Psychologist researching play, language, alienation under capitalism, and how social movements like Black Lives Matter change society and our implicit/explicit attitudes. My work is motivated by social justice and inspired by marxist psychologists like Lev Vygotsky. I run a student chess club and a faculty group on disability.
2018 – present Assistant Professor of Psychology, Kingsborough CC, CUNY.
2017 – 2018 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Temple University.
Ph.D. Developmental Psychology, 2017. The Graduate Center, CUNY.
Dissertation: A Playful Context Enhances Monolingual and Bilingual Preschoolers’ Mastery Motivation and Private Speech. Committee: Anna Stetsenko (advisor), Patricia J. Brooks, Bruce Homer, Susan Kirch (NYU), Adam Winsler (GMU).
M.S.Ed. School Psychology (Bilingual Extension), honors. Queens College, CUNY
B.A. Psychology, with honors. Stanford University, CA
Bilingual (Spanish) School Psychologist, 2007-2011, NYC Department of Education.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
Sawyer, J. & Gampa, A. (2020). Work alienation and its gravediggers: Social class, class consciousness, and activism. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 8(1), 198-219. https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.v8i1.1132
Schlesinger, M., Sawyer, J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Fabiano, R. (2020). Play Captains on Play Streets: A community-university playful learning and teen leadership collaboration. Collaborations: A Journal of Community-Based Research and Practice, 3(1): 5, 1-13. https://collaborations.miami.edu/articles/10.33596/coll.54/
Schlesinger, M. A., Hassinger-Das, B., Zosh, J. M., Sawyer, J., Evans, N. E., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2020). Cognitive behavioral science behind the value of play: Leveraging everyday experiences to promote play, learning, and positive interactions. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 19(2):5, 202-216. DOI: 10.1080/15289168.2020.1755084
Murano, D., Sawyer, J., & Lipnevich, A. (2020). A meta-analytic review of preschool social and emotional learning interventions. Review of Educational Research, 90(2), 227-263. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3102/0034654320914743
Sawyer, J. & Goldstein, T.
(2019). Can guided play and storybook reading promote children’s drawing development? Empirical Studies of the Arts, 37(1), 32–59. https://doi.org/10.1177/0276237418777946
*Sawyer, J. & Gampa, A. (2018). Implicit and explicit racial attitudes changed during the Black Lives Matter movement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 44(7), 1039–1059. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218757454 [*co-first authors]
Sawyer, J. & Stetsenko, A. (2018). Revisiting Marx and problematizing Vygotsky: A transformative approach to language and speech internalization. Special issue of Language Sciences: Karl Marx and the Language Sciences, 70, 143-154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2018.05.003
Sawyer, J., Obeid, R., Bublitz, D., Schwartz, A., Brooks, P. J. & Richmond, A. J. (2017). Which forms of active learning are best? Comparing cooperative learning and writing-to-learn across modalities. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 3(4), 257-271. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/stl0000095
Sawyer, J. (2017). I think I can: Preschoolers’ private speech and motivation in playful versus non-playful contexts. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 38, 84-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2016.09.004
Sawyer, J. (2016). In what language do you speak to yourself? A review of private speech and bilingualism. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 489-505. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2016.01.010
Sawyer, J. & Rifino, M. (2020) Transforming educational alienation into collective agency in community colleges. In T. Ober, E. Che, J. Brodsky, C. Raffaele, & P. Brooks (Eds.). How We Teach Now (Volume 2): The GSTA Guide to Transformative Teaching
(pp. 224-238). Society for the Teaching of Psychology e-book.
Sawyer, J. & Brooks, P. (2018). Conducting Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in diverse undergraduate psychology classrooms. SAGE Research Methods Cases. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526445032
Sawyer, J. & Obeid, R. (2017). Cooperative and collaborative learning: Getting the best of both words. In R. Obeid, A. Schwartz, C. Shane-Simpson, & P.J. Brooks (Eds.). How We Teach Now: The GSTA Guide to Student-Centered Teaching. Society for the Teaching of Psychology e-book. http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/
Sawyer, J. & Richmond, A. S. (2016). Adolescent development. In R. A. Gurung & A. S. Richmond (Ed.). Discover psychology: Instructor’s manual, Vol. 3. Champaign, IL: Diener Education Fund Publishers. http://www.nobaproject.com
Sawyer, J. & Richmond, A. S. (2016). Factors influencing learning. In R. A. Gurung & A. S. Richmond (Ed.). Discover psychology: Instructor’s manual, Vol. 3. Champaign, IL: Diener Education Fund Publishers. http://www.nobaproject.com
Shane-Simpson, C., Brooks, P. J., Hotez, E., Sawyer, J. & Dow, E. A. (2015). Web-enhanced collaborative learning in undergraduate psychology courses: Examples using the ASD Video Glossary, CHILDES, and Wikipedia. In Roberta V. Nata (Ed.) Progress in Education, Vol. 36 (pp. 25-47). NOVA Science Publishers, e-book.
