We conduct educational research that seeks to identify instructional strategies that:
- improve the scientific literacy of nonscientist members of the public,
- improve the scientific literacy of pre-service teachers,
- fosters self-determination among future STEM teachers to be change agents by addressing inequities and minoritization of identity groups,
- fosters self-determination among members of the public to make science-informed decisions,
- fosters self-determination among future teachers to extend scientific thinking into their classrooms.
Addressing Science Denial
We seek conduct research that investigates how instruction supports students to successfully overcome science denial, which is the “systematic rejection of empirical evidence to avoid undesirable facts or conclusions” (p. 129, Lui 2012). We bring together the literatures in motivation theory (motivated reasoning and self-determination theory) as well as evidence-based strategies for fostering conceptual change (model-evidence-link diagrams).
Preparing Preservice STEM Teachers for Modern, Diverse Classrooms
Modern teachers are tasked with the challenge of delivering instruction that is profoundly different than the instruction they received as students, due to both the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and the changing demographics of US schools. We investigate several questions that relate to this challenge, such as how do preservice STEM teachers come to understand the practices of their discipline so that they may engage their students in those practices? Similarly, how do future STEM teachers come to understand opportunity gaps as causes of STEM achievement gaps, and how can opportunity gaps be closed through teacher agency? Or, how do biology teachers, specifically, develop motivation and agency related to combat misconceptions about race with their biology instruction?
ADESSA: Asynchronous Discussions to Engage Students in Scientific Argumentation
The purpose of ADESSA (NSF DUE 1712261) is to explore various aspects of scientific argumentation as it occurs both face-to-face and on asynchronous online discussion boards. Online discussion boards are potentially valuable instructional tools, but little is known about the science learning that occurs via discussion boards. This project’s goal is to bridge the intellectual circles examining scientific argumentation and online learning. ADESSA is a collaboration with Dr. James Wolf in ISU’s School of Information Technology and Dr. Kristine Callis-Duehl at Danforth Plant Science Center.
Project EDDIE: Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry & Exploration
Project EDDIE (NSF DEB 1245707 and DUE 1821567), led by PI Catherine O’Reilly, comprises an interdisciplinary team of faculty and research scientists who have developed flexible classroom modules that aim to expose undergraduate students to real-world data analysis. Through engagement in EDDIE modules, students develop skills required to manipulate large datasets, conduct inquiry-based investigations, develop students’ reasoning about statistical variation, engage in authentic scientific discourse, and learn the nature of environmental science. Over the course of three years, we developed and field tested 10 classroom modules that cover lake ice phenology, lake metabolism, lake mixing, stream discharge, climate change, water quality, soil respiration, and nutrient loading.
Asterisks indicate student authors. All authorship decisions regarding articles arising from the RESIST lab follow the RESIST lab’s authorship policy.
Baldwin KE*, Darner R. (2021). Preservice science and mathematics teachers’ acculturation into communities of practice: A call for undergraduate research in science and mathematics teacher preparation. Journal of STEM Teacher Education, 56(1).
Jayasinghe I*, Darner R. (2021). Do emotions, nature relatedness, and conservation concern influence students’ evaluations of arguments about biodiversity conservation? Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental & Science Education. doi: 10.29333/ijese/9157
Sparks RA*. Darner R. (2020). Fostering nonscientist thinking on evolution concepts through the Teaching for Transformative Experiences in Science (TTES) model. Journal of College Science Teaching, 50(2), 41-48.
Sparks RA*, Baldwin KE*, Darner R. (2020). Using culturally relevant pedagogy to reconsider the genetics canon. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 21(1).
Stomberg JF*, Walder MR*, & Darner R. (2018). A laboratory activity to engage college students in habitat suitability analysis to teach conservation, ecology, and evolution. The American Biology Teacher. doi: 10.1525/abt.2018.80.6.438.
Soule D, Darner R, O’Reilly CM, Bader NE, Meixner T, Gibson CA, & McDuff RE. (2018). EDDIE modules are effective learning tools for developing quantitative literacy and seismological understanding. Journal of Geoscience Education. doi: 10.1080/10899995.2018.1411708.
Darner R. (2014). Influences on students’ environmental self-determination and implications for science curricula. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education 9, 21-39.
Darner R. (2011). An empirical test of self-determination theory as a guide to fostering environmental motivation. Environmental Education Research18(4), 463-472.
Darner R. (2009). Self-determination theory as a guide to fostering environmental motivation. Journal of Environmental Education 40(2): 39-49.