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Episode 02 – Colleen Megowan – “Collaborative Sense Making”
Episode 21st June 2019 • Science Modeling Talks • Mark Royce
00:00:00 00:38:35

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Colleen Megowan has extensive experience teaching in the classroom in California. She did her graduate work and eventually went on to teach at Arizona State University. Colleen was at ASU during the very beginning of the formation of AMTA and served as its first Executive Officer in 2011. Mark talks to Colleen about her early days in teaching using modeling instruction and what drives her to continue spreading the word about modeling and why she is still enthusiastic about it to this day.

Guest Bio

Colleen was a high school physics and mathematics teacher and Modeler in Sacramento CA. She moved to AZ in 2001 to do graduate studies in physics education research focusing on Modeling classroom discourse. In 2007 she

completed her Ph.D. under the direction of David Hestenes. She was an assistant professor of science education at Arizona State University until 2011 when she transitioned to a half-time research scientist position to become AMTA’s first Executive Officer. In 2014 she retired from ASU to devote her full attention to AMTA. In 2017 she “retired” from the XO position and became AMTA’s first Senior Fellow. Colleen continues to write grants, conduct research, teach occasional courses in modeling and cognition, train workshop leaders, and publish on Modeling Instruction. Her current research interests are computational modeling, teacher leadership,

out-of-field science teaching, and cognition in Modeling Instruction.


([1:56]) “The thing I valued the most by the time I was done with that workshop was the whiteboards and the conversations that we had in constructing those whiteboard representations.”

([8:30]) “In order for something to happen in the classroom, it has to come from students… students realize that they don’t have to wait for the teacher to tell them the answer. They can figure out the answer themselves.”

([10:04]) “There was a huge jump in enrollment in science courses following the switch to physics first and the introduction of modeling instruction… we went from two thirds of the student body taking a science course in any given year to 120% of the student body taking a science course in any given year.”

([18:46]) “I think actually the very best way to deal with administrators is to get them to come and be in your classroom because when they can spend some time there and just watch the kids, and listen to the kids, and just soak up the energy in the room, and see the affect of those students, they will be completely sold.”

([21:52]) “Modeling instruction is an extremely effective method of helping students learn science, or any other subject, by building, testing, refining, and applying the fundamental conceptual models of that discipline.”

([35:18]) “Modeling instruction is a way of teaching that will help you be the very best teacher you can be.”


Physics First:

Colleen Megowan – transcription