PhD Alumnus Joins Science Education Faculty at San Francisco State University
Written Spring 2007
After working toward a PhD and serving as a teacher educator for nearly six years at UC Davis, Larry Horvath will begin his career as an assistant professor of science education at San Francisco State University.
“It’s going to be hard to leave,” said Horvath. “This is an amazing community and the people I have worked with have been an important part of my growth as both a researcher and educator.”
One of the key attributes of the School for Horvath has been the connection between research and practice. “This is not typical and not easy to do.”
Horvath entered the education program in fall 2001, a year before the campus established the School of Education. At that time, there were 11 professors in the PhD program (now there are 22) and only five other entering PhD students. Even through all the “growing pains,” Horvath said he has “always enjoyed the collegial sense of belonging” among the faculty and his peers.
Among many important faculty relationships, two of the most influential have been Cindy Passmore, his academic advisor and dissertation chair, and Rick Pomeroy, his mentor and colleague in teacher education.
One of the key attributes of the School for Horvath has been the connection between research and practice. “This is not typical and not easy to do,” he said.
Horvath began his career as a science teacher in the late 1980’s, teaching middle school and high school, including teaching six years overseas, three in Rome and three in Istanbul. Many of his students were high achieving and represented more than 40 different countries.
“I loved middle school because with that age group it is all about engagement,” said Horvath, “Once you get them excited, you can really focus on how they come to understand science concepts. I believe teaching middle school really made me a better teacher overall.”
“My heart is still in California public education, though. This is where the need for quality teachers is the greatest. I think in my new position, I can really play a role to increase the pipeline for those students interested in teaching science, especially with the populations many of our student teachers will be serving—urban schools with a lot of English learners and high poverty” said Horvath.
Horvath’s dissertation research focused on how pre-service science teachers think about inquiry in the context of their own teaching. According to Horvath, inquiry helps students “focus their own thinking, empowers them to understand how scientists do science and can make the content more relevant.”
He approaches his teaching in the same way. “It’s my job to help science credential students develop a strong image of the type of science teacher they want to be, to believe in themselves, and to have the tools to sustain themselves in the profession.”