Danielle Ross, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Science Education Graduate Programs Coordinator
I maintain a strong commitment to teaching, in part because I love to teach and in part because I believe science education can help students gain the knowledge necessary to become informed citizens. As a teacher, I strive to engage, inspire, and challenge my students, whether those students are K-12 learners or college level learners. It is my belief that every student is capable of feeling a passion for science through collaborating with their peers in an exploration of science phenomena and experiences. A science classroom must be a place where learners have opportunities to investigate and notice patterns about scientific phenomena and whereby they engage in explanation to account for those patterns. I believe science learners should have opportunities to experience scientific phenomena and use those experiences to build conceptual understandings through discourse of the discipline.
The same commitment to designing learning contexts for teachers that propels my research also propels my teaching. Embedded within this goal is my commitment to support novice teachers in learning how to effectively draw upon various curriculum materials and resources to plan lessons that engage all science learners. An important focus of my teaching involves the selecting or designing of cognitively demanding tasks, or activities, where students engage in investigation, representation, and/or explanation and engage in discourse around those tasks. For it is these challenging tasks and the student talk that emerges during these tasks that have the greatest impact on student learning.
My research focuses broadly on exploring the relationships between secondary science teachers’ professional identities, instructional materials, school contexts, and the enacted curriculum. I am interested in pedagogical design related to planning for rigorous and equitable discussions in science because a teacher’s ability to design and plan robust lessons influences the productive engagement of students in science and also the ways in which those students view science disciplines. I am particularly interested in how teacher preparation and professional development around instructional models impacts these relationships and enables particular student-teacher interactions within the enacted curriculum. My interests include designing learning contexts for teachers, how teacher preparation can support novice teachers’ identities as instructional designers, how novice teachers learn to leverage instructional materials and other resources to craft rigorous science lessons for K-12 students, and the extent to which teachers learn to plan lessons that build on student’s scientific thinking and the experiences in which they engage that support that learning. With research experience in elementary and secondary science education, my work has been presented at several professional conferences, including the Association of Science Teacher Education Annual conference, the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, the National Science Teachers Association, the International Society of the Learning Sciences, and the American Educational Research Association.