Brooks, P., Dow, E., Jović, S., Kreniske, P., Panjwani, A., Sawyer, J., Schwartz, A., Shane-Simpson, C., Yannaco, F. & Yuksel-Sokmen, P. (2014). Useful books and websites for developing pedagogy in the teaching of psychology. In J. N. Busler, B. C. Beins, & W. Buskist, (Eds.) Preparing the New Psychology Professoriate: Helping Graduate Students Become Competent Teachers, 2nd edition (pp. 258-275). Society for the Teaching of Psychology e-book. http://teachpsych.org/page-1862898
Lopez, E., Sawyer, J., Biedenkapp, S., Irigoyen, M. (2010). Interpreters to support linguistically diverse students and families. In A. S. Canter, L. Z. Paige, & S. Shaw (Eds.), Helping Children at Home and School III: Handouts for Parents and Educators, National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
Brooks, P. J. & Sawyer, J. (2017). Michael Tomasello. In J. Vonk & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior (pp. 1-4). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_974-1
Stetsenko, A. & Sawyer, J. (2016). Culture and development. In H. Miller (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Psychology, Vol. 2 (pp. 211-213). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi:10.4135/9781483346274.n72
Sawyer, J. & Stetsenko, A. (2014). Lev Vygotsky. In P. Brooks & V. Kempe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Language Development (pp. 663-666). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483346441.n211
Refereed Conference Proceedings
Murano, D. & Sawyer, J. (2018). A Meta-Analysis of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning–Endorsed Preschool Social and Emotional Learning Programs. Proceedings of the annual meeting of American Educational Research Association (AERA). doi:10.302/1311230
Periodicals and Web-Based Publications
Hirsh-Pasek, K., Sawyer, J., Schlesinger, M., & Talarowski, M. (2019) Philadelphia Playful Learning City Playbook. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Playful-Learning-Playbook.pdf
Hassinger-Das, B., Schlesinger, M., Sawyer, J. & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2019) Playing to learn: Inside and outside of school. Parents League Review, 24-28. http://www.parentsleague.org
Sawyer, J. & Ayer, D.
(2018). Montessori and “playful learning.” Montessori Public, 3(1), 4-5. http://www.montessoripublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/MP-V3N1_Fall2018-web150.pdf
Sawyer, J. & Gampa, A (Winter, 2018). Building a Marxist psychology. [Review of the book Vygotsky and Marx: Toward a Marxist Psychology, by C. Ratner and D. N. Henrique Silva]. International Socialist Review, 111. https://isreview.org/issue/111/building-marxist-psychology
Goldstein, T. & Sawyer, J. (May 24, 2018). “The developmental magic of children’s drawing.” Psychology Today – The Mind on Stage (blog). https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mind-stage/201805/the-developmental-magic-children-s-drawing
Dore, R., Sawyer, J., Schlesinger, M., Shirilla, M., Golinkoff, R., Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2018) Playful learning: A way to maximize after school time. After School Today. Spring, 2018.
Obeid, R. & Sawyer, J. (May 20, 2017). “To write or not to write: Incorporating low-stakes writing assignments into the classroom.” Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2) – GSTA Blog (blog). http://teachpsych.org/page-1784686/4842942
Schwartz, A. Sawyer, J., Ober, T., Che, E. (2017, Feb). GSTA talks at the 10th Annual Subway Summit. TOPNews-Online, 20(2), 8.
Ober, T., Sawyer, J., Yannaco, F., Obeid, R. & Schwartz, A. (2016, Dec). Reflections on participation in the SoTL Workshop: One year later. TOPNews-Online, 19(12), 6.
Sawyer, J. (August 31, 2016). “The joys of weekend teaching.”
Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2) – GSTA Blog (blog). http://teachpsych.org/page-1784686/4220617
Sawyer, J. (November 14, 2014). “Massimiliano Tomba: Insurgent universality and the question of human rights.” Student Research Commons: Advanced Research Collaborative (blog). http://arc.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2014/11/10/massimiliano-tomba-insurgent-universality-and-the-question-of-human-rights
Sawyer, J. (2014). Vygotsky’s revolutionary theory of human psychological development. International Socialist Review, 93, 74-101.
