Associate Professor of Science Education, Boston College
Lynch School of Education
Campion Hall, Room 122
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Click here to download a pdf version of my cv (updated May 2013).
My research focuses on helping students with diverse backgrounds become interested in science and learn both science content and scientific inquiry practices. Specifically, my work has focused on two separate but overlapping areas of research: 1. Designing science curriculum and 2. Supporting students in scientific explanations and arguments.
Recent reform efforts have criticized existing k-12 science curriculum for not addressing key science learning goals or taking into account what we know as a field about how students learn science. Yet science teachers often rely heavily on curriculum and these materials can be an important tool to change classroom practice. My work has included the design and research of middle school and high school science curriculum to support students in learning key science concepts and scientific inquiry practices.
Science is not about discovering or memorizing facts; rather it is about constructing arguments and considering and debating multiple explanations for phenomena. This type of explanation construction occurs within a community of scientists where different explanations are compared, debated and countered with competing explanations. In today’s society in which mass media inundates individuals with assertions and arguments, all individuals, not just scientists, need to apply those same critical skills for personal decision making, participation in societal and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. Argumentation and explanation have become increasingly prevalent as essential goals for science education in which students need to support claims using appropriate evidence and reasoning as well as consider and be critical of alternative explanations. My research has focused on how curricular scaffolds, activity structures, and teacher instructional strategies can support students in engaging in scientific explanation and argumentation in both students' writing and classroom discourse.