently, she and her students are applying what they've learned about design-based learning to informal education -- after-school programs, museum programs, and museum exhibits. The goal of these projects is to identify ways of helping pre-teens and young teens consider who they are as thinkers and to come to value informed decision making and informed production and consumption of evidence. In Kitchen Science Investigators, 5th and 6th graders are learning in the context of cooking. In Hovering Around, they are learning in the context of designing hovercraft.
Kolodner was founding Director of Georgia Tech's EduTech Institute, whose mission is to use what we know about cognition to inform the design of educational technology and learning environments. She served as coordinator of G eorgia Tech's cognitive science program for many years. Professor Kolodner is founding Editor in Chief of The Journal of the Learning Sciences, an interdisciplinary journal that focuses on learning and education. She is a founder of the International Society for the Learning Sciences, and she served as its first Executive