115J Miller

Research Interests

Science & Mathematics
Teacher Education & Research

Jessica Thompson


Dr. Thompson's research, teaching, and service are grounded in research-practice partnerships with teachers and school districts focused on educational justice in K-12 science. Through partnerships with science and multilingual teachers and coaches, principals and district leaders, we are developing an understanding of critical and cultural approaches to ambitious science teaching and learning. Dr. Thompson also has a background in developing after-school programs that learn from and support girls who are racially and linguistically minoritized in schools by understanding their intersectional identities and their engagement in scientific inquiry (dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women; 2007 Selma Greenberg Dissertation Award). She majored in Biology and Chemistry and taught high school and middle school science as well as drop-out prevention courses for eight years in North Carolina and Washington State. She has taught secondary and elementary science teaching methods courses and Culturally Responsive Math and Science Teaching at UW.

Current Projects

Preparing Teachers to Facilitate Asset-based Science & Literacy Discourse in Dual and Multilingual Elementary Classrooms. Teachers as Learners Grant, James S. McDonnell Foundation (PI). Addressing a pressing need for equitable disciplinary instruction for bilingual/multilingual students, this project focuses on how novice teachers develop and implement asset-based science and literacy discourse practices and shift beliefs about bilingual/ multilingual students, language use, and language learning over time.

Building Professional Capital while Advancing Ambitious and Equitable Elementary Science Teaching (C2AST) with a District-Wide Networked Improvement Community Model. NSF (PI). This is a Research-Practice Partnership between the UW and all 74 elementary schools in Seattle Public Schools. We are using a NIC model to generate knowledge about K-5 critical and cultural approaches to ambitious science teaching. 

Past Projects

K-2 Modeling and Argumentation with Blended Learning Labs, NSF (Co-PI). In partnership with the Teaching Channel, Northwestern, and Elham Kazemi at UW, we developed online Learning Labs that support elementary teachers in developing teaching practices aligned with NGSS. This year we are partnering with Seattle Public Schools to apply the model to 30 teacher leaders and 350 K-5 teachers across the district. Videos developed in partnership with teachers (scientific argumentation & scientific modeling), and a description of our professional learning model (NSF STEMforAll video 2017).

Building Capacity for the Next Generation Science Standards through Networked Improvement Communities, NSF (PI). This design-based implementation project supports the development of local improvement networks with science teachers, coaches and principals in 15 schools and the development of an innovation hub. The community sought to improve teaching and learning for all students, especially multilingual learners. NSF STEMforAll videoResearch That Matters publication. Video from AERA conference.

PASTL: Partnership for Ambitious Science Teacher Leaders, WA state MSP (PI). In partnership with Puget Sound, Olympic and Northwest Educational Service Districts, and Seattle Pacific University, and the UW (Thompson, Windschitl, Lohwasser), this project developed teacher leaders across WA state, who continue to support capacity building for regional improvement in ambitious and equitable science teaching.

STEM Academy, Race To The Top (PI). The STEM Elementary Specialists program prepared 20 5th and 6th-grade teachers to teach science, mathematics, and engineering. We revised units of instruction and engaged teachers in working on ambitious and equitable practices during a summer academy with 5th graders and ongoing professional learning throughout the year. 

Starting Strong, Race To The Top (PI). Similar to the STEM Academy we supported 150 K-1 teachers in developing strong NGSS-aligned science curricula and teaching practices.

Developing Networked Improvement Communities for High-Quality Mathematics and Science Teaching, WA STEM (Co-PI with Elham Kazemi). This is an efficacy and development project taking a whole-school approach. We are developing job-embedded professional development models that invest in social and material resources and tools to support teachers, school and district leaders in improving a technical math and science core, K-12. 

Science STARS: Nurturing Urban Girls’ Identities through Inquiry-Based Science (Co-PI with April Luehmann, University of Rochester and Angie Calabrese Barton, Michigan State). We provided urban teen girls an opportunity to participate in rich, inquiry-based investigations and develop their identities as scientists and agents of change in their communities. We are applying ambitious and equitable practices in an out-of-school space and are supporting youth in developing documentaries about advocacy and science. 

