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Fred Finley

Associate Professor
320 L Learning and Environmental Sciences Building
1954 Buford Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55108

Ph.D., Michigan State University
science education

Office hours:
by appointment.

Areas of Interest

Exploring students’ conceptions of the earth systems and human interaction with the earth, civic engagement studies in Thailand and the U.S.

Research Interests

A number of years ago, while I was teaching science to a very diverse group of high school students, I became curious about how students learn about the natural world. A couple of ideas have shed light on this question. The first is that what people learn about the natural world results from the interaction between what they already believe and what they are being taught. The second idea is that what people learn is substantially influenced by the social and cultural context in which they are participating. These ideas are supported by studies on learning and cognition, the history and philosophy of science and my cross-cultural experiences primarily in Thailand. I use knowledge from these two fields and my international experiences to develop both my research and teaching.

I am presently working on understanding people’s interdisciplinary knowledge of the Earth as interacting natural and social systems. I’m involved in the development of a Web-based assessment tool called the Environmental Image Assessment. It presents images from around the world along with a series of questions intended to reveal what people understand and how they feel about their environment and their interactions with it. The research on this project is being conducted in the U.S. and Thailand. We plan to use the results to develop Web-based instruction that will take into account the prior knowledge and cultural background of the students.

The courses I typically teach are CI 5537, Principles of Environmental Education, CI 5535 Foundations of Science Education and CI 5533 Current Developments in Science Teaching.

Selected Publications

  1. Finley, F. N. and Enochs, L. (2006) Impacts of Science Standards on Curriculum and Instruction in Earth Science Education, in Sunal, D. W. and Wright, E. L. The Impact of State and National Standards on K-12 Science Technology. Information Age Publishing, Grenwhich, CT

  2. Finley, F. N. (2002) Environmental and Science Education in the U. S.: Lessons from the successful Sciences.Chulalongkorn Educational Review 8(2), January.

  3. Finley, F. N., & Cogan, J. J. (1993). Global environmental education curricula: Interacting natural and social systems as an organizing theme. School of Education Review, 6, 131-141.

  4. Finley, F. N., & Heller, R. (1991). Earth science education for the 21st century. National Center for Earth Science Education, American Geological Institute.