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Connecting Advances in Learning Research and Teacher Practice: A Conference about Teacher Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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About The Speakers > Elizabeth Davis

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Elizabeth Davis

Associate Professor; Chair of Elementary Teacher Education,
University of Michigan


Betsy Davis is a science educator and teacher educator whose research interests include teacher and student learning. Some particular interests include beginning and experienced elementary teachers, teachers learning to engage in ambitious science teaching, and the roles of curriculum materials and teacher education in promoting teacher learning.

One major focus of Davis's work is a new National Science Foundation-funded project—ELECTS, for Elementary Educative Curricula for Teachers of Science—that explores the use of educative curriculum materials in supporting elementary teachers in ambitious science teaching. The project is a collaboration with Annemarie Palincsar and colleague Sean Smith at Horizion Research, Inc. ELECTS uses the Science, Technology, and Children curriculum materials for upper elementary, and is developing additional educative supports to promote further teacher learning. The research explores the overarching research question: How does teacher use of educative curricula relate to (a) teachers' learning, (b) teachers' practice (and thus students' opportunities to learn), and (c) students' learning of science content and about scientific practices across scientific disciplines?

Another major focus of Davis's work is grounded in the Elementary Teacher Education program. The School of Education has been working for several years to reimagine teacher education. In the undergraduate elementary teacher education program, a new program is being piloted. The work on the program is driven by the desire to have a more deliberate and detailed focus on practice, as well as on content knowledge for teaching and the ethical obligations of the profession. The aim is to help interns learn how to do the work of ambitious elementary teaching.

Davis's previous work has included several National Science Foundation-funded projects. The CASES project focused on how preservice and new elementary teachers learn to teach inquiry-oriented science and how curriculum materials and technology can support those teachers’ learning. Davis also helped lead the Center for Curriculum Materials in Science, a center for teaching and learning focused on research and development around the use of curriculum materials in promoting teacher and student learning. Davis also served as a co-principal investigator for the MoDeLS project. Throughout this work, Davis's research integrates aspects of science education, teacher education, and the learning sciences.

Among other courses, Davis teaches a graduate course on the development of expertise in science teaching and, in the undergraduate elementary teacher education program, the elementary science methods course and Managing to Teach. She received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998, and received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers at the White House in 2002 and the Jan Hawkins Early Career Award in 2004. Important publications have focused on educative curriculum materials (with Joe Krajcik, in Educational Researcher in 2005) and the challenges faced by beginning elementary and secondary science teachers (with Debra Petish and Julie Smithey, in Review of Educational Research in 2006). She is an editor of the Elementary School Journal .

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