Presentation by Professor Kate McNeill


Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm


Room 252, Erickson Hall

Dr. Katherine McNeill will present on recent reform documents and research including a focus on argumentation, making the case that students should be able to construct and defend their claims using evidence as well as critique arguments presented by others. Also to engage students in argumentation, teachers themselves need support to develop new knowledge and teaching skills. Educative curriculum materials offer one potential avenue for support; however, creating these resources is challenging, and numerous external and internal factors cause teachers to enact curricula in different ways. To better support teachers' curriculum enactments, we need to understand teachers' decision making around scientific argumentation.  The title of her talk is:  Teachers’ scientific argumentation instruction: Factors that impact instructional practices during a curriculum enactment.

In this talk, Dr.McNeill will present research focused on teachers’ argumentation instruction as they pilot a digital middle school science curriculum.  Specifically, she will present results from two related studies.  The first study investigated factors that impacted the teachers’ argumentation instruction through the analysis of teacher surveys and phone interviews.  The second study examined teachers’ enactment of the curriculum and curricular decisions through the analysis of videos tapes and teacher interviews.  Both studies suggest that while teachers saw argumentation as important, that they had a wide range of understanding of what counts as strong argumentation instruction in science classrooms. 

Katherine's Bio:

Katherine L. McNeill is an Associate Professor of science education at Boston College. A former middle school science teacher, she received her doctorate in science education from the University of Michigan.  Her research focuses on two overlapping areas: 1. Scientific explanations and arguments; and 2. Science curriculum design and implementation.  Through the generous funding of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Carnegie Corporation of NY, she has worked on a number of projects focused on the design of middle school and high school science curriculum developed to support scientific inquiry practices.  Currently, she is on the leadership team with colleagues at the Lawrence Hall of Science to design a digital middle school science curriculum that provides teachers with multimedia supports around argumentation.  Dr. McNeill has numerous publications around this work including two books, numerous book chapters, and articles in a variety of journals including the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, and The Journal of the Learning Sciences.  In 2011, she received the Early Career Research Award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST). She has also conducted numerous workshops at the annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and for school districts including the Detroit Public Schools, the Denver Public Schools and the Boston Public Schools.