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Gillian Roehrig

science education

STEM Education Ctr/CEHD
320M VoTech
1954 Buford Ave
Tel: 612/625-0561

Office hours:
by appointment

Download Curriculum Vitae [PDF]

Research Summary

Science Teacher Development

My research and teaching interests are centered on understanding how teachers translate national and state standards into teaching events and curriculum in their classrooms. Teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about teaching and learning directly influence the specific teaching practices implemented by teachers. Of particular interest is how teachers, from preservice through induction and into the inservice years, represent “science as inquiry” in their teaching and how different induction and professional development programs can influence teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and classroom practices.

My early research focused on the constraints experienced by beginning teachers as they implement inquiry-based instruction in their classrooms and how these constraints can be mitigated through participation in a science-focused induction program. Key areas of interest have been the teaching beliefs and views of the nature of science held by the beginning teachers, and the role of curriculum in supporting beginning teachers.

This work was been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the University of Minnesota Digital Media Center. An outcome of this work has been the development of an online induction program for secondary science teachers, currently supported by a National Science Foundation Noyce grant, Project: Improving Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry Teaching (IMPACT), designed to recruit, prepare, and retain highly qualified teachers of physical science and mathematics in high needs schools. In 2012, the online Teacher Induction Network was award as a Promising Practice from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

An on-going research agenda involves professional development programs designed to promote inquiry-based classroom practices. For example, the BrainU project is a partnership with Jan Dubinsky in the Department of Neuroscience in collaboration with St. Paul Public Schools and the Anoka-Hennepin School District. This project is a five-year professional development program funded by SEPA (NIH) providing life science teachers in the St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin schools with inquiry-based models for teaching neuroscience.

STEM Integration

National policy documents call for the need to increase the number of students entering STEM fields have created a national push for improving science education. Professional societies, such as the National Academy of Engineering, call for new educational approaches that focus on the hands-on, interdisciplinary, and socially relevant aspects of STEM, specifically highlighting the role of engineering. In 2009, Minnesota was one of the first states to integrate engineering standards into existing state science standards and the recently released Frameworks for the Next Generation Science Standards (National Research Council, 2012) promotes the inclusion of engineering into science classrooms.

Although policymakers and educators are aware of the importance of STEM education, there is no common understanding or agreement on the nature of STEM education as an integrated or multidisciplinary endeavor. One of the biggest educational challenges for K-12 STEM education is that few general guidelines or models exist for using STEM integration approaches in the K-12 classroom. My work in this area has focused on understanding teachers’ perceptions of STEM integration and professional development models to assist teachers in implementing new STEM standards.

The Region 11 Mathematics and Science Teacher Partnership is a large-scale professional development program funded by the Minnesota Department of Education. 79 secondary science and mathematics teachers, 357 elementary teachers, and 119 middle and high life science teachers have already completed a five-day professional development series and professional learning community tasks. During 2012-2013, approximately 50 ninth-grade physical science teachers are participating in the STEM professional development series.

STEM Education in Native Communities

Of particular interest is how culturally-relevant STEM integration approaches to teaching and learning can improve educational outcomes for American Indian youth. Two grant-funded projects developed in partnership with reservation schools in northwestern Minnesota have guided this work.

Reach for the Sky: Integrating Technology into STEM outcomes for American Indian Youth (RFTS) is a partnership with schools on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Northwestern Minnesota funded by an NSF-ITEST grant. Over 200 American Indian students have learned modern science, math and engineering in a STEM Summer Academy through traditional American Indian stories and hands-on activities [Discover more at Head of the class, Research 2007].

Ah neen dush, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, was designed to support and mentor Head Start teachers on the White Earth Indian Reservation as they create engaging environments, that weave discovery-based science and mathematics activities with Ojibwe philosophy and tradition. This three-year professional development produced significant changes in STEM classroom practices for participating teachers.

Chemistry Education

As a former high school and college chemistry instructor, I continue to be interested in chemistry education. Thus, another research focus is chemistry education, with a current focus on students’ understanding of the particulate nature of matter.

My work in chemistry education has focused on students’ understanding of the particulate nature of matter, with a specific focus on students’ particulate level understanding of bonding through the use of a particulate drawing assessment tool. Using this too l we have inventoried student misconceptions related to bonding and our current research is exploring instructional approaches to repairing these misconceptions. The research group includes former graduate students Anne Kern, Nate Wood and James Nyachwaya and current students with a passion for teaching chemistry.

Selected Publications

  1. Roehrig, G.H., Michlin, M., Schmitt, L., MacNabb, C., & Dubinsky, J.M. (in press). Teaching Neuroscience to Science Teachers: Facilitating the Translation of Inquiry-Based Teaching Instruction to the Classroom. CBE- Life Science Education.