TOOLS4TEACHERS. Tool Systems to Support Progress Toward Expert-Like Teaching by Early Career Science Educators, NSF 2006-2010. This project developed online tools that support novice secondary science teachers in developing ambitious science teaching practices. 

TOOLS4MENTORS. In 2010 Dr. Thompson was awarded a fellowship from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation: Buffering against Regression: Supporting Co-Learning between Teacher Candidates and Cooperating Teachers. Thompson worked with a team of Cooperating teachers and district level science coaches to develop tools and routines for mentor teachers supporting novices in learning ambitious practices. We ran summer institutes and monthly meet-ups for folks in in six local school districts.

Lenses on Learning Video Club. In 2009 Thompson founded a video club, Lenses on Learning, with Melissa Braaten to support in-service teachers in developing a learning community that works toward ambitious equitable practices. The project was first funded with a grant from the National Educational Association, then through a State Math/Science Partnership grant with Seattle Public Schools.

Ph.D., University of Washington, 2006
Centers and Initiatives



Thompson, J. Mawyer, K., Johnson, H., Scipio, D. & Luehmann, A. (2020). Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Approaches to Ambitious Science Teaching Pedagogies. In Stroupe, Hammerness & McDonald (Eds.). Preparing science teachers through practice-based teacher education. Harvard Education Press. 

Thompson, J. & Larkin, D. (2020). Partnering with schools and districts to improve ambitious science teaching. In Stroupe, Hammerness & McDonald (Eds.). Preparing science teachers through practice-based teacher education. Harvard Education Press.

Windschitl, Thompson, Braaten & Stroupe. (2020). Situating the work: The role of core practices in science teacher preparation and the story of Ambitious Science Teaching. In Stroupe, Hammerness & McDonald (Eds.). Preparing science teachers through practice-based teacher education. Harvard Education Press.

Thompson, J., Richards J., Shim, S-Y., Lohwasser, K., Chew, C., Sjoberg, B. & Morris, A. (2019). Networked PLCs: Footholds into Creating and Improving Knowledge of Ambitious and Equitable Teaching Practices in a RPP. AERA Open.

Thompson, J., Hagenah, S., Barchenger, C, & McDonald, S (2019). Improving Model-based Instructional Practices and Tools with a Professional Learning Community. Science Education. 103(6), 1423-1455.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., Braaten, M. & Stroupe, D. (2019). Sharing a Vision, Sharing Practices: How Communities of Educators Improve Teaching. Remedial and Special Education. 40(6), 380-390.

Shim, S-Y, Thompson, J., Richards, J. & Vaa, K. (October 2018). Supporting young students in scientific argumentation and modeling through Agree/Disagree T-charts. Science and Children. 56(1), 39-47.

Hagenah, S., Colley C., & Thompson J. Funneling versus Focusing: When talk, tasks, and tools work together to support students' collective sensemaking. (August 2018). Science Education International. 29(4), 261-266.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J. & Braaten, M. (2018). Ambitious Science Teaching. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Hagenah, S.& Thompson, J. Sharing the expertise: Middle school girls and community members as solution and communication partners (2016). LEARNing Landscapes, 10(1), 125-134.

Thompson, J., Hagenah, S., Kang, H., Stroupe, D. Braaten, M., Colley, C., & Windschitl, M. (2016). Rigor and Responsiveness in Classroom Activity. Teachers College Record, 118(5).

Kang, H., Windschitl, M., Stroupe, D. & Thompson, J. (2016). Designing, launching, and implementing high-quality learning opportunities for students that advance scientific thinking. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 53, 1316–1340. [Selected by the NARST Publications Advisory Committee for the NSTA Research Worth Reading initiative]

Thompson, J., Hagenah, S., Lohwasser, K  & Laxton, K. (2015). Problems with ceilings and problems without: How mentoring communities frame and solve problems around ambitious and equitable teaching and learning. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(4), 363-381.

