WELCOME TO THE HOME PAGE OF
Dan Shepardson
Professor of
Geoenvironmental and Science Education

 

Departments of Curriculum and Instruction and

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Purdue University
 

ABOUT THIS SITE

This web site provides an overview of my research interests and  professional activities.  The site is divided into three areas: research and scholarship, professional development programs for teachers, and alternative assessment in science.  Individuals interested in fostering collaboration in these areas, participating in professional development programs, or interested in graduate assistantships in these program areas may contact me at:

dshep@purdue.edu

SITE LINKS

Research Interests and Activities

Professional Development Programs for Teachers

Alternative Assessment in Science

Research Interests and Activities

My primary area of scholarship focuses on children's understandings of and ways of reasoning about science phenomena and concepts.  This research program is unique: it investigates children's understandings of and ways of reasoning about science phenomena.  It also looks at the role of social interactions in mediating the understandings children construct of and ways they think about science phenomena.  This area of research also looks at children's conceptual frameworks and how these are challenged and restructured by encounters with anomalous data from science investigations.  This area of research emphasizes the development of instruction that challenges children's understandings of and ways of reasoning about science phenomena and concepts.  This research program has expanded to investigate the role of children's self-produced science journals in their developing understandings of science phenomena.  The results of this research has direct application to classroom practice at the elementary and middle school level.  A description of these areas of research follows.
 
Children's Understandings and
Reasoning about Science

This area of research deals with children's thinking and understandings in small-group, inquiry-based science activities that challenge their understandings.  Specifically, the effect of social interactions on children's  ways of thinking and construction of meaning, how their understandings influence other children's understandings and thinking about science phenomena.  This program area also looks at children's frameworks for thinking and interpreting data, especially data that is anomalous to their interpretive frameworks.

Selected Publications

 

Shepardson, D.P. (2002).  Bugs, butterflies, and spiders:  Children’s understandings about insects.  International Journal of Science Education, 24(6), 627-643.

Shepardson, D.P. & Britsch, S.J. (2001).  The role of children’s journals in elementary school science activities.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(1), 43-69.

Shepardson, D.P. (1999).  Learning science in a first grade science activity: A Vygotskian perspective.  Science Education, 83, 621-639.

Shepardson, D.P. & Moje, E.B. (1999).  The role of anomalous data in restructuring fourth graders' frameworks for understanding electric circuits.  International Journal of Science Education, 21, 77-94.

Moje, E.B. & Shepardson, D.P. (1998).  Social interactions and children's changing understanding of electric circuits, in B. Guzzetti & C. Hyndy (Eds.), Studies in conceptual change:  Theoretical perspectives.  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Moje, E.B. & Shepardson, D.P. (1998). Social interactions and children's changing understanding of electric circuits:  Exploring unequal power relations in “peer” learning groups, in B. Guzzetti & C. Hyndy (Eds.), Studies in conceptual change:  Theoretical perspectives.  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Shepardson, D.P (1997).  Of butterflies and beetles:  First graders’ ways of seeing and talking about insect life cycles.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34, 873-889.

Shepardson, D.P. (1997).  The nature of student thinking in life science laboratories. School Science and Mathematics, 97, 37-44.

Shepardson, D.P. (1996).  Social interactions and the mediation of science learning in two small groups of first-graders.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33,159-178.

Shepardson, D.P. &  Moje, E.  (1994). The nature of fourth graders' understandings of electric circuits.  Science Education, 78, 489-514.

Children's Self-Produced Journals as a Tool for Thinking and Understanding

This is a collaborative research program with Professor Susan Britsch, Literacy and Language Education, designed to investigate children's use of journals as a medium for integrating their emergent literacy skills with their understandings of science phenomena and concepts.  Specific research questions guiding this research area are:  How does teacher structuring of science activities influence children's strategies of journal use in their construction of science understandings?  How does the nature of children's social interactions in small-group science activities influence the content of their journals and, in turn, their scientific understandings and literacy development?  How does children's use of journals mediate their science understanding?  How can children's science journals best be used to assess their science understandings?

Children's Literacy and Science Project (CLASP).  The project works with elementary teachers on the integration of science and literacy using children's self-produced science  journals.  Funded by the Toyota USA Foundation:

Children's Literacy and Science Project

Selected Publications

 

Shepardson, D.P. & Bristch, S.J. (2003).  Analyzing children’s science journals, in Susan Koba (Ed.), Mixing it up: Integrated, interdisciplinary, intriguing science in the elementary classroom (pp. 52-59).  Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press.

Shepardson, D.P. & Britsch, S.J. (2001).  The role of children’s journals in elementary school science activities.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(1), 43-69.

Shepardson, D.P. & Britsch, S.J. (2000).  Analyzing children’s science journals.  Science and Children, 38(3), 29-33.

