Elizabeth A. Davis
Professor; Science Education
Betsy Davis is a science educator and teacher educator whose research interests include teacher and student learning. She is especially interested in beginning and experienced elementary teachers, teachers learning to engage in ambitious science teaching, and the roles of curriculum materials and teacher education in promoting teacher learning.
Davis leads, with Annemarie Palincsar, a project funded by the Spencer Foundation focused on elementary teaching interns in the University of Michigan undergraduate Elementary Teacher Education program. The longitudinal project explores how interns develop a set of high-leverage science teaching practices (such as supporting children to construct scientific explanations, or eliciting students' thinking about science) and how they develop content knowledge for science teaching (including understanding the science content and practices and strategies for teaching it to children). The project looks at how those trajectories of development are connected to elements of the teacher education program (such as the course experiences and field-based assignments) and to characteristics of the schools in which interns and teachers work. The project applies sociocultural and sociocognitive conceptual frameworks to data collection and analysis, toward the goal of exploring unique contributions of different frameworks to understanding teacher development.
Davis helped to lead the redesign of the Elementary Teacher Education program to have a more deliberate and detailed focus on practice, as well as on content knowledge for teaching and the ethical obligations of the profession. The aim of the program is to help interns learn how to do the work of ambitious elementary teaching. Davis' scholarly interest within this context is on how novice elementary teachers leverage their work across disciplines to learn to engage in ambitious science teaching.
Another major focus of Davis's work is the use of educative curriculum materials in supporting elementary teachers in ambitious science teaching. Recent research has explored the overarching research question: How does teacher use of educative curriculum materials relate to (a) teachers' learning, (b) teachers' practice (and thus students' opportunities to learn), and (c) students' learning of science content and about scientific practices across scientific disciplines? This work explores teachers' uptake of ideas and practices embedded in educative features in curriculum materials.
Previous National Science Foundation-funded projects included CASES, CCMS, MoDeLS, and ELECTS. The CASES project, of which Davis was the PI, focused on how preservice and new elementary teachers learn to teach inquiry-oriented science and how curriculum materials and technology can support those teachers’ learning. Davis also helped lead the Center for Curriculum Materials in Science, a center for teaching and learning focused on research and development around the use of curriculum materials in promoting teacher and student learning, and the MoDeLS project. Most recently, she co-led (with Annemarie Palincsar at U-M and Sean Smith at Horizon Research, Inc.) the ELECTS project focused on educative curriculum materials. Throughout this work, Davis's research integrates science education, teacher education, and the learning sciences.
Among other courses, Davis teaches a graduate course on the development of expertise in science teaching and, in the undergraduate Elementary Teacher Education program, the elementary science methods course. She received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998, and received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers at the White House in 2002 and the Jan Hawkins Early Career Award in 2004. She was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi in 2015. Important publications have focused on educative curriculum materials (with Joe Krajcik in Educational Researcher in 2005, and with Palincsar and other colleagues in Harvard Educational Review in 2014) and the challenges faced by beginning elementary and secondary science teachers (with former students Debra Petish and Julie Smithey, in Review of Educational Research in 2006).
Arias, A., Bismack, A., Davis, E. A., & Palincsar, A. S. (in press). interacting with a suite of educative features: Elementary science teachers' use of educative curriculum materials. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.
Bismack, A. S., Arias, A., Davis, E. A., & Palincsar, A. S. (2015). Examining student work for evidence of teacher uptake of educative curriculum materials. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(6), 816-846.
Davis, E. A., Palincsar, A. S., Arias, A., Bismack, A., Marulis, L., & Iwashyna, S. (2014). Designing educative curriculum materials: A theoretically and empirically driven process. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1), 24-52.
Forbes, C., & Davis, E. A. (2010). Curriculum design for inquiry: Preservice elementary teachers’ mobilization and adaptation of science curriculum materials. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(7), 820-839.
Beyer, C., & Davis, E. A. (2009). Using educative curriculum materials to support preservice elementary teachers' curricular planning: A comparison between two different forms of support. Curriculum Inquiry, 39(5), 679-703.
Davis, E. A., & Smithey, J. (2009). Beginning teachers moving toward effective elementary science teaching. Science Education, 93(4), 745-770.
Davis, E. A., Petish, D., & Smithey, J. (2006). Challenges new science teachers face. Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 607-651.
Davis, E. A., & Krajcik, J. (2005). Designing educative curriculum materials to promote teacher learning. Educational Researcher, 34(3), 3-14.