Elizabeth Zumpe is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Education at UMass Lowell.

Elizabeth Zumpe, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor

she, her, hers
Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Education
O'Leary Library 5th Floor


Continuous Improvement in Schools and Districts, Qualitative and Design-based Research, Research-Practice Partnerships, Education Policy

Research Interests

Organizational and team development in high-poverty schools and districts; cultivating collective agency in contexts of adversity; fostering education leaders' problem solving mindsets; use and learning of improvement science and design-based school improvement; research for impact on educational practice


  • Ph.D., Education, Policy & Organizations, University of California, Berkeley
    • Dissertation title: School Improvement in the Next Level of Work: Struggling for Collective Agency in a School Facing Adversity
  • M.A., Education, Policy & Organizations, University of California, Berkeley
  • B.A., English, Oberlin College


Elizabeth Zumpe, Ph.D., is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the online Leadership in Schooling Ed.D program in the School of Education. Elizabeth is an improvement-focused scholar focused on organizational, leadership, and team development processes in high-poverty schools and districts.

Within university-based leadership development programs and research-practice partnerships (RPP) with school districts, Zumpe uses qualitative research, action research, and design-based research to understand and co-design enabling processes for educators facing adversity to build capacity for continuous improvement. Through her teaching and research, Zumpe supports education leaders at all levels of the system to undertake user-centered organizational problem solving using tools of improvement science and design-based school improvement. Through this work, she seeks to learn how to foster mindsets and collective agency for improvement in contexts of adversity.

She was a key member of a seven-year RPP with a high-poverty California school district, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Prior to doctoral studies, Elizabeth was a public school teacher for more than a decade in several urban school districts and earned National Board Certification in Teaching.

Selected Publications

  • Zumpe, E. (in press). Evidence-based practices in U.S. schools: The California context. In C. Brown & J. R. Malin (Eds.), The handbook of evidence-informed practice in education: Learning from international contexts. Emerald Publishing Limited.
  • Mintrop, R., & Zumpe, E. (2019). Solving real-life problems of practice and education leaders’ school improvement mind-set. American Journal of Education, 125(3), 295- 344.
  • Mintrop, R., Zumpe, E., & Baral, M. (2019). Design-based school improvement and research for educational leaders. In M. Connolly, D. E. Spicer, C. James, & S. D. Kruse (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of school organization (pp.666-689). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Mintrop, R., with Zumpe, E. (2016). Design-based school improvement: A practical guide for education leaders. “Defining and framing problems of practice” (pp. 31-42); “Making intuitive theories of action explicit (pp. 28-35); “Understanding the problem” (pp. 61-69). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Selected Presentations

  • Zumpe, E. (2022, April). Improvement in the next level of work: Struggling for collective agency amongst educators facing adversity. Paper accepted for AERA Annual Meeting.
  • Zumpe, E., Aramburo, C., & Mintrop, R. (2021, November). The crucibles of school improvement: When problem-driven development meets ‘best practice’ implementation. In-person paper presentation at UCEA Annual Convention, Columbus, OH.
  • Mintrop, R., Zumpe, E., & Aramburo, C. (2021, November). Fostering continuous improvement in districts: Affordances of a design for professional development for educational leaders. In-person paper presentation at UCEA Annual Convention, Columbus, OH.
  • Zumpe, E. (2021, June). Developing improvement capacity —in the real world of schools. Invited talk at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut.
  • Mintrop, R., Jackson, K., Zumpe, E., Nucci, D., & Norman, J. (2021, April). A framework for the design challenge of implementing deeper learning through instructional practice. Poster Presentation at the Virtual AERA Annual Meeting.
  • Zumpe, E. (2020, January). Educators’ ways of coping and caring in a school facing adversity: The U.S. context. Paper presentation at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI), Marrakesh, Morocco.
  • Zumpe, E. (2019, November). The human side of continuous improvement: Processes of coping and resilience among educators facing adversity. Paper presentation at the UCEA Annual Convention, New Orleans, LA.
  • Zumpe, E. (2019, September). Understanding the human side of continuous improvement: Collective defensiveness in schools facing adversity. Paper presentation at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Hamburg, Germany.