Ravit Golan Duncan

Professor of Learning Sciences and Science Education
Learning & Teaching

Ravit Golan Duncan is a professor of Learning Sciences and Science Education.  She has several research foci that all involve the design and study of learning environments to support deeper and more meaningful science learning. Her work centers students’ epistemic reasoning and engages students in science learning that values students’ expertise and agency. She also coordinates and teaches in the certification program in biological sciences at Rutgers University and provides professional development workshops to interested local districts and through her research projects to participating districts.

  • Biology for Community is an NSF funded project to develop consequential and justice-oriented learning environments in biology for middle and high school students.  https://b4cstaging.wpenginepowered.com/
  • Scaffolding Explanations and Epistemic Development for Systems is an NSF funded project to support middle school students’ use of evidence to evaluate or refine their scientific models. https://modelingandevidence.org/
  • Promoting Reasoning and Conceptual Change in Science is an NSF funded project to support students’ epistemic reasoning with and about modeling and argumentation in science. http://www.praccis.org/

• B.S. in Biological Science, Hebrew University at Jerusalem (1996)
• M.S. in Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago (1999)
• Ph.D. in Learning Sciences, Northwestern University (2005)
• American Educational Research Association (AERA)
• International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS)
• National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST)
• National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)

  • Expertise & Research Interest

    Science education

    Epistemic cognition

    Teacher education

  • Research Work With Students

    Scaffolding Explanations and Epistemic Development for Systems (SEEDS)- This NSF-funded research project explores how late elementary students reason about different kinds of evidence as they develop mechanistic models of ecosystem phenomena. In particular, we are interested in understanding how students coordinate data from simulations and empirical data and how they understand the epistemic aims, ideals, and reliable processes involved in each form of evidence. As part of this project we are developing a software tool that will allow students to view different types of evidence (from a resource library) and link them to a mechanistic model that they build in the tool. The new software tool will be used by 5th grade students learning about aquatic ecosystems using empirical evidence and NetLogo simulations.

    Promoting Reasoning And Conceptual Change In Science (PRACCIS) project- this is a NSF- funded project with the goal of investigating instructional strategies and scaffolds for supporting student engagement in scientific modeling and argumentation in middle school science classrooms. As part of this project we have developed a suite of scaffolds to evidence-based reasoning, evidence-model coordination, and argumentation. We have embedded these scaffolds in instructional units on a variety of biology units (natural selection, genetics, cellular organelles, etc.). These instructional materials have been used in middle and high school science classrooms with great success. We have also developed extensive professional development materials to support teacher use of the materials.

    Investigating Issues in Learning Progressions in Science (I2LeaPS)– This is an NSF-funded project to investigate learning progressions in science, in particular progressions of genetics core ideas and scientific modeling. As part of this project we developed two complementary units on classical and molecular genetics and examined the ways in which the ordering of these units impacts students’ learning of core ideas in genetics as well as their development of modeling practice. The units were developed based on a hypothetical learning progression for genetics spanning grades 5-10. To assess student learning we developed a 54- item assessment using ordered-multiple-choice items that mapped onto five constructs of the progression. Studies of the progression were carried out in high school classrooms and suggest that a molecular-first approach in slightly more effective than a classical-genetics we are currently exploring effect of the different sequences of genetics instruction on students development of modeling practice.

  • Recent & Selected Publications

    Duncan, R. G., Krishnamoorthy, R., Harms, U., Haskel-Ittah, M., Kampourakis, K., Gericke, N., Hammann, M., Jimenez-Aleixandre, M., Nehm, R. H., Reiss, M. J., & Yarden, A. (2024). The sociopolitical in human genetics education. Science (New York, N.Y.)383(6685), 826–828.

    Link- https://www.science.org/doi/pdf/10.1126/science.adi8227

    Ryan, Z., Danish J, Zhou, J., Stiso, C., Murphy, D., Duncan, R., Chinn, C., & Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2023) Investigating students’ development of mechanistic reasoning in modeling complex aquatic ecosystems. Front. Educ. 8:1159558. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2023.1159558

    Castro-Faix, M., & Duncan, R. G. (2022). Cross-sectional study of students’ molecular explanations of inheritance patterns. Science Education, 106, 412-447.

    Duncan, R. G. & Chinn, C. A. (Eds. ) (2021). International Handbook on Learning and Inquiry. New York: Routledge.

    Haskel-Ittah, M., Duncan, R. G., Vazquez Ben, L., & Yarden, A. (2020). Reasoning about genetic mechanisms: Affordances and constraints for learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 57(3), 342-367

    Duncan, R. G., Chinn, C. A., Barzilai, S. (2018). Grasp of evidence: Problematizing and expanding the Next Generation Science Standards’ conceptualization of evidence. Journal of Research in Science Education, 55(7), 907-937.

    Duncan, R. G., & Rivet, A. E. (2018). Learning progressions. In F. Fisher, C. E. Hmelo-Silver, & S. R. Goldman (Eds.), International Handbook of the Learning Sciences. pp. 422-432. New York: Routledge.

    Duncan, R. G., Krajcik, J. & Rivet, A. E. (Eds.). (2016). Disciplinary Core Ideas. Arlington: NSTA Press

  • Honors & Awards
    Graduate School of Education Outstanding Research Award
    Research Fellowship, Knowles Science Teaching Foundation ($110,000)
    Postdoctoral Fellow, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation ($55, 000)
    Early Career/Junior Researcher Consortium, Competitive NSF funded workshop, The 7th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Bloomington, IN ($500)
    Dissertation Year Fellowship, The Graduate School, Northwestern University ($15,660)
    Outstanding Teaching and Service Award, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Files
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