With her background in laboratory research, two science degrees, and nearly two decades as a secondary science teacher, Barbara Crawford is one of the few researchers addressing the inconsistency between the nature of scientific inquiry and the classroom teaching of scientific inquiry, a critical issue raised by prominent national organizations. The National Science Foundation supports CrawfordÕs work. There is evidence that her work in the area of understanding and enhancing teachersÕ understandings of scientific inquiry and the nature of science, and in particular models and modeling, is having an impact at the international level. Dr. CrawfordÕs research findings connected to teachersÕ knowledge of models and modeling indicate that software scaffolds can support prospective teachers in building and testing dynamic models of scientific phenomena, something prospective teachers report never having done in their undergraduate science coursework. Dr. Crawford was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), and serves as chair of the NARST Publications Advisory Committee and Editor of the E-NARST News.
The ultimate goal of Dr. Crawford`s research is to facilitate the majority of students in science classrooms in developing images of science consistent with current practice, and in understanding what science is, what science is not, and the relevancy of science to society. In order to accomplish this goal, she has focused on researching teachers' knowledge and beliefs of scientific inquiry and the nature of science. Crawford believes that one of the most important issues in science education reform is how to move teachers towards an inquiry orientation. An assumption of her work is that teachers cannot change their current practice of teaching science as a rhetoric of facts to teaching science as inquiry, without having a deep understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry. Another assumption is that teachers need to hold beliefs that teaching science as inquiry is as important as teaching the subject matter of science (for example, the facts and principles of earth and space science, biology, physics, and chemistry). Dr. Crawford`s research examines viable ways to support prospective and practicing teachers' in developing knowledge of scientific inquiry and beliefs that teaching about scientific inquiry is important. An extension of this research connects with the teaching of evolution in public school classrooms. The context for professional development is situating teachers in authentic settings. Authentic settings include both scientific research settings and alternative experiences using learning technologies.
Dr. Crawford teaches courses in teaching and learning in agriculture science, mathematics, and science, as well as supervising field experience for students in the Cornell Teacher Education Program. Recently she developed a new course at Cornell, Innovative Teaching in the Sciences, that has received a great deal of interest in the Cornell Community. The course intends to engage graduate students from all areas of science in reading literature on how people learn science, and applying this to their own planning and critiquing of inquiry-based instruction.
Teaching Philosophy: As a teacher educator I believe that my personal philosophy of teaching and learning should inform my teaching, and that this philosophy should be visible to my students. My philosophy of teaching is intricately tied to my research on students’ and teachers’ understandings of the nature of science, and the development of inquiry-based pedagogy. Based on contemporary views of learning (students collaboratively build understanding, based on their own experiences), I strive to provide my students opportunity to articulate their individual views in pair and whole class discussion. In my courses students share and debate ideas and work with others to build on their existing knowledge. I believe that my role includes facilitating discussion, while contributing my expertise as needed. In this way I attempt to move students to the inner circle by making my instruction student-centered, instead of teacher-centered. Thus, an overarching framework for my instruction is the development of a community of learners in my classroom.
Teaching and Instructional Goals: Five goals guide my teaching and course development: 1) connecting theory to practice, and involving practitioners in planning and instruction; 2) engaging students in authentic work; 3) emphasizing reformed-based teaching strategies; 4) articulating an informed philosophy of learning and teaching science; and 5) developing a community of learners in the classroom. These five goals are prominent in my course syllabi.