Jenny Dauer

Jenny Dauer

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Title Science Literacy
Address 502 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
68583-0995
FAX 402-472-2946
Cell 402-525-5275
E-mail jenny.dauer@unl.edu
Vitae Download file

I am an assistant professor in science literacy in the School of Natural Resources. I am a researcher in the area of Discipline-Based Science Education Research (DBER), and my research interests are: 1) students' understanding of complex biological and earth systems, and 2) science literacy (described below). I use educational research methods to collect data such as interviews, written assessments and survey instruments to characterize and evaluate student learning. The results are then used to inform educators of improved teaching strategies.

1) Student understanding of complex systems
Students are not blank slates and come into a classroom with knowledge and conceptions that may or may not be helpful in future learning. So, it is important to understand what students know or understand in order to teach them more effectively. In particular, biological and earth systems are complex in nature, with multiple scales or organization, heterogeneous components that have interconnections and invisible dynamic components. I am interested in understanding how students make sense of these systems and learn to do "systems-thinking." I have studied this in several contexts:

  • Students' understanding of matter and energy: I've collaborated with several colleagues at different institutions to develop theoretical frameworks to describe how students' explanation or argumentation practices about carbon-transforming processes (photosynthesis, cellular respiration, combustion, etc.) increases in sophistication as students learn. For example, I have investigated explanations that students give about matter tracing in plant growth experiments. Additionally, I've written extensive middle and high school curriculum to help students learn about matter and energy (http://carbontime.bscs.org) . Most recently I've investigated students' tracing of matter and energy in human energy systems in the context of a novel program to raise awareness of human behaviors that are linked to carbon emissions called Classrooms Take Charge (http://www.corvallisenvironmentalcenter.org/classrooms-take-charge-this-fall/).
  • Pollination systems knowledge: In collaboration with colleagues in the Entomology Department, we are developing a framework that describes undergraduate students' knowledge of pollination systems. This framework will be useful for assessing future educational activities and programming around pollinator conservation.
  • Canid species distribution and conservation: In collaboration with biologists in the School of Natural Resources, we are studying students' engagement in a citizen science or Classroom Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) project to collect camera trap data on canid species in Nebraska (http://snr.unl.edu/nebraskacanidproject). The camera trap data will be used to help biologists map the at-risk Swift fox species. This project affords an opportunity to research students understanding of complex interactions between the landscape, human action and ecosystem community dynamics, as well as student thinking about issues of conservation and the role of scientific research.

2) Scientific literacy and decision-making
Science literacy has three components: scientific knowledge, scientific competency (e.g. using scientific evidence) and scientific contexts (e.g. life situations involving science and technology). I'm interested in the interaction among these three components. The question that drives my research is, what is the role of science education in developing a scientifically literate public that uses scientific knowledge and evidence in civic discourse and decision-making?

The form that this research is currently taking is to investigate students' decision-making about complex socioscientific issues (SSI's). SSI's are complex issues that are important to society and have components of science that inform them, and in particular, I am investigating SSI's of water resources, energy use, biodiversity and conservation and food production. I am using social and cognitive psychology and decision-sciences theory to help understand what knowledge, skills and values students bring to bear in their decision-making about what society "should do" about an SSI.

My background:

Before coming to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I was a post-doc in the environmental literacy research group at Michigan State University. There I served as the project director for Carbon TIME (Transformations in Matter and Energy) and developed research-based science curriculum for middle and high school students.

My graduate work included a Ph.D. in forest science at Oregon State University and a M.S. in ecology at Penn State University. Both degrees focused on the role of calcium in biogeochemical cycling. I investigated the role of calcium-oxalate in nutrient cycling and stable isotope ratios in forests, and compared tree species differential uptake of calcium.

I have had an interest in science education for a long time. Before my graduate work, I received a bachelor's in Secondary Education with emphasis in biology and environmental sciences at Penn State University and worked in informal K-12 education at the Franklin Institute Science Museum.

