Work Steven C. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education 100 N. University Street West Lafayette Indiana 47907-1446 BRNG 5108Dwork Work Phone: (765) 494-7321work Work Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgINTERNET
Interim Department Head, Professor Educational Psychology & Research MethodologyEducational Studies
- Ph.D. — Educational Psychology, University of Illinois Champaign
- M.S. — Clinical Psychology, Delhi University
- B.S. — Psychology, Bombay University
- 2008 – present
Professor in Educational Psychology
Department of Educational Studies, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
- 2008 – 2015
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
- 1999 – 2007
Associate Professor in Educational Psychology
Department of Educational Studies, Purdue University
- 1995 – 1998
Assistant Professor in Educational Psychology
Department of Educational Studies, Purdue University
Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Studies, Purdue University
Research Associate, Department of Psychonomics, Division of Cognitive Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Research Associate, Department of Psychonomics, Division of Cognitive Psychology, Free University of Amsterdam. The Netherlands
+ Research and Publications
My research interests focus on cognition, learning and reasoning. My work explores how social and material supports affect the development thinking and knowing from childhood through adulthood. I study how classroom variables, such as teacher-student or peer interactions, task or activity structures and material supports, influence students’ engagement in learning, knowledge, reasoning, and epistemic cognition. I am also interested in the connections between informal or out-of-school and formal school learning.
- Samarapungavan, A. (2018). Construing scientific evidence: The role of disciplinary knowledge in reasoning with and about evidence in scientific practice. In F. Fischer, K. Englemann, J. Osborne, & C. A. Chinn, (Eds.), Interplay of Domain-Specific and Domain General Aspects of Scientific Reasoning and Argumentation Skills. Taylor and Francis.
- Roegman, R., Samarapungavan, A., Maeda, Y., & Johns, G. (2018). Color-neutral disaggregation? Principals’ practices around disaggregating data from three school districts. Educational Administration Quarterly. Online first: https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X18769052.
- Samarapungavan, A., Bryan, L. and Wills, J. (2017), Second graders’ emerging particle models of matter in the context of learning through model-based inquiry. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. doi:10.1002/tea.21394
- Samarapungavan, A., Wills, J., & Bryan, L.A. (2017). Exploring the scope and boundaries of inquiry strategies: What do young learners generalize from inquiry-based science learning? In E. Manalo, Y. Uesaka, & C. A. Chinn (Eds.). Promoting spontaneous use of learning and reasoning strategies: Theory, research, and practice. Singapore: Routledge.
- Jen, E., Samarapungavan, A., & Moon, S. (2015). Use Design-Based Research in Gifted Education, Gifted Child Quarterly, 59(3), 190-200.
- Samarapungavan, A., Tippins, D., & Bryan, L.A. (2015). A modeling-based inquiry framework for early childhood science learning. In K. Trundle & M. Sackes (Eds.), Research in Early Childhood Science Education (pp.259-278). Dordrecht: NL. Springer Publishing.
- Senocak, E., Samarapungavan, A., Aksoy, P., & Tosun, C. (2013). A study on development of an instrument to determine Turkish kindergarten students’ understandings of scientific concepts and scientific inquiry process skills. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 00(0), 1-12. DOI: 10.12738/estp.2013.4.1721
- Mantzicopoulos, P., Patrick, H., & Samarapungavan, A., (2013). Science literacy in school and home contexts: Kindergarteners’ Science Achievement and Motivation. Cognition and Instruction, 31(1), 62-119.
- Samarapungavan, A., Patrick, H., & Mantzicopoulos, P. (2011). What Kindergarten Students Learn in Inquiry-Based Science Classrooms. Cognition and Instruction, 29(4), 416-470.
- Chinn, C. A., Buckland, L. A., & Samarapungavan, A. (2011). Expanding the dimensions of epistemic cognition: Arguments from philosophy and psychology. Educational Psychologist, 46(3), 1-27.
