mark windschitl | science teaching and learning



I'm a Professor of Science Teaching and Learning here at the University of Washington, and a former middle school science teacher. Currently, our research group is studying the tools and conditions necessary to develop expert-like pedagogy in early career teachers.

Doing what

Our research group operates on the principle that children have the right to learn rigorous science at every grade level, from a highly trained professional. Skilled and caring teachers are vital in this effort and we must develop ways to support these individuals across a career spectrum.

Current Projects

NSF Symbol

Tools 4 Teaching

Our research group (includes co-PI Dr. Jessica Thompson, Melissa Braaten,David Stroupe, Christine Chew, Biz Wright) has recently received funding from NSF ($1,900,000) for a five-year project to develop and study a system of tools and tool-based practices for early career and pre-service secondary science teachers that support transitions from novice to expert-like pedagogical reasoning and practice. These tools include:

  • a video-based learning progression for teaching Model-Based Inquiry,
  • discourse guides for core conversations in classrooms,
  • rapid assessment models to tap student thinking, and
  • rubrics to evaluate students' abilities to construct evidence-based explanations in science.

Our proposed system of tools will serve as a model for making pre-service teacher training and induction clearly focused on student learning. This system of tools is designed to be responsive to all students in the classroom. Runs from 2008-2013.

Teachers' Learning Trajectories Project (TLT)

Currently our research group (with Jessica Thompson and Melissa Braaten) is conducting a longitudinal study, funded by Carnegie, of how novice teachers develop pedagogical reasoning around sophisticated forms of inquiry for seconday students. We are tracing our participants' development across four contexts: their teacher education coursework, student teaching, sessions of analysis of their pupils' work, and their early years of professional work.

Noyce Teaching Scholars

This National Science Foundation project capitalizes on a recently introduced revision of the University of Washington's teacher preparation program, "Teachers for New Era", and benefits from existing collaborations among science and mathematics departments in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and of Education, and three of the largest school districts in Washington: Seattle, Highline, and Renton. Thirty-six scholarships are being awarded, 9 each year over 4 years, balanced between mathematics and science majors. Awardees participate in systematic induction activities over the first two years of professional service.



Recent publications

Windschitl, M. Thompson, J., & Braaten, M. (forthcoming) Ambitious Pedagogy by Novice Teachers? Who Benefits From Tool-Supported Collaborative Inquiry into Practice and Why. Teachers College Record.

Windschitl, M. (2009). Cultivating 21st Century Skills in Science Learners: How Systems of Teacher Preparation and Professional Development Will Have to Evolve. Paper commissioned by National Academy of Science’s Committee on The Development of 21st Century Skills. February 5, Washington DC.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J. & Braaten, M. (2008). How novice science teachers appropriate epistemic discourses around model-based inquiry for use in classrooms. Cognition and Instruction, 26(3), 310-378.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J. & Braaten, M. (2008). Beyond The Scientific Method: Model-Based Inquiry As A New Paradigm of Preference for School Science Investigations. Science Education.

Windschitl, M. (2007). Three critical questions about science teacher preparation. Paper commissioned by National Research Council’s Committee on Teacher Preparation. February 15, Washington DC.

Windschitl, M. & Thompson, J. (2006) Transcending simple forms of school science investigations: Can pre-service instruction foster teachers' understandings of model-based inquiry? American Educational Research Journal, 43(4) ,783-835.

Windschitl, M. (2006). Why we can’t talk to one another about science education reform. Phi Delta Kappan, January, 349-356.