Jenny Dauer

Jenny Dauer

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  • Publications & Presentations
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  • Courses Taught
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Title Science Literacy
Address 502 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
FAX 402-472-2946
Cell 402-525-5275
Vitae Download file

Hi, I'm Jenny Dauer, assistant professor in science literacy at the School of Natural Resources.

My research interests are in the areas of science literacy and biology, and Discipline-Based Science Education Research (DBER). I'm interested in how students learn about biology and ecology. In other words, what is difficult about these topics and how do we teach them better? I use educational research methods such as interviews, written assessments and surveys to characterize student learning. The results are then used to inform educators of improved teaching strategies.

I am currently working on two research projects:

1) Student learning and inquiry practices about matter and energy
Matter and energy have been identified as important components in both K-12 science and undergraduate biology curriculum (see and I am interested in how students understand matter and energy in carbon-transforming processes (photosynthesis, cellular respiration, combustion, etc.). Along with collaborators at several other universities, I have worked to develop theoretical frameworks to describe how students' explanation or argumentation practices increases in sophistication as they learn. We also use the framework to develop better teaching tools that help students learn more effectively in undergraduate biology and ecology classes. I am currently investigating how students understand investigations and interpret evidence about carbon transforming processes. For example, what students understand during experiments about where matter comes from when plants grow. Also, how students understand evidence about large-scale carbon cycling. For example, how students interpret carbon pools and fluxes in ecosystems or interpret evidence related to global climate change like the Keeling Curve.

2) Scientific literacy in environmental and agricultural issues
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. I'm currently developing research on how undergraduate students view the role of science in socio-scientific issues related to food, energy, water and landscapes. How does their science knowledge play a role in creating a sound scientific argument? What is challenging for students as they attempt to link evidence to a claim? How do students use science in their everyday life?

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.

Selected Publications

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
Covitt BA, Dauer JM, Anderson CW (in preparation) 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, 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)


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