Shepardson, D.P. & Britsch, S.J. (1997).  Children's science journals:  Tools for teaching, learning, and assessing.  Science and Children, 34, 13-17 & 46-47.

(A child's self-produced journal page illustrating their understanding of the fruit flies life cycle: adult, egg, and worm.  By assessing the child's journal page, instruction may be planned that challenges the child's science understandings.)
 

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Alternative Assessment in Science

Work in the area of alternative assessment has focused on collaborating with classroom teachers on changing their assessment practice and the development of assessment tasks.
 
Alternative Assessment in Science

This area focuses on developing teachers' knowledge and understanding of assessment in the context of the science content and the nature of the learner.  Developing teachers' pedagogical content assessment knowledge.  The goal of this area is to assist teachers in changing their assessment practice.

Selected Publications

Shepardson, D.P. (2001).  Assessment in science: A guide to professional development and classroom practice (Ed.).  Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Shepardson, D.P. & Jackson, V. (1997).  Developing alternative assessments using the Benchmarks.  Science and Children, 35, 34-40.

Shepardson, D.P. & Adams, P.E. (1996).  Coming to know and understand alternative assessment in science.  Journal of Science Teacher Education 7, 267-282. 

Shepardson, D.P. & Britsch, S.J. (1997).  Children's science journals:  Tools for teaching, learning, and assessing.  Science and Children, 34, 13-17 & 46-47.

Sample Assessment Task

Science assessment task development. This site contains information about our science assessment task development project, "Teacher Enhancement Through Alternative Assessment Task Development."  The site also contains examples of teacher developed assessment tasks and student work samples.  A sample of an assessment task developed by a teacher participant is displayed below.

A Mountain Emergency
by
Dave Emery
Memorial High School, Elkhart, Indiana

What a time for this to happen!  Here I am with my brother returning from a nice two days at a friend's hunting cabin.  The day started so nice, a beautiful sunrise, great weather, a lovely wooded trail along a small, muddy stream back to the small village at the base of the mountains. We had only gone about half way, maybe 20 miles, when trouble began.  That angry she-bear (sow) chased us quite a distance until she decided that we really weren't a threat to her cubs.  We had dropped our packs when the chase began and that had probably saved us as the bear stopped to explore and then destroy our packs and their contents.   All I could save was this old tea kettle, my pocket knife, a book of matches, and my plastic canteen.  My brother had only the med pack on his belt left along with his car keys and some money.  I thought we would just hike on after we circumvented the bear and cubs when my brother started to have a medical emergency.  He needed his heart medicine.  All he needed was an injection of his medicine to stave off a heart attack.  Unfortunately, all he had left was the medicine in pill form; a clean syringe with needle; a sterile, plastic, mixing bag; and a small measuring cup.  The bear had broken his bottle of distilled water.  What could I do to help?  Only 5 milliliters of distilled water was needed.  We had plenty of water from the stream, but no distillation apparatus to remove any microscopic contaminants, and certainly no tubing of any sort.  I tried to make my brother as comfortable as I could under the shade of the tree.  It was beautiful without a cloud in the sky but no help for miles around.  I searched my pockets for anything that would help.  In my brother's jacket I found a tea bag.  As I looked at this, my tea kettle, and the contents of my brother's med kit, I tried to think of an answer.  There would not be enough time to get help.  All I needed was 5 mL of distilled water to make the solution to save my brother.  I thought I would make him a cup of hot tea but I didn't have a cup.  Of course, the canteen could serve as a cup.  Why, in a situation like this, one has to improvise.  Suddenly, I had the answer.  I could distill a little water with what I had available. 

Purpose:  Design a means of producing 5 mL of distilled water for the medical emergency given materials available.  Draw your setup, label your parts, explain why it would cause evaporation and condensation to produce distilled water.  Think back to the experience you gained distilling the water in class and any other experiences you might have had when water vapor condensed into a liquid.  Your work will be judged on how well it could distill water and remove contaminants, using only the materials at hand.  Have your paper initialed by the teacher and then go to the lab tables and try it.  If you make any changes; draw, label, and explain your new setup and the scientific processes involved.  For guidance, check the grading rubric! 

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Professional Development Programs
for Teachers

Professional development programs for teachers of science have received over 2.9 million dollars in support from state-level Eisenhower programs and the National Science Foundation.  These projects aim to enhance teachers' content understandings and improve classroom teaching and assessment practice, thus improving student learning.  These projects engage teachers in science and classroom-based research.
 
