Science Education

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies

Elizabeth (Betsy) Davis

Graduate and undergraduate students alike benefit from Davis's expertise in science education and teacher education. She helps teachers-to-be engage in inquiry-oriented science teaching and she works with graduate students interested in teacher education. Among other courses, Davis teaches a graduate course on the development of expertise in science teaching.

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How can we improve science-learning opportunities for all students? How do we design learning environments and curriculum materials that support diverse teaching and learning styles in science? How can new educational technologies help teachers and students improve learning in science? What should teachers and students know about the role of language and other representations in science learning to improve student outcomes? How can we design teacher education opportunities to help teachers learn to teach through inquiry-oriented science? Faculty and students in the Science Education concentration work side-by-side with practitioners to explore solutions to questions like these.

Faculty and students in the Science Education concentration are exploring questions like these and developing innovative curriculum to support diverse students learning enduring ideas in science through inquiry. Exciting research projects focus on the uses of learning technologies in science teaching and learning, the preparation and professional development of elementary, middle school, and high school science teachers, and the adaptation of science reform programs to urban classrooms. Some of the current projects include:

The concentration in Science Education provides a broad perspective from which students and faculty can examine these issues. When you join this program, you will join a program that leads the way in exploring new ideas to promote student learning and improve the teaching and learning of science.

If you are a motivated learner who learns through engagement with challenging ideas and real-world experiences and an individual who wants to impact the teaching and learning of science in schools, then the Science Education concentration may be of interest to you. The concentration will prepare students to tackle difficult challenges facing the teaching of science in classrooms. The program prepares the graduate students to use theoretical and research-based ideas to change science classrooms.

This concentration is housed within the Educational Studies program, which fosters links among students and faculty in a number of specializations sharing a commitment to the integration of theory and research on teaching, learning, and educational access in P-12 settings.

This program prepares scholars and researchers to explore important issues in science education that have an impact on the teaching and learning of science. A primary focus is exploration of important questions that can impact children, science teachers, and science classrooms as well as informing other scholars in the field of science education. As a student you will develop and refine your own research questions and agenda in concert with others dedicated to the same goal. You will study important topics in science education and then immerse yourself in real-world research alongside nationally recognized specialists in their field. Experts in the field of science education will guide and support your work.

Advanced knowledge in the sciences and science education along with interdisciplinary study are required to understand and investigate the complex problems facing science education today. Specializing in science education requires in-depth understanding of several fields, including a science discipline, educational psychology, sociology, history, philosophy of science, and curriculum design.

Teaching and research assistantships are available for qualified applicants. Teaching assistantships, available for those individuals with science teaching experience at the elementary, middle, or high school levels, involve working with science methods and practicum classes and/or the supervision of student teachers. Research assistantships involve work on a variety of externally funded projects. The Science Education concentration has close ties to both the Learning Technology area and the Teacher Education area within the Educational Studies program.

After completion of your doctorate in Science Education you will be prepared for leadership positions in higher education, public and private research, and school leadership.


Within the Science Education concentration you will have opportunities to work with faculty members who are exploring a range of substantive questions in science education. Some of the projects that Science Education faculty and students are working on now, or have been involved with in the past, include:

Plan of Study

Course planning sheets outline the School of Education course requirements. 

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