- Samarapungavan, A. (2010). Ontological Assumptions about Species and Their Influence on Children’s Understanding of Evolutionary Biology. In R. Taylor, & M. Ferrari (Eds.), Epistemology and Science Education: Understanding the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Controversy. Springer Publishing.
- Samarapungavan, A., Mantzicopoulos, P., Patrick, H., * French B. (2009). The development and validation of the Science Learning Assessment (SLA): A measure of kindergarten science learning. Advanced Academics, 20(3), 502-535.
- Chinn, C. A., & Samarapungavan, A. (2009). Conceptual Change-Multiple Routes, Multiple Mechanisms: A Commentary on Ohlsson. Educational Psychologist, 44(1), 1-10.
- Samarapungavan, A., Mantzicopoulos, P., & Patrick, H. (2008). Learning Science Through Inquiry in Kindergarten. Science Education, 92(5), 868 – 908.
- Samarapungavan, A., Westby, E. L. & Bodner, G. M. (2006). Contextual epistemic development in science: A comparison of chemistry students and research chemists. Science Education, 90 (3), 468-495.
- Samarapungavan, A., Westby, E. L., & Bodner, G. M. (2006). Contextual Epistemic Development in Science: A Comparison of Chemistry Students and Research Chemists. Science Education, 1-28. Published online in Wiley Interscience https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
- Nakhleh, M., Samarapungavan, A., & Saglam, Y. (2005). Middle school students’ beliefs about matter. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42 (5), 581-612.
- Samarapungavan, A., & Wiers, R. (1997). Children’s thoughts on the origin of species: A study of explanatory coherence. Cognitive Science, 21(2), 147-177.
- Samarapungavan, A., Vosniadou, S., & Brewer, W. F. (1996). Thinking about the earth, sun, and moon: Indian children’s cosmologies. Cognitive Development, 11, 491-521.
- Samarapungavan, A. (1992). Children’s judgments in theory choice tasks: Scientific rationality in childhood. Cognition, 45, 1-32.
In broad terms, I am interested in how people think and learn in knowledge rich domains. My research focuses on reasoning and learning in science from childhood through adulthood. Within this context, I am interested in several specific research questions:
- What is science and how do we engage students in learning / doing science?
- What principles and heuristics do people use to evaluate scientific knowledge?
- How do people’s ideas about the natural world develop and change in the course of formal schooling?
- How can people learn to generate and use models of complex physiological systems?
+ Current Projects
Exploring Biological Evidence (EBE): Helping Students Understand the Richness and Complexity of Evidentiary Constructs in Biology (NSF-DRL Award # 1661124)
In modern science, discoveries are driven by disciplinary research techniques that produce complex and multifaceted evidence. For example, life scientists adapt microscopy techniques from the physical sciences to gather biomolecular evidence, draw from chemistry to develop chromatography techniques for the study of cellular processes, and apply mathematics to model population variation. Recent research and education reform documents emphasize integrating the teaching and learning of disciplinary knowledge with the science practices by which evidence for that knowledge is generated. Despite decades of research on these issues, educators find that students continue to have difficulty understanding the nature, quality, and scope of the evidentiary base on which advanced science concepts are founded. The EBE project aims to address this gap by studying how instructional scaffolds can be used to foster students’ understanding and use of biological evidence in the context of advanced biology learning. For the purposes of this project, instructional scaffolds are defined as written prompts embedded in task instructions, that direct students’ attention to evidence in inquiry and problem-solving tasks. The EBE project will examine trajectories of learning in high school students’ understanding and use of biological evidence. We will work with instructors who incorporate a variety of rich and authentic problems/inquiry tasks designed to help students understand and apply core concepts in biology. We hypothesize that students’ evidentiary reasoning will improve more with the use of instructional scaffolds which explicitly connect abstract considerations of the quality and relevance of evidence to key disciplinary knowledge in biology. We will collaborate with biology instructors to help them develop and implement instructional scaffolds for students in the context of classroom inquiry activities, and examine the effects of scaffolding on student learning.
