One of the biggest challenges of education in general and in science education in particular is leading instructional processes in the classroom, which are based on educational research as well as practice and experience. It is therefore crucial to develop learning environments which are based on theories of learning and examine their effectiveness on different aspects of science learning. Since I believe in the importance of close relationship between research and practice, the first and foremost purpose of science education research in my view is to respond to the needs of educational field, and provide guidance based on theoretical knowledge and experience, designed to advance both theory and practice.
My research focuses on science teaching and learning in socio-constructivist learning environments, which are environments in which students construct their understanding based on previous experiences and knowledge, and through social interactions. I started specializing in these environments during my PhD research, and continue to study them from three interrelated aspects:
Teaching and learning within socio-constructivist environments - This aspect of my research focuses on understanding the teaching and learning processes in socio-constructivist science learning (e.g., inquiry, project-based learning - PBL, model-based learning ), and examining ways to promote meaningful learning within these environments. Learning through inquiry is highly recommended in the field of science education, as it concurrently promotes scientific understanding and acquisition of scientific practices, as well as fosters students’ motivation to learn science. However, inquiry-based environments, especially those that are designed to support students’ autonomy such as open inquiry, are not common in the science classroom. My research is based on scholarship on scaffolds and examines ways in which scaffoldings can be designed and embedded in the inquiry process to support students’ learning.
Leveraging opportunities for self-regulated learning in the science classroom - This aspect of my research focuses on examining the way science teachers can leverage opportunities for self-regulated learning during their instruction in the science classroom. Self-regulated learning refers to the proactive process that learners use to systematically focus their thoughts, feelings, and actions on the attainment of their goals, and through which they become masters of their learning and performance (Pintrich, 2000, 2004; Schunk & Zimmerman, 2012). Supporting students in developing their ability to self-regulate their learning is regarded as one of the major goals of education. As of today, much research in the field focused on students, and examined ways to support them in becoming self-regulated learners. These studies form the basis of my research, which is unique in that it focuses specifically on teachers, and on the ways in which they can encourage, support and develop self-regulated learners. This is because I see teachers as key players in raising awareness, encouraging, and developing these abilities.
Community-based science for social justice - This aspect focuses on science teaching as a means to promote informed, responsible and active citizenship, and support students in becoming agents of change in their community and promote health, environment, and social justice. In science education, the intersection between science and society is the focus of Vision II, where science learning aims to support students in understanding the usefulness of scientific knowledge in their everyday life. This contrasts with Vision I, which views the students as novice scientists and focuses on learning science content for later application and education. Recently, researchers conceptualized Vision III where science education aims to develop students as responsible citizens within society. Broadening the scope of responsible behaviors, justice-centered science education centers on the social transformation of science to enact justice and equips students to recognize and respond to social issues and inequities (Forsythe & Chan, 2021). My research focuses on development and research of authentic learning environments, which are based on the rich life experience of the students (Vision II), encourage active engagement in community life to promote individual and collective well-being based on an understanding of the social-political context (Vision III), and concurrently encourage development of scientific understanding and acquisition of scientific practices (Vision I).