Sawyer, J. (2014) was later translated into Chinese by Andy Tan, titled: 维果茨基革命的心理发展理论. January 18, 2019, The Paper. http://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_2856273
Research covered in “Why most Americans support the protests.” (June 5th, 2020) The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/us/politics/polling-george-floyd-protests-racism.html
Research featured in “13 Scholars Shedding Light on the Roots of Racial Injustice.” (February 7, 2020) CUNY Graduate Center News. https://www.gc.cuny.edu/News/All-News/Detail?id=54119
Research featured in “11 Graduate Center scholars who are changing perspectives on African-Americans and drawing attention to critical issues.” (February 7, 2020) CUNY Graduate Center News. https://www.gc.cuny.edu/News/All-News/Detail?id=54119
Research featured in “How did #BlackLivesMatter affect racism?” (August 29th, 2018) for Sum. https://sum.cuny.edu/how-did-blacklivesmatter-affect-racism/
Research featured in “Black Lives Matter movement moves racism needle.” CUNY Graduate Center News. https://www.gc.cuny.edu/News/All-News/Detail?id=45083
Interviewed for “Study: Racial bias declined during the Black Lives Matter movement – but not during Obama’s presidency” (April 11th, 2018) in PsyPost.
Research featured in “Racism declined during the Black Lives Matter campaign” (April 2nd, 2018) Pacific Standard. https://psmag.com/social-justice/racism-declined-during-the-black-lives-matter-campaign
Sawyer, J. (delayed until 2021) Transforming alienation into class consciousness and activism in the community college. Presentation as part of symposium at International Society for Cultural-Historical Activity Research (ISCAR). August 2 – 7. Natal, Brazil.
Brooks, P.J., Maouene, J., Sawyer, J., Sheng, L., & Maouene, M. (delayed). Modeling Lexical-Semantic Networks of School Age Children through a Repeated Word Association Task. Poster presentation at 1st Experiments in Linguistic Meaning (ELM) conference. September 18-20. University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA.
Brooks, P. J., Maouene, J., Garzone, A., & Sawyer, J. (July 15, 2020, now delayed) Using the repeated word association task to explore development of lexical-semantic networks in children and adults. Presentation as part of the 15th Congress of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASL). July 13 – 17. Philadelphia, PA.
Sawyer, J. (May 15, 2020, now delayed). Can private speech reduce egocentrism? Evidence for perspective taking in preschoolers’ self-talk. CUNY’s 5th Biennial Conference on Language, Society and Culture: Speech and Communication for All (LSC-5). May 15, 2020. Brooklyn, NY.
Sawyer, J. (June 21, 2019)
Pro-White Implicit Bias Declined during the Black Lives Matter Movement. Paper presentation at Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Conference. June 21-23. San Diego, CA.
Sawyer, J. (June 7, 2019) Can private speech help children overcome egocentrism? A neo-Vygotskian reply to Piaget. Paper presentation at 49th Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society. June 6-8, 2019. Portland, OR.
Sawyer, J. (March 1, 2019) Learning must be active, but which activities are best? Presentation at annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association. February 28-March 2, 2019. New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (October 26, 2018) What’s the point of random assignment?
Presentation at Pedagogy Day conference. October 26; The Graduate Center, CUNY. New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (September 21, 2018) Playful Learning in Urban Landscapes. Talk at Park(ing) Day After Party on Park(ing) Day theme of “Playful Learning.” Center for Architecture and Design. Philadelphia, PA.
Sawyer, J. (June 30, 2018) Philadelphia as a Playful Learning City. Preconference workshop presentation at International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS). June 30-July 3, 2018. Philadelphia, PA.
Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R., Hassinger-Das, B., Bustamante, A., Sawyer, J., Morris, A., Zapata, M., & Treat, A. (June 30, 2018) Designing Playful Learning Cities: The Learning Landscapes Initiative in Philadelphia and Beyond. Co-organizer and presenter at preconference workshop of International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS). June 30-July 3, 2018. Philadelphia, PA.
Bustamante, A. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Schlesinger, M., Sawyer, J., Evans, N., Fanning, L., Fasciano, D., Shahidi, N., Radigan, R., & Golinkoff, R. M. (June 26, 2018). Preliminary results from Parkopolis: The life-size STEM board game. Poster presented at the National Research Conference on Early Childhood; Washington, D.C.
Murano, D. & Sawyer, J. (April 15, 2018). A Meta-Analysis of CASEL-Endorsed Preschool Social and Emotional Learning Programs. Paper presentation at annual meeting of American Educational Research Association (AERA). April 13-17, 2018; New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (October 13, 2017). A Playful Context Enhances Bilingual and Monolingual Preschoolers’ Motivation and Private Speech. Presentation at Cognitive Development Society (CDS). October 12-14, 2017; Portland, OR.
Sawyer, J.; Stetsenko, A.; Jones, P. & Lantolf, J. (August 29, 2017). The ‘magic of signs’: Creative coordination of transformative activity. Symposium organizer and presenter, International Society for Cultural-Historical Activity Research (ISCAR). August 28 – September 1, 2017; Quebec City, Canada.
Sawyer, J. (August 29, 2017). Overcoming ‘Egocentrism’ through Private Speech: Creative Coordination of Perspectives in Children’s Self-dialogue. Presentation at International Society for Cultural-Historical Activity Research (ISCAR). August 28 – September 1, 2017; Quebec City, Canada.
