Faculty Profile EMPHASIS AREA: SCI/AG. Science Education, Groupwork, Race and Schooling, Social Emotional Intelligence, Social Justice Education, Literacy in Science

Alexis Patterson Williams

Associate Professor and Chair of Teacher Education

Alexis Patterson Williams, Ph.D., joined the School of Education in July 2015 as an Assistant Professor in science education. She is currently a CAMPOS Faculty Scholar and is excited to work with her cohort to develop a research center that focuses on increasing the participation of women of color in STEM related fields.

Dr. Patterson Williams’ research lies at the intersection of equity studies, social psychology, and science education. Recent projects have focused on equity issues that arise when students work together on group projects in science and the role social-emotional skills play in facilitating equitable interactions between students. Driving her research is the desire to study the challenges facing those in the field of science education in order to reframe science learning in terms of diversity and access.

Dr. Patterson Williams is a native Californian and received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and her Master’s degree from Stanford University. She received her doctorate in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education in Science from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. Prior to graduate school, she worked in Oakland Unified School District as an assistant director of an after school program, as a middle school science teacher, and as an intervention instructor at an elementary school. Dr. Patterson Williams earned her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from CSU East Bay.


Ph.D., Stanford Graduate School of Education, Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education 2015

M.A., Stanford Graduate School of Education, Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies 2009

B.A., University of California, Berkeley, Geography and Psychology 2005

Research Interests

Science Education, Groupwork, Race and Schooling, Social Emotional Intelligence, Social Justice Education, Literacy in Science, Argumentation and Dialogic Instruction


Patterson Williams, A. & Gray, S. (forthcoming). Teaching for justice: The (W)holistic science pedagogy. The Science Teacher.

Patterson Williams, A. & Gray, S. (forthcoming). Promoting equity and justice in science classrooms via the (W)holistic Science Pedagogy. M. Winn & L.T. Winn (Eds). Transforming Teaching and Learning through Restorative Justice for Harvard Education Press: Cambridge, MA.

Patterson Williams, A. (in press). Sustaining disciplinary literacy in science: A transformative, just model for teaching the language of science. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Patterson Williams, A.D., Athanases, S., Higgs, J., & Martinez, D. (in press). Developing an inner witness to notice for equity in the fleeting moments of talk for content learning. Equity and Excellence in Education.

Patterson, A. & Gray, S. (2019). Teaching to transform: The (W)holistic science pedagogy. Theory into Practice. DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2019.1626616.

Patterson, A. (2019). Equity in groupwork: The social process of creating justice in a science classroom.Cultural Studies in Science Education, 14(2), 361-381.

Patterson, A., Roman, D., Friend, M., Osborne, J., & Donovan, B. (2018). Reading for meaning: The foundational knowledge every teacher of science should have. International Journal of Science Education, 40(3), 291-307.

Patterson, A., Morrison, D., & Schinel, A. (2017). What’s science got to do with it? Possibilities for social justice in science classroom teaching and learning. S. Pennell, A.S. Boyd, H. Parkhouse, & A. LaGarry (Eds), Possibilities in practice (pp.145-158). Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang US. 

Szu, E., Osborne, J., & Patterson, A. D. (2017). Factual accuracy and the cultural context of science in popular media: Perspectives of media makers, middle school students, and university students on an entertainment television program. Public Understanding of Science, 26(5), 596-611.

Brown, B. A., Henderson, J. B., Gray, S., Sullivan, S., Donovan, B., Patterson, A., & Wagstaff, W. (2015). Jumping through hurdles: On contingencies and African-American science pathways. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.

Osborne, J. & Patterson, A. (2012). Authors’ response to “For whom is argument and explanation a necessary distinction? A response to Osborne and Patterson” by Berland and McNeill. Science Education, 96(5), 814-817.

Osborne, J., MacPherson, A., Patterson, A., & Szu, E. (2012). Introduction in M.S. Khine (Ed.) Perspectives on scientific argumentation: Theory, practice and research. (pp. 3-15). Springer Netherlands.

Osborne, J. & Patterson, A. (2011). Scientific argument and explanation: A necessary distinction? Science Education, 95(4), 627-638.

Working Papers

Patterson, A. & Lotan, R. (Reviewed). Developing Social and Emotional Skills to Support Equitable Group Interactions in the Classroom. Target journal: Teaching and Teacher Education.

Patterson Williams, A., Fay, M., & Romero, V. (in progress). Considering Scientific Literacy [Review of the book Learning science, by Barbara Schneider et al.]. Teachers College Record.

Patterson Williams, A. & Adam-Wiggins, K. (in progress). Addressing Challenges in Collaborative Science Spaces: Re-Evaluating Off-task Talk. Target Journal: Science Education.

Patterson Williams, A., Gray, S., & Romero, V. (in progress). (W)holistic Science Pedagogy: A multi-dimensional commitment to just, science instruction. Target Journal: Journal of Research in Science Teaching.

Fellowships, Grants & Awards

PLACE with CAMPSSAH Post-Tenure Start-Up Award (2022)

The Theory Into Practice 2019 Best Article Award, Theory Into Practice, Journal, 2019

Faculty Development Award for heavy involvement in University and community service, University of California, Davis

IASCE’s Elizabeth Cohen Outstanding Thesis/Dissertation Award, The International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education (IASCE) 2018

Dean’s Research Excellence Award, UC Davis’ School of Education 2018                        

Teachers as Learners Grant, James S. McDonnell Foundation 2017

Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science (CAMPOS) Faculty Scholars Program, UC Davis 2015

Diversity Dissertation Research Opportunity Grant, Stanford University 2014

Jhumki Basu Scholars Program, National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) 2012

Professional Affiliations

  • National Association for Research in Science Teaching
  • American Education Research Association
  • International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education
  • Science Educators for Equity Diversity and Social Justice
  • National Science Teachers’ Association

Recorded Presentations

Presentation: Bringing Students Whole-Selves to the NGSS: A Conversation with Dr. Gray and Dr. Patterson Williams (2020) - https://youtu.be/b8DHAOLxSxQ

What the world needs now is…transformation (W)holistic Science Pedagogy, a transformative approach to instruction (2018) - https://youtu.be/ydSdRn_zqLM

Log in