Programs and Courses

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Main Office

Curriculum & Instruction
School of Education
210 Teacher Education Building
225 North Mills Street
MadisonWI  53706

Tel: 608/263.4600
Fax: 608/263.9992

or by contact form

Graduate Programs in Science Education

Our graduate program in science education contributes to the attainment of a variety of professional goals for students from enhancing existing teaching skills to the development of research competencies in the field of science education that will prepare students for careers coordinating science instruction at the district level or as science education faculty at the university level.

Ph.D. Program

The goal of the Ph.D. Program in Curriculum and Instruction with a Science Education emphasis is to prepare scholars who are capable of contributing to the research literature in the field of science education. In order to realize this broad goal, we tailor the Ph.D. program to the needs of individual students based on their background in the sciences, the history/philosophy/sociology of science, education, science education research, and science teaching at the pre-college level.

Students are expected to take courses in the areas below:

  1. Research Methods. The particular courses will vary somewhat but normally are drawn from research methods courses in C&I and the Department of Educational Policy Studies.

  2. Science Studies. Unless students come with a strong background in this area, it is expected that they take some courses in the history, philosophy, or sociology of science. Ideally, students will complete a Ph.D. minor in this area. Details can be found on the Science Studies website.

  3. Science Education Seminar (C&I 960). All students enroll in this seminar at least once, although most will take it on a recurring basis since it provides a forum to share and critique the work of both other graduate students and science education faculty.

  4. Faculty Areas of Specialization. All students are expected to take course work with each of the science education faculty members.

Masters Program

The masters program requires 12 credits in C&I (mostly in the science education area) and an additional 12 credits from any department on campus including C&I. The program culminates with an extended, research-based project and a final oral defense. The goals of the program are tailored to meet the professional needs of individual students but they tend to include one or more of the following:

  1. Provide professional development opportunities for in-service teachers to grow in their understanding of science teaching and learning.

  2. Provide course work in the sciences that allow the student to deepen their understanding of a particular science content area or to add to an existing certification.

  3. Introduce students to the field of educational research as a basis for continuing graduate work beyond the MS.

In all our programs, we seek to accommodate students with interests in elementary as well as middle and high school science teaching. Over the course of the program, students are expected to develop a deeper understanding of both the disciplinary content and practice of a given scientific discipline as well as, through their course work in science education, the important issues in science teaching, particularly those related to teaching and learning with understanding.

Students are expected to take the Seminar in Science Education (C&I 960) for 2-3 credits and at least 2 seminars in the specific areas of expertise of the various science education faculty. Since the seminar offerings are typically on a two-year cycle, the courses a student ends up taking is often a function of timing.

• For information about how to apply for M.S. or Ph.D., visit the Applying to Graduate Programs page.

Representative Courses

C&I 732 - Foundations of Science Education
This course uses a historical perspective to examine various problems in American science education in their social context. It looks at questions such as: What are the problems that science teaching as an institutionalized activity seeks to redress in American society? What is the perceived state of school students (among any variety of characteristics—social, intellectual, cultural, etc.), and to what ends has the science classroom been designed to alter those student characteristics, and how

C&I 734 - Science Studies and Science Education.

This course is a reading seminar designed to explore a fairly large body of literature concerning the nature of scientific practice taken from diverse fields such as the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. It will examine how that literature has been drawn on by science educators both for informing the construction of particular views of science in the school curriculum, as well as for establishing new research frameworks in student learning.

C&I 960 - Science Education Seminar
This seminar, which science education graduate students are expected to take every semester, is designed to provide a forum for the sharing and critical examination of current research in science education. Its aim is to provide a collegial and collaborative environment in which to develop skills in critical, yet constructive, evaluation of education research and to improve individual student research and writing as a result of this peer evaluation.

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