I partner with K-12 science teachers and other educators in educational and professional learning contexts to support student engagement in ongoing, collective sense-making about scientific phenomena. To do so, students need opportunities to grapple with their own and others' ideas about phenomena and to engage in locally meaningful versions of practices like argumentation, experimentation, and model-building in service of refining ideas. In turn, how educators work with students' ideas is critical.
My primary line of research focuses on how educators responsively take up the ideas and experiences students bring to bear in science classrooms, in ways that pursue and build on students' contributions. Through classroom-based studies and studies of professional learning environments, I seek to understand what affords or constrains responsiveness and how. I also aim to better understand students' experiences of the science classroom when their ideas are pursued, and implications for diverse learners' disciplinary identification and participation.
Learning Labs: Using Videos, Exemplary STEM Instruction and Online Teacher Collaboration to Enhance K-2 Mathematics and Science Practice and Classroom Discourse (NSF DRL 1417757). Partners across the University of Washington, the Teaching Channel, and Northwestern University are designing and studying online and blended Learning Labs for inservice K-2 teachers on the disciplinary practices of modeling and argumentation. We are drawing on key elements of practice- and video-based learning in our design, with an emphasis on analyzing student thinking in relation to instructional practice and engaging cohorts in iterative cycles of planning, enactment, and reflection on common tasks and practices across classrooms. (Check out two blog posts and project videos on scientific modeling and argumentation in the early grades!)
Research: Robertson, A., & Richards, J. (2017). Teacher sense-making about being responsive to students' science ideas: A case study. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 5(4), 314-342. [PDF]
Practice: Richards, J., Johnson, A., & Nyeggen, C. G. (2015). Inquiry-based science and the Next Generation Science Standards: A magnetic attraction. Science and Children, 52(6), 54-58.