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Professor Lynn Bryan

Professor of Physics & Curriculum & Instruction

E-mail: labryan@purdue.edu
Office: Physics 227
Telephone: (765) 496-2923
Fax: (765) 494-0706

B.S., Chemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1986
M.S., Secondary Education, Indiana University, 1992
Ph.D., Science Education, Purdue University, 1997

Research Interests

  • Science teacher education, physics education
  • Sociocultural influences on teaching and learning, particularly in international and/or rural contexts
  • Evidence-based inquiry and reflection in teacher education
  • Teacher knowledge and beliefs
  • Qualitative research methods

Research Activities

  1. Matter and Interactions Collaborative Research: Institutionalizing a Reform Curriculum in Large Universities
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Grant
    Collaborating Purdue Faculty: Mark Haugan (PI, Physics) and Deborah Bennett (Co-PI, EDST)

    Description: The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Purdue University has positioned itself to be one of the leaders in revising introductory undergraduate curricula. In particular, they recently adopted a revolutionary course, Matter and Interaction (M&I), that focuses on the application of a small number of fundamental physical principles and their application to the atomic and molecular nature of matter. Through its atomic viewpoint, M&I integrates connections to chemistry, biology, materials science, electrical engineering, nuclear engineering, and computer engineering. This novel curriculum represents “physics for the 21st century” (Chabay & Sherwood, 2005, p. 2). Unlike traditional introductory physics courses, M&I emphasizes the unity of physics, as opposed to a large number of seemingly disconnected formulas.

    The M&I curriculum implementation involves rethinking not only what is taught in physics, but also how physics is taught. The essence of enacting /implementing the M&I curriculum is developing an understanding of how to "transform" the physics knowledge for the purpose of teaching—for the purpose of facilitating students’ learning of the physics concepts (Shulman, 1987). The activity of transforming M&I content is critical to the success of this novel curriculum, however it presents a significant challenge to physics faculty and teaching assistants, as they do no necessarily possess the knowledge and skills for implementing a course that relies heavily on methods for teaching based on a generative and revisionary view of learning. Teaching the M&I curriculum involves the use of questioning strategies, interactive discussions between instructor and students, small groups problem-solving, and other constructivist-based teaching methods.

    Several related research agendas concerning M&I are in progress: (a) large scale studies that examine students’ attitudes and perceptions of the course; (b) large scale studies comparing student learning in M&I versus “traditional” introductory level physics courses; (c) in depth examination of student understanding and reasoning in both M&I and non-M&I physics problem solving contests; and (d) M&I instructors’ (faculty and teaching assistant) development of professional knowledge for teaching M&I.

    Collaborating Institutions: North Carolina State University, Georgia Institute of Technology
  2. National Center for Learning and Teaching in Nanoscale Science and Engineering
    Role: Purdue University Professional Development Director; Leadership Team Member, National Science Foundation Centers Program Grant
    Collaborating Purdue Faculty: Nick Giordano (PI, Physics)

    Description: The multi-institutional National Center for Learning and Teaching (NCLT) was created with a focus on “learning and teaching though inquiry and design of nanoscale materials and applications” (Chang, et al., 2004). This interdisciplinary focus serves as an organizing principle for the NCLT, unifying its diverse agents and activities around the common task of learning and teaching the impact of nanomaterials on future industry and technologies. While a limited amount of nanoscale science education curricular materials are available for K-12 education, the field is so new that many critical questions remain unanswered, including: What are the “big ideas” in nanoscience that should be taught? What concepts are developmentally appropriate for various ages? What prerequisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions do science teachers need for teaching nanoscale science? Purdue’s interest in this project focuses on one component of the NCLT initiative—the creation and implementation of professional development programs in nanoscale science and engineering education (NCLT-PD).

    An interdisciplinary team of scientists, science educators, assessment specialists, and graduate students are collaborating in the design and implementation of the NCLT-PD experience. The NCLT-PD experience, involving both a summer institute and academic year follow-up activities, was designed with the following goals: (a) to provide grade 7-12 science teachers with an enhanced understanding of nanoscience; (b) to introduce teachers to inquiry-based methods for teaching nanoscience; (c) to provide grade 7-12 science teachers with a collection of suitable classroom activities that are resonant with national and state standards; (d) to assist teachers in developing their own nanoscience activities and projects for classroom use; (e) to enhance teachers’ awareness of the connections between nanoscience and the traditional sciences of chemistry, physics, biology, earth science, and mathematics. To reach these goals, the NCLT-PD drew upon a theoretical framework comprised of research findings in the following three areas of scholarship: (a) standards and reform based delivery models; (b) science teacher professional development; and (c) reflection in teacher education.

