Science Education

Since 1991 I have become increasingly interested in how people learn. I taught biochemistry and chemistry courses to our undergraduates and graduate students, so what I learned through research I could bring into my classroom with the goal of improving the learning environment. I have published four monographs about K-12 teachers conducting action research or scientific research, and one monograph on scientists involved in K-8 education. I also served on a National Research Council committee that issued the book, Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium (2002).

I have conducted action research in my own university classrooms. For instance, I’ve published one action research study in a book I co-edited with Peter Taylor and Ken Tobin, called Triple Point FigureTransforming Undergraduate Science Teaching: Social Constructivist Perspectives, published in 2002 by Peter Lang Publishers, Inc. My chapter concerned the action research I did with my Honors General Chemistry students.

In 1997 I started a quest for a second doctorate in Science Education through Curtin University of Technology. In 2004, I finished writing the doctoral thesis and earned a D. Sc.Ed. It was an action research study of my own upper division, biochemistry classroom in which I utilized collaborative groups and technology in the classroom. My thesis included chapters, all focused on collaboration and technology. The sections included an autobiography, a fictionalized story about my classroom, ethnographic data about the learning environment from my students, and a metalogue with one of my biochemistry colleagues. In 2010, I published this as a book, Transforming Undergraduate Biochemistry Teaching Using Collaborative Learning and Technology: Ready, Set, Action Research.

My Science Education graduates have studied K-12 classrooms or written educational autobiographies. For instance, Dr. Yvette Greenspan studied one female Hispanic student who was in Yvette’s 3rd and 5th grade science classrooms about how she perceived working with boys in her collaborative group. Dr. Terrie Kielborn studied how middle school students perceived scientists and science differently after having participated in scientific inquiry when they examined a stream on their school’s property. Dr. Julie Lambert studied students’ learning and attitudes about marine science from high school marine science classrooms across the state of Florida. Ms. Sherri Hood interviewed five secondary school teachers who were thinking of leaving (or had left) teaching, and compared their stories with her own educational autobiography. Dr. Lori Hahn determined how scientific research experiences during one to two summers influenced the teaching of two middle school teachers.

My two most recent doctoral graduates to finish their degrees include Dr. Marcie Bosseler who studied two students in a low-income elementary school who were part of an after-school program in science in which technology was a door to inquiry experiences. The other is Dr. Ajda Kahveci (jointly with Dr. Sherry Southerland as co-major professor) studied how a living learning experience for freshman woman undergraduates interested in mathematics, science, or engineering influenced their attitudes and persistence in remaining as majors in science, mathematics or engineering.

In addition, Caren Prichard and Linda Kitner from the Panama City, FL campus each completed their master’s degree portfolios with me as their major professor. A major part of Caren's portfolio concerned the scientific research she did with me on identifying exotic plant species at Falling Waters State Park and using chemical treatments. She followed up with bringing what she learned into the science classes she teaches at Chipley High School. Linda did her scientific research at St. Andrew's State Park. She studied exotic plant species for her first summer, and the least tern and snowy plover birds for the second summer. She brought her learning to her kindergarten students.

Ethics in Scienceethics book real

I have also been active in the area of teaching ethics in science in science classrooms at the university level. I testified before the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989 on how I do this, given keynote addresses at the National Academy of Sciences on this topic, and served on an Institute of Medicine committee that published the book, Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct (2002). I have served on the editorial board for the journal, Science and Engineering Ethics, since its inception in 1997.




In the past, in my biochemical research we studied cell-cell recognition events between immune T cells and their tumor target cells. We purified cell-surface glycoproteins and inserted them in model membranes of defined composition and showed that the primed T cells recognized the model membranes containing the glycoproteins. We focused on the cell-surface molecules that contain carbohydrates because we found that the type of modification of the cell-surface sialic acids could modulate immune recognition.