Modeling College Chemistry Learning Environments: We recognize that learning environments are complex systems in which instructors, students, instructional context, learning activities, and learning objectives interact dynamically. By characterizing multiple aspects of these systems (e.g., instructional practices, assessment, and instructional emphases), we may infer the degree to which a given learning environment is constructively aligned toward valued performances. This multi-part learning environment model has and will continue to be used to characterize general- and organic- chemistry learning environments.
Supporting Sensemaking in High School Chemistry: This research-practice partnership aims to create, implement and refine a curricular activity system for high school chemistry that supports students in explaining aspects of their existence in terms of atomic/molecular behavior. Learning environments we design are structured around scaffolded sequences of “big ideas” (e.g., energy, electrostatic and bonding interactions) that build in complexity as students make sense of increasingly complex systems. Our work will contribute to a nuanced understanding of how high school students can be supported in molecular-level sensemaking as well as a robust and flexible system of materials aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Funded by NSF DRL 2003680.
Modeling Epistemological Messaging: To ask questions about how (or whether) particular reform efforts support epistemologies that are productive in post-school life, we need to simplify learning environments by deciding which system components are likely to send consequential messages about knowledge and knowing, how domain-general and domain-specific messages sent by course components should be described, and how one might elicit evidence of the ways in which students experience, negotiate and respond to the many messages that bombard them over a semester. Stated succinctly, we need to build a model for how students’ epistemological understandings develop over the course of a semester as a result of interactions with different parts of the course system. The goal of this project is creation of such a model. Specifically, we aim to unpack the epistemological landscape of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in an undergraduate science course and to study how that landscape gives rise to student views of knowledge and learning in science. This model will allow the scholarly community to identify potential lever points for reform efforts grounded in a desire to support epistemological development.