Modeling in Primary Grades (MPG): Science Learning through Content-rich Inquiry (NSF DRK12, Award #1222853)
Funded by NSF-REESE, this exploratory project examines how teachers of second grade students scaffold the development of student conceptual models and their understanding of the nature of scientific models and modeling processes in physical science conceptual areas associated with the particulate nature of matter. Teachers receive professional development around ways in which they can facilitate productive disciplinary discussions with young children that result in students coming to understand core ideas in the Next Generation Science Standards. The project focuses on the topics of matter and sound based on the FOSS units “Solids and Liquids” and “Water,” and the STC unit “Sound”. My Co-PIs on this project are Lynn Bryan, Nicholas Giordano, and Yukiko Maeda.
The Epistemic Cognition Project
My interests in Epistemic Cognition can be traced back to my doctoral research in the 1980s. When I began my doctoral work, the conventional view of young children was that they lacked the cognitive tools (such as the ability to coordinate ideas with evidence) that would allow them to reflect upon, evaluate, and revise scientific ideas. Informed by work in the epistemology of science, the psychology of scientific reasoning, and cognitive development, I embarked upon a program of research to explore children’s developing capacities for epistemic cognition. I explored children’s judgments about what counted as a good or better theory in the context of practical scenarios that drew upon children’s early ideas about how the natural world works. That line of research showed that even young children show an emerging preference for empirically consistent, non-ad hoc, and coherent scientific explanations, when they understand the content of the explanations and when the competing explanations are both plausible based on their prior experience and knowledge. Since then, I have continued to explore aspects of epistemic cognition in children and adults. My recent research had explored the role of content expertise, including methodological expertise, and tacit / informally acquired methodological knowledge, in the epistemic cognition of practicing scientists. This work suggests variations in the epistemic cognition of research scientists as a function of their disciplinary training and expertise. We are currently studying how students develop these more nuance, discipline-specific forms of epistemic cognition through apprenticeship in programs of scientific research.
+ Funded Research
- Modeling in the Primary Grades (MPG) (2012-2015). Agency: NSF. Amount: $431,916.00. PI: Ala Samarapungavan. Co PIs, Lynn Bryan, Nicholas Giordano, & Yukiko Maeda.
- Developing Talents and Improving Student Achievement among Traditionally Underrepresented Populations (2009 – 2012). Agency: US Dept, of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Amount: $2,243,965. PI: M. Gentry, Co-PIs: R. Mann; L. De Olivera; A. Samarapungavan, & Y. Maeda; J. Peterson, J; and E. Mann.
- The Scientific Literacy Project: Enhancing Young Children’s Scientific Literacy through Reading and Inquiry-Centered Adult-Child Dialog. (2005-2009). Agency: US Dept, of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Amount: 1, 490, 693.00. PI: Mantzicopoulos, Y., Co-PIs: Patrick, H., & Samarapungavan, A.
- ACCESSSCOPE Project: Independent Microscope Operation for Students with Mobility and Visual Impairments (2005-2009). Agency: NSF. Amount: $ 299,519,000. Duerstock, B., Robinson, P. Shwarte, D. & Samarapungavan, A
- Creating a Freshman Engineering Learning Environment (1999-2002). Agency: GE Fund. Amount: $ 450,000. PI: Schwartz,Co-PIs: R. J., Oakes, W., Bodner, G., & Samarapungavan, A
- Developing the Foundation for Transforming Freshman Engineering at Purdue University (1998). Agency: GE Fund. Amount: $ 85,000. PI: Wright, J. R., Co-PIs: R. J., Oakes, W., Bodner, G., & Samarapungavan, A.
- Learning Excellence in Science and Engineering – Transforming Theory Into Practice (1997). Agency: GE Fund. Amount: $149,786.00. PI: Bodner, G., Co-PIs: Oakes, W., & Samarapungavan, A.
- Coordinating Theories with Evidence: What Develops? (1993-1995) Agency: National Academy of Education / Spencer grant. Amount: $ 35,000. PI: Samarapungavan, A.
