My research responds to a need to better understand, instruct, and assess students’ knowledge and the use of technology-enabled models for doing so. Science learning encompasses content knowledge and scientific reasoning skills. My first independent research projects revealed several important, and in some cases, unexpected findings with regard to students’ content knowledge and scientific practices when interacting with data in text, hands-on, and with computer simulations. This has generated important empirical and theoretical questions about where students’ science knowledge originates and how it subsequently develops.  Projects often center on the cognitive underpinnings of students’ learning, either from educational technologies (e.g., computer simulations) or as assessed with technological tools (e.g., computer-based, dynamic instruments or computer simulations). 


Students' knowing enterprise in STEM fields (Lab-based research)

Psych-SEBS: A scale for assessing students' psychology-specific epistemological beliefs. 

Psychology-specific epistemological beliefs (EBs) are thought to impact students' knowledge acquisition within the field of psychology. This line of research resulted in the development and validation of the Psychology-Specific Epistemological Belief Scale (Psych-SEBS), a short self-report instrument measuring psychology-specific EBs.

Identifying prescribed sources of knowledge in STEM disciplines and evaluating sources as “better” or “worse”

Students' evaluations of sources of science evidence provide the foundation for creating and communicating supported arguments. However, little research has considered students’ evaluations of multiple, varied sources of evidence. This work used a computer-based task to measure students’ evaluations of evidence ranging from field observations to empirical tests.

Children's thoughts on knowing

This work examines the development of epistemological understanding with regards to source of knowledge evaluations from early childhood to adolescence. Rather than merely assessing a child's ability to weight evidence as being more or less correct, this study investigates developmental shifts in what children identify as the best source(s) of knowledge.


Applications to education settings (Classroom-based research)

Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM (AMAYS)

The Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM (AMAYS) program is designed to engage traditionally underserved middle-school students in performance-based relevant experiences that: (1) incorporate the STEM-related skills, knowledge and practices represented in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) workforce and (2) motivate and build participant interest in pursuing related ICT career trajectories. In summer and afterschool AMAYS programs in five sites, participants will create ICT products as preparation for statewide ICT competitions. Students will collaborate with each other and with mentors from business and industry, who will be recruited through a partnership with the Technology Association of Georgia. The project will be implemented through the After-School All Stars program in Atlanta, which operates in multiple sites in the Atlanta, Georgia in close collaboration with the public schools.

Simulations as Scaffolds in Science Education

Our recently published book outlines key issues for addressing the grand challenges posed to educators, developers, and researchers interested in the intersection of simulations and science education. To achieve this, the authors explore the use of computer simulations as instructional scaffolds that provide strategies and support when students are faced with the need to acquire new skills or knowledge. The monograph aims to provide insight into what research has reported on navigating the complex process of inquiry- and problem-based science education and whether computer simulations as instructional scaffolds support specific aims of such pedagogical approaches for students.

Problem-based & Inquiry-based science education