Selected Past Funded Programs for
Teachers of Science

Project WISE:  Women in Science and Education (1988-89).  State Board of Regents EESA Title II program.  This project linked with elementary teachers, and was aimed at enhancing teachers' knowledge and understanding about classroom-based gender issues and practice.  Work from this project resulted in the following publications:

  • Shepardson, D.P. & Pizzini, E.L. (1991).  Teaching teachers:  Gender bias in the classroom--A Self-Evaluation.  Science and Children, 29, 38-41.
  • Shepardson, D.P & Pizzini, E.L (1992).  Gender bias in female elementary teachers' perceptions of the scientific ability of students. Science Education, 76, 147-153.

INLAB:  INtegrating LABoratory instruction and assessment (1992-1996).  National Science Foundation, Teacher Enhancement.  The aim of INLAB was to enhance middle school teachers' science content understanding, laboratory instruction, and assessment knowledge and practice.  Project 2061 materials were used as development tools by the teachers.  The following publications evolved from the work of this project:

  • Shepardson, D.P. & Adams, P.E. (1996).  Coming to know and understand alternative assessment in science.  Journal of Science Teacher Education 7, 267-282.
  • Shepardson, D.P. & Jackson, V. (1997).  Developing alternative assessments using the Benchmarks.  Science and Children, 35, 34-40. 

Teacher Enhancement Through Alternative Assessment Task Development (1997-98). Indiana Commission for Higher Education.  The project's goals were to enhance high school science teachers' understanding of assessment and change their assessment practice.  The following web site was developed to detail the professional staff development process and displays examples of the assessment tasks developed by teachers:

Science Assessment Task Development

 
Funded Programs for 
Teachers of Science 

(Teachers collaborating on the development of a conceptual framework for environmental science.)

Using Local Geoenvironmental Research Projects to Achieve National Science Education Standards: A Pilot Summer Course for In-Service Teachers (1998-2000).  National Science Foundation. The project improves the quality of science teaching by exposing science teachers to inquiry-based pedagogy and alternative assessment.  The project also engages teachers in geoenvironmental research.  Visit the project's web site to learn more:

Local Geoenvironmental Research

Selected Publications

Shepardson, D.P., Harbor, J., Cooper, B., & McDonald, J. (2002).  The impact of a professional development program on teachers’ understandings about watersheds, water quality, and stream monitoring.  Journal of Environmental Education, 33(3), 34-40.

Cooper, B.C., Shepardson, D.P., & Harbor, J.M. (2002).  Assessments as teaching and research tools in an environmental problem-solving program for in-service teachers.  Journal of Geoscience Education, 50(1), 64-71.


(In the field with teachers learning about macroinvertebrates as indicators of environmental quality.)

Environmental Science Institute for Indiana Teachers (1999-2000).  Indiana Commission for Higher Education.  The project improves the quality of science teaching by developing science teachers' content, pedagogy, and assessment knowledge through the investigation of environmental issues.  For a detailed description of this program visit the project's web site:

Environmental Science Institute for
Indiana Teachers

Selected Publications

 Shepardson, D.P., Harbor, J., Cooper, B., & McDonald, J. (2002).  The impact of a professional development program on teachers’ understandings about watersheds, water quality, and stream monitoring.  Journal of Environmental Education, 33(3), 34-40.

Cooper, B.C., Shepardson, D.P., & Harbor, J.M. (2002).  Assessments as teaching and research tools in an environmental problem-solving program for in-service teachers.  Journal of Geoscience Education, 50(1), 64-71.


ENVISION: A Regional Environmental Science Institute for Teachers (1999-2004).  National Science Foundation, Teacher Enhancement.  The ENVISION  institute for teachers enhances teachers' content, pedagogy, and assessment knowledge in the areas of water and watersheds, rural environments, and urban and built environments.  Check project  web site for future information and for an application to participate in the Institute's programs:

 

ENVISION

Selected Publications

Shepardson, D.P., Harbor, J., Bell, C., Meyer, J., Leuenberger, T., Klagges, H., & Burgess, W. (2003).  ENVISION: Teachers as environmental scientists. Journal of Environmental Education, 34(2), 8-11.

Bell, C., Shepardson, D.P., Harbor, J., Klagges, H., Burgess, W., Meyer, J., & Leuenberger, T. (2003).  Enhancing teachers’ knowledge and use of inquiry through environmental science education.  Journal of Science Teacher Education, 14(1), 49-71.

Shepardson, D.P., Harbor, J., Bell, C., Meyer, J., Leuenberger, T., Klagges, H., & Burgess, W. (2002).  Envision: Inquiry-based environmental science.  Science Scope, 26(2), 28-31.

Klagges, H., Harbor, J., Shepardson, D.P., Bell, C., Meyer, J., Burgess, W., & Leuenberger, T. (2002).  Teachers as learners examine land-use change in the local environment using remote sensing imagery.  Journal of Geography, 101, 137-143.

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