Education Faculty Member Receives National Award for Research

Carla Johnson

On the heels of being named an Outstanding Science Teacher Educator earlier this year, Carla C. Johnson, associate professor of science and STEM education, has recently received recognition for her research from the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE).

Studying the influence of macro and micro-policy on science education reform, Johnson’s research and published paper on the same subject have been recognized as significant contributions to education research by ASTE.

For her paper, “Educational Turbulence: The Influence of Macro and Micro-Policy on Science Education Reform,” Johnson received ASTE’s Award V for Implications of Research for Educational Practice. Johnson was nominated for the award by someone who attended her presentation on the topic at ASTE’s international conference in January.

“We are very proud of Professor Johnson’s accomplishments as an educator and research scholar,” said Edward Latessa, Interim Dean of the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. “Beyond advancing the study of science education reform, Professor Johnson serves as a truly engaging educator for all of her students.”

As the sole award recipient, Johnson was recognized for her study of a persistent and recurring problem in the practice of science teacher education. Given the strong influence that federally mandated accountability has on day-to-day classroom activities and goals, Johnson’s study helps shed light on the unintended consequences of such reform. For example, Johnson contends that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 has produced unintended consequences for K-12 classrooms and diminishes the quality of teaching and learning of science and other disciplines.

Johnson hopes her research will propel policy makers to address these adverse outcomes and others, such as increased focus on testing students for isolated facts recall rather than generating deep conceptual understanding.

“I am hopeful my work will begin to pave the way for educational research to influence educational policy,” Johnson said. “Even the best intended policies fall short of the mark when they are enacted locally.”

Johnson’s research on the influence of macro and micro-policy on science education complements her broader, ongoing research of STEM educational reform. She has an extensive research record with more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, nine book chapters, and one edited book. Johnson’s award-winning education turbulence paper will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Science Teacher Education.