|Interests | Projects
My research interests fall under the category of "Education for the Anthropocene". As we enter a new geologic era where we make an outsized impact on the planet but without a clear idea of the consequences of our actions, it has become increasingly important to educate and train global stewards. We need citizens who have a global perspective and can think and reason scientifically to solve increasingly complex problems. My research focuses on improving science education at the young adult and adult level, specifically focusing on interdisciplinary science (astrobiology, geoscience, and sustainability). Additionaly, I am working on investigating approaches to teacher training, especially once technology becomes involved.
- Undergraduate education - improving student understanding of the scientific process (observation-assumption models)
- Public outreach - building public understanding of the scientific process and content knowledge through technology
- Teacher training - using technology and adapting materials across cultures
Introductory science courses remain stuck in lecture-lab structures that don't exemplify the process of science, leaving students with little knowledge about how the actual process of science works and a dependence on others to tell them what is "true" throughout their lives. This project is working to rebuild the science classroom around the active process of science, based on observations and assumptions and the derivation of knowledge from their acquisition and testing. The goal is to utilize the introductory science classroom (regardless of field) to teach students scientific thinking. It also has students rummaging through their trash to assemble experiments (since it's cheaper than proper lab equipment, more creative and engaging, and allows us to scaffold lab methodologies).
Related: Science Voices Blog
Decision-Making in Uncertain Environments
More science knowledge does not necessarily result in better policy-making, especially when politically motivated reasoning comes into play. Many scientists have responded to poor public policy related to science issues with more "facts". But "facts" can be fluid, especially during fast-changing events (take, for example, COVID) and decisions still need to be made. With the Greenworks project and its central game engine, I am working to develop a research tool for investigating how deeply students investigate data that the game provides them and how that data impacts their decision-making. I am also working to create information-distorting mechanisms to observe how students cope with dysfunctional instutitions and organizations that do not provide them with accurate data.
A lot of research has explored how students learn and behave in the classroom. But little research has gone into how teachers develop and adapt each others' content. This is because this kind of research is extremely difficult beause there is no easy way to collect this data at large scales. This has resulted in a lot of learning libraries that contain lesson plans and activities with essentially no data available on their effectiveness and the context of any effectiveness. A big consequence is that teachers are constantly reinventing the wheel with these resources as they adapt them to their students and classrooms. With the Agavi project, I am working to develop methodologies to explore how science teaching activities mutate over time and space. The goal of this project is to identify patterns in how teaching materials are adapted to their environment so that these patterns can be utilized via AI and machine learning to help adapt teaching content across cultural barriers.
Related Materials: Agavi