Christina Schwarz

Professional Title
Associate Professor
About Me (Bio)
Christina Schwarz is an associate professor of science education in the Teacher Education department at Michigan State University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in science and science education and is the elementary science subject area leader for the elementary teacher preparation program. She is affiliated with the College of Natural Science’s Division of Science and Mathematics Education at MSU and leads the NSF-funded Modeling Designs for Learning Science (MoDeLS) project at MSU. Christina holds degrees in science, math, and technology education from the University of California at Berkeley (PhD and MA) and in earth, atmospheric and planetary science from MIT (BS). She spent several years conducting research in astronomy, designing curriculum materials for science learners and teachers, and working in classrooms with students and teachers. Her current work focuses on determining how to enable students and teachers to understand and engage in the practices of science – particularly model-based scientific inquiry. Other areas of expertise include student and teacher learning progressions, educational technology in science teaching and learning, and the role of curriculum materials in science teaching and learning. Christina has received the MSU College of Education Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award, is currently an associate editor for the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, and has published articles in journals such as Cognition & Instruction, Science Education, the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, the Journal for Science Teacher Education, and Science & Children.
Northwestern University (NU)

This project will provide an empirically-supported learning progression for a key scientific practice, scientific modeling. The specific instructional materials created as part of the project can serve as a model other developers can use to design materials supporting scientific modeling and other practices. The model for educative curriculum materials as a form of teacher support can be adapted to support teacher learning about modeling or other scientific practices in other curriculum materials.

Michigan State University (MSU), Grand Valley State University (GVSU)

The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, implemented in low-income preschool settings produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is determining the efficacy of the program on Science curriculum in two models, one in which teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control).

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Michigan State University (MSU)

This project investigates 3rd-grade students' model-based reasoning about hydrologic systems and how teachers scaffold students' engagement in modeling practices. The research builds upon existing modeling frameworks to guide the development and integration of a long-term conceptual modeling task into the Full Option Science System (FOSS) Water module. The data collected from this project can help inform science curriculum materials development and elementary teacher preparation efforts designed to foster reform-oriented, model-centered elementary science learning environments.

Northwestern University (NU)

This project will develop a learning progression that characterizes how learners integrate and interrelate scientific argumentation, explanation and scientific modeling, building ever more sophisticated versions of practice over time using the three common elements of sense-making, persuading peers and developing consensus. The learning progression is constructed through students’ understanding of scientific practice as measured by their attention to generality of explanation, clarity of communication, audience understanding, evidentiary support, and mechanistic versus descriptive accounts.