RAVIT DUNCAN, PhD
2007 KSTF Research Fellow
Graduate School of Education
Dr. Ravit Duncan developed her passion for biology and the environment at an early age, attending outreach programs at the Weizmann Science Institute in Israel throughout middle school and high school. Her interest in teaching and teaching processes also developed early. As a doctoral student of learning sciences at Northwestern University, Ravit was part of the National Science Foundation Center for Curriculum Materials in Science. Her dissertation investigated how students learn genetics and what sorts of instructional materials can best promote new understandings of this science.
In her research, Ravit is engaged in applying to teachers the learning principles that had been largely focused on students. “Learning progressions are a powerful idea that can be used in the field of teacher education.” She also believes that today’s teaching should take new forms. “I want to change the focus from memorization of facts to an understanding of how scientific theories are developed. We can find almost any fact online in a matter of seconds. Science education needs to prepare students to understand the discoveries of tomorrow, rather than the facts of today.”
In addition to being a KSTF Research Fellow, Ravit is a National Academy of Education postdoctoral fellow. She received her master’s in biological sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her bachelor’s in science from the Hebrew University at Jerusalem.
Ravit’s project incorporates a special focus on pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). “Although PCK is a critical ingredient of effective teaching, we know little about how it develops over time or how the various elements of a teacher preparation program contribute to its development.” By using learning progressions to map out a trajectory of learning over extended periods of time, Ravit hopes to develop better guidelines for supporting learners as they advance in their understanding.
To empirically validate progression, Ravit uses micro-genetic methods to conduct detailed analyses of changes in pre-service teachers’ knowledge and practices; as well as the influence of particular pedagogies and activities on teachers’ learning and development over time. The project develops and validates a learning progression for the PCK of pre-service secondary science teachers, incorporating the development of and engagement in teaching practices that foster scientific model building and argumentation skills.
Awards and Recognitions
NAEd/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral fellowship award (2007); Dissertation Year Fellowship from Northwestern University (2004); Outstanding Teaching and Service award from the University of Illinois at Chicago (1998)
- Duncan, R. G., Rogat, A., & Yarden, A. (in press). A learning progression for deepening students’ understanding of modern genetics across the 5th-12th grades. Special issue on Learning Progressions for the Journal of Research in Science Teaching.
- Jordan, R., & Duncan, R. G. (2009). Student teachers’ images of science: Singular or plural? Journal of Biological Education. 43 (2), 62-70.
- Jordan, R., Gray, S., & Duncan, R. G. (2008). Teachers and scholarship: Self-definition of teachers in the scientific enterprise. Education and Society. 26(3), 33-44.
- Duncan, R. G. (2007). The role of domain-specific knowledge in generative reasoning about complicated multileveled phenomena. Cognition and Instruction, 25(4), 271-336.
- Duncan, R. G., & Reiser, B. J. (2007). Reasoning across ontologically distinct levels: Students’ understandings of molecular genetics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 44(7), 938-959.
- Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Duncan, R.G., & Chinn, C. A. (2007). Why problem-based learning and inquiry learning are not minimally guided: On assumptions and evidence. Educational Psychologist, 42(2), 99-107.
We have hundreds of teacher education programs and they are all done differently. In my research I study how teachers learn in these programs in order to isolate what works and what doesn’t, so that we can develop more effective teacher preparation.