MSU names director of research institute on mathematics, science education

August 9, 2011

Joseph Krajcik, a well-known science education expert, has been named director of the Institute for Research on Mathematics and Science Education (IRMSE) at Michigan State University.

The interdisciplinary center, launched during a Washington, D.C. conference last fall, is designed to address some of the most pressing challenges related to teaching science and mathematics by bringing together top scholars from the education and science-based fields.

Krajcik comes to MSU from the University of Michigan, where he has been a professor in the School of Education since 1990. He is a key contributor in the national movement to create new K-12 science standards.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to lead and work with MSU faculty on this newly formed institute,” said Krajcik, who directs the Physical Science Design Team for Next Generation Science Standards. “We hold the potential to promote teaching and learning so that all learners have the science and mathematics subject matter knowledge, literacy and habits of mind needed to live successful lives in a changing global society.”

MSU hosted two national forums on topics that have demanded attention from researchers – the new Common Core State Standards in mathematics and the teaching of biology – during the institute’s first year. Both events were organized by interim director William Schmidt, a University Distinguished Professor of education and statistics.

Moving forward, Krajcik will be charged with coordinating efforts to, for example, establish more cross-disciplinary research projects in science and mathematics education and help those researchers share their findings with educational leaders and policymakers.

IRMSE is a joint initiative of the College of Education and the College of Natural Science at MSU. It is intended to consider issues in science and mathematics at stake from kindergarten through the first years of college.

A former high school chemistry teacher, Krajcik’s own research has focused on helping students develop deeper understandings about key science concepts. He leads cutting-edge efforts to reform both teaching practices and curriculum and just completed a 10 year project that resulted in the publication of research-based middle school science materials. (Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology (IQWST) published by Sangari Active Science.)

Krajcik, with Professor Angela Calabrese Barton of MSU, serves as co-editor of the Journal of Research in Science Education. He received a distinguished career award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) in 2010.