Kathleen E. Metz
"Professor Metz, through her seminal research on children’s reasoning, has reshaped the conversation about the development of learning,” says Richard Duschl, Waterbury Chaired Professor in Secondary Education. "She has demonstrated that children are much more capable than we thought, surprisingly sophisticated, in fact, when the domain of inquiry is familiar to the children. Kathy was one of the first researchers to challenge the stages of development for young science learners. Her position to keep development but abandon age stages is adopted in the National Research Council report "Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8" to which she was a member. We are very excited to have her as part of the 2011-2012 Waterbury Lecture Series."
In her research, Metz focuses on young children's scientific cognition from both developmental and instructional viewpoints. She recently completed a National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored project investigating the power and limitations of elementary-school children's scientific inquiry. Building on this work, she and her research team now are engaged in a new NSF-funded project in which they are investigating the extent to which second and third graders can develop an understanding of the conceptual underpinnings of evolution. More specifically, they are a taking a learning progressions approach to understanding the design, support, and analysis of student learning regarding natural selection at the level of microevolution.
Metz earned a bachelor's degree in psychology at Earlham College, a master's degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctoral degree in education at the University of Massachusetts. She began her career as an elementary-school teacher and, subsequently, a curriculum developer. After receiving a doctoral degree and working as a teacher educator, she was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow in Cognitive Science at Carnegie Mellon University and a member of Bàrbel Inhelder's research team at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.