Visiting Assistant Professor of Cognition and Education
Timothy (Tim) D. Zimmerman, visiting assistant professor of cognition and education, received a B.S. in biology and marine biology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, an M.S. in marine biology from the College of Charleston, and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of California, Berkeley.
He researches learning and teaching of ocean and environmental science concepts in non-school contexts (e.g., museums, environmental education excursions, field trips) and its relationship to environmental decision-making. To achieve this, Tim combines qualitative, quantitative and design-based research methodologies to study learners as they move spatially and temporally across informal-formal learning context boundaries. He has given presentations on his research at dozens of national and international conferences, invited workshops and at the National Science Foundation.
He designed and taught course at Rutgers University, UC Berkeley and the College of Charleston. Tim has also developed marine and environmental science curricula for, and conducted learning research in conjunction with, several organizations and institutions, including the Lawrence Hall of Science, the National Geographic Society, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Monterey Bay and New York Aquariums, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. He is currently PI of a 3-year NSF funded ITEST grant seeking to understand 21st century learning of ocean science concepts, and co-PI on two NSF grants (REU; IRES) studying science learning during apprenticeship model research experiences for students. When he's not on campus, you will likely find him rock climbing, hiking, enjoying live music and/or spending time with his family.
In this course, we will explore the explicit and implicit assumption that learning occurs in museum spaces. Many museums (art, science, etc.) and designed museum-like spaces such as aquariums, sculpture gardens, and historical centers, often collectively called "informal learning institutions," frequently include educational components in their mission statements or goals. Yet, how are these components enacted or realized? Several questions will drive our inquiry: How do we define learning in these settings? How do we measure learning in these settings? What design or program elements foster learning in these settings? How do culture, social norms and notions of privilege influence learning in these spaces? We will discuss foundational readings and critical research on museum learning. Students will conduct museum learning activities, conduct a short museum learning study and write a paper on a topic of interest related to museums as learning contexts.
Where does good curriculum design come from? What is the relationship between curriculum and pedagogy? How do good educators promote deep learning despite the current political climate that emphasizes content mastery and efficient instruction? Should curriculum and instruction differ between school and non-school contexts? In this course, you will learn research-based curriculum design practices, how to focus on conceptual understanding and the development of higher order thinking in a number of domains (e.g. critical thinking, integrative thinking, innovative thinking) and across multiple contexts. Each student or group develops a curriculum unit on a topic of their choice. In addition, students get some practice teaching their materials to one another. This course is designed for Division II and III students who are interested in teaching in formal or non-formal settings or who are developing curriculum as part of their independent work. Prerequisite: Completion one of the courses: "How People Learn," "Museums as Learning Contexts: Designing and Assessing Museum Spaces for Learning," educational psychology, or other education coursework.
In this introductory course, students will explore the history, practices, career options, and problems of environmental education - educational efforts promoting an understanding of nature, environmentally responsible behavior, and protection of natural resources. Shifts in environmental education research foci, relationships to current and past environmental challenges (e.g., air pollution, species loss, climate change), and differences between U.S. and international efforts will be discussed. We will compare and contrast topics such as education for sustainable development, environmental education, conservation education, environmental behavior change, ecoliteracy, and interpretation. Students will be exposed to three lines of inquiry: critical pedagogy, educational research and experiential learning. In addition to assigned readings, students will choose a line of inquiry and follow that line of inquiry to: 1) design, in teams, an environmental education intervention and 2) write an individual paper on a topic of interest to the student related to environmental education.
In recent years, as a result of interactions between cognitive psychology and education, we now have many ideas about classroom learning, and approaches to teaching, testing and assessment. We also have strong evidence that implementing these ideas could really improve learning for all children and youth, including those who are under-resourced. In this seminar we will work to understand the findings by reading and discussing a selection of theoretical works from cognitive science and psychology. We will examine the practical applications of these theories to education through discussion and time observing/assisting in a classroom or tutoring/mentoring. We will also learn how to evaluate educational claims. Students will be evaluated on a series of short reaction papers, a final paper, and their general participation. This course can be used to satisfy the Educational Psychology requirement for licensure students.
Many people have opinions about the best ways to improve education, yet few people have conducted research in educational settings. However, improving education requires evidence gathered systematically through research. In this course, students will learn methods for conducting research on learning and teaching that yield evidence leading to program improvements. Methodologies include classroom and field trip observations, interview, survey, pre-post assessment, and discourse analysis. Students learn these methods while collaboratively participating as part of a research team with the professor on an on-going, NSF-funded, design-based research project. We will read and discuss relevant literature on learning, design of learning experiences, and how to help more students succeed. This course is designed to teach various learning research methods and is particularly helpful for students who are in their last semester of Division II, are interested in education and wanting to start thinking about a Division III project. Field trips will be a part of the students' research and course experience. Prerequisite: Some basic statistics (t tests, descriptive statistics, etc.).
Timothy (Tim) Zimmerman
Visiting Assistant Professor of Cognition and Education
Mail Code CS
Adele Simmons Hall Room 136
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002