    While there are numerous ongoing research project related to the NCLT-PD project, a central focus of our work is framed by a design-based research approach (Bell, 2004; Hoadley, 2004; Sandoval & Bell, 2004). At this stage of the multiyear project, our intent is to examine the following questions:
    • Content: What “big ideas” in nanoscale science are most important for PD? What are teachers’ conceptions of nanoscale science? How must instructional materials for nanotechnology be designed or adapted to serve the needs of diverse learners and age groups?
    • Pedagogy: What are teachers’ conceptions of inquiry? How do teachers design inquiry-based nanoscale science instruction?
    • Pedagogical Content Knowledge: What prerequisite knowledge and skills are needed to teach nanoscience concepts, and how can we facilitate teachers’ development of PCK for teaching nanoscience concepts?

    NCLT Collaborating Institutions: Northwestern University, University of Michigan, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Laboratory, Alabama A&M University, Fisk University, Hampton University, Morehouse College, University of Texas at El Paso, West Point Military Academy

  3. Enhancing Elementary Teachers Knowledge and Skills for Teaching Inquiry-Based Science
    Role: Principal Investigator, Indiana Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnerships Program Grant
    Collaborating Purdue Faculty: Brenda Capobianco (Co-PI, Curriculum & Instruction)

    Description: Science teachers from Gary Community School Corporation in collaboration with faculty at Purdue University join forces to facilitate a three year integrated, intensive professional development program aimed at enhancing teachers’ knowledge and skills for teaching inquiry-based science. The project has four major objectives: 1) enhance teachers’ science content knowledge beyond the level that that are expected to teach; 2) increase teachers’ knowledge and practice of scientifically based research pedagogical methods and technology-based teaching strategies; 3) establish and sustain a bridge between professionals with science practitioners; and 4) enhance teachers’ capacity to be reflective practitioners. Project activities include a series of classroom- and standards-based summer courses where teachers engage in authentic, inquiry-based experiences in life, physical, and geo-science. Summer courses are supplemented by field-based investigations with local area science professionals including law enforcement authorities affiliated with crime lab analysis. Teachers will develop and implement inquiry-based lessons while engaging in reflective practice on their attempts at enhancing inquiry-based/learning cycle approaches. Academic year sessions include teachers’ engagement in additional content- and inquiry-based professional development, a collaborative action research network, on line discussions, and conference presentations. Sustainability efforts include training of teacher leaders, development of a project website, and a bank of inquiry-base science tools and resources.

    Collaborating Institutions: Gary Community School Corporation, Gary, Indiana

  4. Sino American Center for Science Education Research and Engagement
    Role: Principal Investigator, Asian Initiative Grant, Purdue University

    Description: We have established a cross-national research and engagement collaboration between Purdue University College of Science, Purdue University College of Education, Jiangsu Institute of Education (JIE) in Nanjing, China, and Peking University (PEK) in Beijing, China. The governing theme of this effort is rural community development through the enhancement of science education. As a central location for collaboration in China, we have created the Sino-American Center for Science Education Research and Engagement (SA Center) at JIE. The partners in this collaboration agree that we have an unprecedented opportunity to join forces with the top science teacher preparation institutions in China to carry out research and engagement projects that may transform science teaching and learning in China.

    The Chinese and U.S. partners in this collaboration have identified several research priorities to be conducted through the SA Center. The list below is a sampling of studies that both parties are interested in designing and conducting:
    • Measuring gain in rural teachers’ science content knowledge as a result of participation in science and pedagogy courses offered through the SA Center.
    • Measuring gain in student science achievement knowledge in classrooms in which rural teachers implement new curricula from science and pedagogy courses.
    • Measuring change in teachers’ and students views of the nature of science as a result of participation in science and pedagogy courses offered through the SA Center.
    • Longitudinal examination of the nature of rural schooling and the nature of science instruction in rural schools.
    • Longitudinal examination of cultural models and teacher beliefs influencing rural teachers’ translation of reform initiatives into classroom practices.
    Collaborating Institutions: Jiangsu Institute of Education, Peking University

  5. Teaching and Learning in Rural Mexico

    Description: As science education researchers investigate the development of science literacy in the socio-economically, culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms of contemporary society, they have examined ways in which students and teachers navigate and negotiate border crossings between home, school and science discourse communities Yore & Treagust, 2006). A goal of this research has been to develop teachers’ perspectives on and access to the broad and rich funds of knowledge (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005; Moll & Gonzalez, 1994) that their diverse students bring to the science classroom. Part of the full engagement of culturally and linguistically diverse students in science may involve culturally-situated worldviews and traditional knowledge about nature and naturally occurring events that are not clearly linked to the target outcomes of schools. A second goal has been to support teachers in facilitating students’ transitions between home and school contexts as they begin to take part in science discourse communities (Stevens, 2000) and the multiple literacies of science (Gee, 2004; Lemke, 2004).

