To engage teachers of math and science and prepare young people for the jobs of the future, we must strengthen STEM curriculum and make instruction and learning more fun and more relevant to real world problem-solving. This requires an understanding of how children learn and a rigorous focus on what works in the classroom; both are priorities in the School’s approach to tackling the challenges of STEM education.
The School of Education houses several faculty and programs, such as the Sacramento Area Science Project and UC Davis Math Project, that are concerned with, conduct research in, and provide professional learning in STEM education.
Science is not boring, so why do so many middle and high school students think it is? According to Cindy Passmore, assistant professor and an expert on science education, students most often experience science in school as the memorization of facts and procedures with little practical utility or intellectual interest.
“This results in an impoverished view of science as an intellectual enterprise,” said Passmore.
For Rebecca Ambrose, the key to teaching math to children lies in an understanding of how they solve problems before anyone has taught them.
“Kids use informal strategies and can figure things out in very interesting and sophisticated ways. What we observe about how they approach mathematical problem solving can inform the basis for teachers’ instruction,” said Ambrose.
Alexis Patterson, 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.
Heidi Ballard is the Founder and Faculty Director of the Center for Community and Citizen Science. You can find more information about her past and current projects, and sign up for occasional updates at the Center’s website.
Tobin White studies the use of technology in teaching and learning mathematics. He has a particular interest in using mobile computing to support novel approaches to engaging learners with STEM content and practices. Using a design-based research approach, he develops collaborative problem-solving tools and activities in order to investigate intersections between conceptual and social dimensions of learning. A former high school mathematics teacher himself, he has also worked for more than a decade in teacher preparation.