Selected Publications

Covitt BA, Dauer JM, Anderson CW (in press) The Role of Practices in Scientific Literacy. In Supporting Next Generation Scientific and Engineering Practices in K-12 Classrooms. Eds Reiser, Schwarz & Passmore. NSTA publication.
Dauer, JM & Forbes, CT (In press) Making decisions about complex socioscientific issues: a multidisciplinary science course. Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal.
Dauer, JT and Dauer JM (In press) A framework for understanding the characteristics of complexity in biology. International Journal of STEM Education.
Dauer J.M. and Perakis S.S. (2014) Calcium oxalate contribution to calcium cycling in forests of contrasting nutrient status. Forest Ecology and Management. 334:64-73.
Dauer JM, Doherty JH, Freed AL, Anderson CW (2014) Connections between student explanations and arguments from evidence about plant growth. CBE-Life Science Education. 13:397-409.
Anderson CW, Dauer JM, Miller H, and Freed A (2015) Carbon Transformations in Matter and Energy (TIME) Curriculum. Peer-reviewed middle and high school curriculum.   On-Line
Dauer JM, and S Perakis (2013) Contribution of calcium oxalate to soil exhangeable calcium. Soil Science, 178:671-678.
Dauer, J., Miller, H. & Anderson, C. W. (2014). Conservation of energy: An analytical tool for student accounts of carbon-transforming processes. In R. Chen, A. Eisenkraft, D. Fortus, J. Krajcik, K. Neumann & A. Scheff (Eds.), Teaching and Learning of Energy in K-12 Education. New York: Springer, pgs 47-61.
Dauer, J., Miller, H., and Anderson, C.W. 2013. Students’ inquiry and argumentation about carbon transforming processes, National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
Dauer JM, C Lettero, M Ocana, 2011. A review of ethical concepts and moral reasoning integration into climate change curriculum. Journal for Activism in Science & Technology Education 3:131-175.
Dauer JM, JM Withington, J Oleksyn, J Chorover, OA Chadwick, PB Reich, DM Eissenstat, 2009. A scanner-based approach to soil profile-wall mapping of root distribution. Dendrobiology 62:35-40
Dauer JM, J Chorover, OA Chadwick, J Oleksyn, MG Tjoelker, SE Hobbie, PB Reich, DM Eissenstat, 2007. Controls over leaf and litter calcium concentrations among temperate trees. Biogeochemistry 86: 175-187

 

Selected Presentations

Role of Ca oxlate in controlling Ca/Sr discrimination and 44Ca/40Ca fractionation
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 8/6/2013
  • Full Citation: Ecology Society of America, Minneapolis, MN
Student practices during inquiry about carbon-transforming processes
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 8/5/2013
  • Full Citation: Ecology Society of America, Minneapolis, MN
Student learning about tracing matter and energy in ecosystems
  • Presentation Type: Poster Presentation
  • Date: 7/12/2013
  • Full Citation: Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research, Minneapolis, MN
Students' inquiry and argumentation about carbon transforming processes
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 4/6/2013
  • Full Citation: National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

Educational Background

  • BS - Penn State University, Secondary Education, Biology and Environmental Science (2000)
  • MS - Penn State University, Ecology (2005)
  • PhD - Oregon State University, Forest Science (2012)

Awards

SNR Mission Area(s)

  • Applied Ecology

Affiliations (index)

Other Areas of Interest

Science Literacy, systems thinking, student learning about matter and energy, learning progression research, climate change education, teaching and curriculum development, biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology, nutrient cycling

SNR Areas of Expertise

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Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

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Graduate Program(s)

Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences


including specializations in
  • Human Dimensions

Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences

Courses Taught
Course Number Course Title Fall Even Years Fall Odd Years Spring Even Years Spring Odd Years Summer Session Cross Listing
LIFE 121 Fundamentals of Biology II X X X X n/a
NRES 103 Introduction to Agriculture, and Natural Resource Systems X X X AGRI/NRES 103
NRES 103 Introduction to Agriculture, and Natural Resource Systems X X X AGRI/NRES 103