Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning
Teaching and Learning
Susan Kirch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Professor Kirch is a science educator and a biologist. Her research includes: investigations of teaching and learning science in urban elementary schools, and studies of teacher learning in the areas of science and inclusion. Kirch has participated in a variety of initiatives designed to bring teachers, K-12 students, educational researchers, and scientists together to study access to science and the nature of scientific inquiry, and she has published chapters and articles on school funding, inclusion, feminist pedagogy, co-teaching, and discourse in elementary school classrooms in journals such as Science Education, School Science and Mathematics, Cultural Studies of Science Education, and the Journal of Science Teacher Education among others. Dr. Kirch currently studies how elementary school children learn the nature of scientific evidence through activities that feature contemporary questions and issues in science. (The Scientific Thinker Project: Teaching and Learning the Nature of Scientific Evidence in Elementary School is funded by the NSF.)
In addition to her research program, Dr. Kirch has taught courses for undergraduate and graduate (MA, MS, and PhD) students including: biology, immunology, neurobiology, life science for teachers, environmental literature, research issues in science, math and technology education, and general science curriculum and instruction courses.
Dr. Kirch began her career as a molecular and cellular biologist, and has published research papers in Science, Development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the European Molecular Biology Organization Journal among others. She received a bachelor's degree with honors in biochemistry from Mount Holyoke College in 1989, and completed her doctorate in cellular and developmental biology at Harvard University in 1996. Dr. Kirch first became interested in the science education of teachers and young people when she participated as a scientist in the classroom with the UCSF Science and Health Education Partnership from 1998-2001, when she was an NIH post-doctoral scholar and HHMI fellow studying the development of the nervous system at the University of California, San Francisco.
- Kirch, S.A. and Amoroso, M.A. (in press). Being and Becoming Scientists Today: Challenging Everyday Assumptions in Science Education to Reclaim a Learner Perspective. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
- Kirch, S.A. (2013). Instructional design that leads the development of young scientists. In R. Reutzel (Ed.) Handbook of Research-Based Practice in Early Childhood Education. pp. 326-347. New York: Guilford Press.
- Kirch, S.A. and Stetsenko, A. (2012). Studying scientific knowledge: Third-grade students research using claims and evidence in science. Science and Children, Summer: 44-49.
- Kirch, S.A. and Siry, C. (2012). "Maybe the algae was from the filter": 'Maybe' and similar modifiers as meditational tools and indicators of uncertainty and possibility in children's science talk. Research in Science Education 42 (2): 261-280.
- Kirch, S.A. (2010). Understanding scientific uncertainty as a teaching and learning goal. In B. Fraser, C. McRobbie, and K. Tobin (Eds.) Second International Handbook of Science Education. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
- Kirch, S.A. (2010). Identifying and resolving uncertainty as a cultural tool in science: A comparative analysis of scientists and elementary science students at work. Science Education 94: 308-355.