    This urgency to address the science education of Latino students is part of our own experience. In the states where were we live, the Latino population has increased dramatically over the last decade. For example, between 1990 and 2000, Georgia had the third-highest increase in the Latino population of any state in the U.S. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). Furthermore, many of the immigrant children came to the U.S. from rural Mexican communities, as more than 40% of schools in Mexico are rural schools. In our work as teacher educators, we were challenged to find ways to support U.S. teachers who strove to develop science pedagogy that was relevant to the lives of Mexican immigrant children in their classrooms; i.e., pedagogy that considered their students language, culture and prior experiences with and knowledge about nature and naturally occurring events. Yet, a paucity of literature existed that focused on the sociocultural environments and personal experiences of children in rural Mexican schools—a context in which many Mexican immigrant children gained their schooling experiences prior to arrival in the U.S. Hence, we saw a need to conduct research that would support U.S. educational professionals in anticipating and facilitating diverse students’ passage into the potentially unfamiliar cultures of U.S. schooling and science. We saw no better place than to document the voices and practices of real teachers working in an authentic setting of rural Mexico. To this end, six years ago we began working with two teachers in two one-room, multi-grade schools in two rural communities: El Bosque and Montecito.

    Collaborating Institutions: University of Georgia, Benemérita Escuela Normal Veracruzana, and the schools and communities of El Bosque and Montecito in Veracruz.

Awards and Honors

  • 2005 Science Teacher of the Year, College Level, Georgia Science Teachers Association
  • 2004 University of Georgia Teaching Academy
  • 2002 Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, University of Georgia
  • 2001 D. Keith Osborn Faculty Senate Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2000 University of Georgia Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award
  • 1999 Outstanding Research Paper Award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching

Professional Experience

  • 2005-present Associate Professor Department of Curriculum & Instruction Department of Physics and Astronomy Purdue University
  • 2003-2005 Associate Professor Department of Science and Mathematics Education (2004-2005) Department of Science Education (2003-2004) The University of Georgia
  • 1997-2003 Assistant Professor Department of Science Education The University of Georgia
  • 1994-1997 Research Assistant Department of Curriculum and Instruction Purdue University
  • 1992-1996 Graduate Instructor Department of Physics and Astronomy Purdue University
  • 1989-1992 Teacher: Physics, Independent Scientific Research, Environmental Science Park Tudor School Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 1987-1988 Assistant Pharmacologist Eli Lilly and Company Indianapolis, Indiana

Professional Service

  • Board of Directors, National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 2006-present
  • Board of Directors, Purdue Education Alumni Association, 2006-present
  • Board of Directors, Montessori School of Greater Lafayette, 2006-present
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2000-2004; 2006-present
  • Editorial Board Member, Educational Researcher, 2004-present
  • Editorial Board Member, Science Teacher Education Section, Science Education, 2004-present; 1997-2000
  • Chair, External Policy and Relations Committee, National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 2006-present

Professional Affiliations

  • National Association for Research in Science Teaching
  • Association for Science Teacher Education
  • American Educational Research Association
  • American Association for Physics Teachers
  • National Science Teachers Association

Selected Publications

  1. Bryan, L., & Recesso, A. (2006). Promoting reflection among science student teachers using a web-based video analysis tool. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education , 23, 31-39.
  2. Bryan , L., Allexsaht-Snider, M., & Antonio, C. (accepted). Community contexts for understanding nature and naturally occurring events in rural schools in Mexico . L1: Educational Studies in Language and Literature .
  3. Bryan, L., & McLaughlin, H. J. (2005). Teaching and learning in rural Mexico : A portrait of student responsibility in everyday school life. Teaching and Teacher Education , 21, 33-48.
  4. Bryan, L. A. (2003). The nestedness of beliefs: Examining a prospective elementary teacher's beliefs about science teaching and learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40 (9 ), 835-868.
  5. Bryan , L. A., & Atwater , M. M. (2002). Teacher beliefs and cultural models: A challenge for teacher preparation programs. Science Education, 86, 821-839.
  6. Keys, C., & Bryan, L. A. (2001). Co-constructing inquiry-based science with teachers: Essential research for lasting reform. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38, 631-645.
  7. Bryan, L. A, & Abell, S. K. (1999). The development of professional knowledge in learning to teach elementary science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36, 121-140.
  8. Abell, S. K., Bryan, L. A., & Anderson, M. A. (1998). Investigating preservice elementary science teacher reflective thinking using integrated media case-based instruction. Science Education, 82, 491-509.
  9. Abell, S. K., & Bryan, L. A. (1997). Reconceptualizing the elementary science methods course using a reflection orientation. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 8, 153-166.