Sawyer, J., Obeid, R., Bublitz, D., Schwartz, A., Brooks, P., & Richmond, A. (April 5, 2017) Which active learning methods are best? Comparing cooperative learning and writing-to-learn across modalities. Poster at Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Developmental Science Teaching Institute. April 5-8, 2017; Austin, TX.
Sawyer, J. & Obeid, R. (March 28, 2017). Incorporating writing-to-learn activities across the curriculum. Writing-Across-the-Curriculum (WAC) workshop. March 28, 2017; College of Staten Island, CUNY. New York, NY.
Obeid, R. & Sawyer, J. (March 24, 2017). Fostering the development of writing skills across the psychology curriculum. Pedagogy workshop sponsored by Graduate Student Teaching Association (GSTA, part of Society for the Teaching of Psychology, APA Division 2). March 24, 2017; The Graduate Center, CUNY. New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (January 20, 2017) Active learning and multimedia: What combinations are best for teaching psychology? Presentation at Subway Summit on Cognition and Education Research. January 20, 2017; Fordham University – Lincoln Center. New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (October 28, 2016). Conduct research on your teaching! A SoTL project in developmental psychology. Presentation at Pedagogy Day conference. October 28; The Graduate Center, CUNY. New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. & Pickens, J. (August 26, 2015). The CAARP test: Evaluating psychology in the media. Achieving Total Participation Workshop. August 26; The Graduate Center, CUNY. New York, NY.
Brooks, P., Shane-Simpson, C., Sawyer, J. (June 10, 2015). Developing critical thinking skills through collaborative web-based research. Workshop at Critical Thinking in Psychology Workshop. June 10; Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.
Sawyer, J.; Garte, R.; Ho, G.; Stetsenko, A. (June 4, 2015).
Early childhood play and the development of communicative competence. Symposium organizer and presenter, Jean Piaget Society, 2015 – Neuroplasticity and Change. June 4-6; Toronto, Canada.
Astuto, J.; Sawyer, J.; Garte, R.; Medellin-Paz, C.; Jean-Gilles, J. (May 22, 2015). Power of play: Opportunities that promote the engagement of our youngest learners. Symposium organizer and presenter at the 27th Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science (APS). May 21-24; New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (April 24, 2015). ‘I think I can’: Preschoolers’ private speech and mastery motivation in playful vs. non-playful contexts. Poster presentation, then honored with selection for a 2-minute “Data Blitz” presentation at Sixth Annual All-Psychology Doctoral Student Research Day. April 24; CUNY Graduate Center. New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (March 19, 2015). Private speech and mastery motivation in play vs. pre-academic settings.
Poster presentation at 2015 Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Biennial Meeting. March 19-21; Philadelphia, PA.
Brooks, P.; Dow, E.; Sawyer, J.; Strashnaya, R.; Powers, K.L (March 18, 2015). Calling all first-time instructors: Help from the Graduate Student Teaching Association. Roundtable presentation at 2015 Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Developmental Science Teaching Institute. March 19-21; Philadelphia. PA.
Sawyer, J. (January 23, 2015). Private speech and motivation in playful contexts. Presentation at 2015 Subway Summit on Cognition and Education Research. January 23; The Graduate Center, CUNY. New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (October 24, 2014). Scaffolded duck counting. Teaching activity presentation at Pedagogy Day conference. October 24; The Graduate Center, CUNY. New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (June 7, 2014). A tale of two psyches: Upper class and working class psychology. Presentation at How Class Works conference. June 7; Stony Brook University, NY.
Sawyer, J. (May 29, 2014). ‘I think I can’: Children’s private speech and motivational processes. Poster presentation at Jean Piaget Society 2014 – Rethinking Language and Communicative Development. May 29-31; San Francisco, CA.
Sawyer, J. (April 5, 2014). In the contradiction lies the hope: Social class and psychological inequality.
Presentation at Investigating Inequalities: An Interdisciplinary Academic Conference. April 5; Fordham University, Bronx, NY.
Sawyer, J. (June 8, 2013). Radical experiments in education: Mesheryakov’s cultural-historical approach to special education. Presentation at Left Forum 2013. June 7-9; New York, NY.
Sawyer, J. (May 13, 2019). Pro-White implicit bias declined during the Black Lives Matter Movement. Research presentation at Faculty Forum. Kingsborough Community College, CUNY.
Sawyer, J. (September 27, 2017). “How do children develop agency? Play and imaginative self-talk enhance preschoolers’ motivation.” Invited talk at Department of Teaching and Learning Lecture Series. New York University (NYU).
Sawyer, J. (December 6, 2016). “What motivates preschoolers? Play, private speech, and intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.” Campus talk at Psychology Colloquia. College of Staten Island, CUNY.