Thompson, J., Kramer, A., Carlson, L. Holladay, L., & Sjoberg, B. (Fall 2014). Shifting the intellectual authority in science classrooms from teachers to students: How novice teachers use tools to analyze and advance practice. Networks: An On-Line Journal for Teacher Research.

Thompson, J. (2014, July 14). Getting students to talk out ideas works in science, too. Guest Editorial, Seattle Times.

Thompson, J. (2014). Engaging girls’ socio-historical identities in science. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 23(3), 392-446.

McDonald, M., Kazemi, E., Kelley-Petersen, M., Mikolasy, K., Thompson, J., Valencia, S., & Windschitl, M. (2014). Practice Makes Practice: Learning to Teach in Teacher Education.  A theme issue of the Peabody Journal of Education, 89(4), 500-515.

Kang, H., Thompson, J., Windschitl, M. (2014) Creating Opportunities for Students to Show What They Know: The Role of Scaffolding in Assessments Tasks. Science Education, 98, 674-704.

Thompson, J., Windschitl, M. & Braaten M. (2013). Developing a theory of novice teacher practice. American Educational Research Journal, 50, 574-615.

Windschitl, M. & Thompson, J. (2013). The Modeling Toolkit: Making Student Thinking Visible with Public Representations. The Science Teacher, 80(6).

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., & Stroupe, D. (2012). Identifying big ideas in science. Science education news.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., Braaten, M. & Stroupe, D. (2012). The beginner’s repertoire: Proposing a core set of instructional practices for teachers of science. Science Education, 96 (5), 878–903.

Furtak, E.M., Thompson, J., Braaten M. & Windschitl, M. (2012). Learning progressions to support ambitious teaching practices. In A. Alonzo & A. Wenk Gotwals (Eds.), Learning Progressions in Science: Current Challenges and Future Directions, pp. 405-434. Sense Publishers: Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J. & Braaten, M. (2011). Ambitious Pedagogy by Novice Teachers: Who Benefits From Tool-Supported Collaborative Inquiry into Practice and Why? Teachers College Record, 113(7).

Thompson, J., Braaten, M., Windschitl, M., Sjoberg, B., Jones, M., & Martinez, K. (2009). Examining Student Work: Evidence-based learning for students and teachers. The Science Teacher, 76(8), 48-52.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J. & Braaten, M. (2008). How novice science teachers appropriate epistemic discourses around model-based inquiry for use in classrooms. Cognition and Instruction, 26(3), 310-78. 

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., & Braaten, M. (2008). Beyond the Scientific Method: Model-Based Inquiry as a New Paradigm of Preference for School Science Investigations. Science Education, 92(3).

Windschitl, M. & Thompson, J. (2006). Transcending simple school science investigations: Can pre-service instruction foster teachers’ understandings of model-based inquiry? American Educational Research Journal, 43(4), 783-835.

Thompson, J. & Windschitl, M. (2005).  “Failing girls”: Understanding connections among identity negotiation, personal relevance & engagement in science learning from underachieving girls. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 11(1), 1-26.

Thompson, J. (2002). Situating gender identities in science engagement. In M. Weinburgh & S. L. Jones (Eds). Proceedings of Gender and Science Education International Conference. Situating Gender and Science Education in Local Contexts. Fort Worth, TX: Institute of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education.


My courses focus on the relationship between theory and practice. In the science teaching methods (both elementary and secondary) and research methods courses, I emphasize three related phenomena—becoming a culturally responsive science educator; teaching for understanding of science phenomena and the epistemic nature of science, and inquiring into one’s own teaching as a core professional activity. I use tools and practices that align with these themes to help practitioners focus on how and why students engage and learn; I believe this line of inquiry should be at the center of ambitious and equitable instruction and networks oriented to this end.