  2. Miller, B. G., Doering, A., Roehrig, G.H., & Shimek, R. (2012). Fostering Indigenous STEM Education: Mobilizing the Adventure Learning Framework through Snow Snakes. Journal of American Indian Education. 51(2), 66-84.

  3. Roehrig, G.H., Campbell, K.M., Dalbotten, D. & Varma, K. (2012). CYCLES: A Culturally-relevant Approach to Climate Change Education in Native Communities. Journal of Curriculum and Instruction. 6, 73-89

  4. Roehrig, G.H., Moore, T.J., Wang, H.-H., & Park, M.S. (2012). Is adding the E enough?: Investigating the impact of K-12 engineering standards on the implementation of STEM integration. School Science and Mathematics, 112, 31-44.

  5. Stohlmann, M., Moore, T.J., McClelland, J., & Roehrig, G.H. (2011). Year-long impressions of a middle school STEM integration program. Middle School Journal. 43 (1), 32-40.

  6. Roehrig, G.H, Dubosarsky, M., Mason, A., Carlson, S., & Murphy, B. (2011). We Look More, Listen More, Notice More: Impact of Sustained Professional Development on Head Start Teachers’ Inquiry-Based and Culturally-Relevant Science Teaching Practices. Journal of Science Education and Technology.20(5), 566–578.

  7. Dubosarsky, M., Murphy,B., Roehrig, G.H., Frost, L.C., Jones,J., & Carlson, S.C.
    ( with Nette Londo, Carolyn J.B. Melchert, Cheryl Gettel, and Jody Bement)(2011) Animal
    Tracks on the Playground, Minnows in the Sensory Table: Incorporating Cultural Themes to
    Promote Preschoolers’ Critical Thinking in American Indian Head Start Classrooms.Young
    Children, 66(5), 20-29.

  8. Nyachwaya, J., Mohamed, A.R, Roehrig, G.H., Wood, N., Kern, A.L., & Schneider, J. (2011). The Development of an Open-ended Drawing Tool: An Alternative Diagnostic Tool for Assessing Students’ Understanding of the Particulate Nature of Matter. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 11, 165-172

  9. Kern, A. L, Wood, N., Roehrig, G. H., & Nyachwaya, J. (2010). A Qualitative Report of the Ways High School Chemistry Students Attempt to Represent a Chemical Reaction at the Atomic/Molecular Level. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice,11, 165-172.

  10. Roehrig, G. H., & Garrow, S. T. (2007). The impact of teacher classroom practices on student achievement during the implementation of a reform-based chemistry curriculumInternational Journal of Science Education, 29, 1789–181.

  11. Roehrig, G. H., Kruse, R. A., & Kern, A. L. (2007). Teacher and school characteristics and their influence on curriculum implementation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44, 883-907.

  12. Luft, J. A. & Roehrig, G. H. (2007). Capturing Science Teachers’ Epistemological Beliefs: The Development of the Teacher Beliefs Interview. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 11(2), 38-63.

  13. Roehrig, G. H., & Luft, J. A. (2006) Does One Size Fit All?: The Induction Experience of Beginning Science Teachers from Different Teacher Preparation Programs. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43(9), 963-985.

  14. Roehrig, G. H. and Kruse, R. A. (2005). “The Role of Teachers’ Beliefs and Knowledge in the Adoption of a Reform-Based Curriculum” School Science and Mathematics, 105, 412-422.

  15. Kruse, R. A., & Roehrig, G. H. (2005). A Comparison Study: Assessing Teachers’ Conceptions with the Chemistry Concepts Inventory.Journal of Chemical Education, 82, 1246-1250.

  16. Roehrig, G. H., & Luft, J. A. (2004) Inquiry teaching in high school chemistry classrooms: The role of knowledge and beliefs. Journal of Chemical Education, 81, 1510-1516.

  17. Roehrig, G. H., & Luft, J. A. (2004). Constraints Experienced by Beginning Secondary Science Teachers in Implementing Scientific Inquiry Lessons. International Journal of Science Education, 23, 3-24.

  18. Luft, J. A., Roehrig, G. H., & Patterson, N. C. (2003) Contrasting landscapes: A comparison of the impact of different induction programs on beginning secondary science teachers’ practices and beliefs. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 77-97.

  19. Luft, J. A., Roehrig, G. H., & Patterson, N. C. (2002) Barriers and pathways: A reflection on the implementation of an induction program for secondary science teachers. School Science and Mathematics, 102, 222- 228.