College of Education > News and Publications > 2015: 04-06 news > Waterbury Chair awarded highest honor at NARST ceremony

Waterbury Chair awarded highest honor at NARST ceremony

Richard Duschl, Kenneth B. Waterbury Chaired Professor of Secondary Education, earned the Distinguished Contributions Award at the 2015 awards luncheon for NARST: A Worldwide Organization for Improving Science Teaching and Learning through Research.
Waterbury Chair awarded highest honor at NARST ceremony

Richard Duschl

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Richard Duschl, Kenneth B. Waterbury Chaired Professor of Secondary Education, was honored recently for his significant contributions to science education research. For his work, Duschl earned the Distinguished Contributions Award at the 2015 awards luncheon for NARST: A Worldwide Organization for Improving Science Teaching and Learning through Research.

Richard Duschl
Richard Duschl
The NARST Distinguished Contributions to Science Education through Research Award recognizes an individual who, through research over an extended period of time, has made outstanding and continuing contributions, provided notable leadership, and made a substantial impact in the area of science education.

“I’m a person trying to understand and improve science instruction and learning inside the classroom and to come up with ways to make learning and teaching better,” Duschl said. “The research is all about the impact: impacting people, impacting ideas and impacting the work that gets done.”

Duschl’s interest in restructuring science education began in the 1980s with his doctoral studies at the University in Maryland, where he focused on applications of the history and philosophy of science to science education. This research led to his first book about the importance of using scientific theories to guide instruction called “Restructuring Science Education: The Role of Theories and Their Importance,” published by Teachers College Press.

Over the next 30 years, he has collaborated with many international leading scholars. In Penn State’s College of Education, his research has focused on designing innovative extended curriculum and teaching sequences as well as using argumentation and discourse frameworks to promote meaningful science learning experiences.

Duschl has had significant contributions to researching the role of assessment in learning by developing an instructional strategy called assessment conversations, which involves using students’ work to promote feedback dialogue and interactions between teachers and students, thereby improving student learning.

“The goal of assessment research is finding productive pathways for learning that will keep students engaged and motivated in the study of STEM disciplines,” Duschl said.

The assessment research propelled Duschl to further investigate how researchers and educators can optimize the sequence and coherence of a learner’s experience. He chaired a National Research Council committee that wrote an influential 2007 report called “Taking Science to School,” which is being cited widely throughout the scientific community.

By Annemarie Mountz (April 2015)