- The Impact of Kindergarten Students’ Explanations on their Science Learning (2008-2009). Agency: Purdue Research Foundation (Year Long Research Award). Amount: $16,300. PI: A. Samarapungavan.
- IMMUNOWEB: The Development of Students’ Scientific Reasoning and Modeling Skills in an Electronic Learning Environment (2005). Agency: Discovery Learning Center (Seed Grant Program). Amount: $ 18,281.00. PI: Samarapungavan, A., Co-PIs: HogenEsch, H., & Mohler, J.
- IMMUNOWEB: The Development of Students’ Scientific Reasoning and Modeling Skills in an Electronic Learning Environment (2003-2005). Agency: Purdue Research Foundation. Amount: $ 27, 552. Samarapungavan, A.
- Student’s Epistemologies of Science: The Development of Beliefs about the Nature and Origins of Scientific Knowledge (2000-2001). Agency: Purdue University – School of Education, Undergraduate Research Trainee (URT) grant. Amount: $500.00. PI: Samarapungavan, A.
- Thinking as Argumentation. The Effects of Debate Training on the Application and Transfer of Higher Order Thinking Skills (2000-2002). Agency: Purdue Research Foundation. Amount: $30,384. Samarapungavan, A.
- International Travel Grant to give invited address, “Ontology, epistemology, and domain-specific beliefs as constraints on conceptual change in science” at the National Seminar on Philosophy of Science: Cognitive, Historical, & Educational Perspectives. Bombay, India.(1998). Agency: Purdue Research Foundation. Amount: $5,000.00. PI: Samarapungavan, A.
- Children’s Epistemologies of Science: The Development of Beliefs about the Nature and Origins of Scientific Knowledge (1997). Agency: Purdue Research Foundation. Amount: $5,000.00. Samarapungavan, A.
- Young Children’s Theories of Matter (1997) Agency: Purdue Research Foundation, Amount: $23,332.00. PI: Samarapungavan, A.
+ Current Grants
- Exploring Biological Evidence (EBE): Helping Students Understand the Richness and Complexity of Evidentiary Constructs in Biology (2017-2020). Agency: NSF (CORE), Award # 1661124. Amount: $1,270,155.00. PI: Samarapungavan, A. Co-PIs: Pelaez, N., Gardner, S., Clase, K.
- Undergraduate STEM Education by Integrating Mobile Learning Technologies with Natural Language Processing (2018-2022). Agency: IES (NCER), Award # R305A180477. Amount, $1,398,642. PI: Meneske, M. Co-PIs Samarapungavan, A., Litman, D.
- Sensing Science through Modeling Matter: Kindergarten Students’ Development of Understanding of Matter and Its Changes(2016-2020). Agency: NSF (DRK12), Award # 1621299. Amount: $2,641,415.00. PI: Staudt, C., Concord Consortium. Co-PIs: Bryan, L.A., & Samarapungavan, A.
+ Courses Typically Taught
I teach graduate and undergraduate courses in cognition, learning, research methodology and educational psychology. I guide graduate student research in the areas of individual and collaborative learning, reasoning, and higher order thinking.
- EDPS 53000 — Advanced Educational Psychology
- EDPS 23500 — Learning and Motivation
- EDPS 53300 — Introduction to Educational Research I: Methodology
- EDPS 59100P — Developing Minds: Issues for Teaching and Learning
- EDPS 53800 — School Learning
- EDPS 54300 — Teaching Thinking
- EDPS 51000 — Culture and Cognition
- EDPS 63300 — Computers as Tools of Knowledge Acquisition: Explorations In Science and Mathematics Learning
Graduate Research Training
The Graduate Program in Educational Psychology (Link to information on the graduate program in Educational Psychology offered through the Department of Educational Studies)
Academic Advising and Mentoring of Graduate Students
I work with a variety of graduate students with research interests in the area of human cognition and learning. Specific opportunities for graduate research training in my areas of interest include research assistantships funded through extra mural and intramural research grants & independent study opportunities.