UAlbany School of Education Students Take Part in 2011 Sandra K. Abell Institute

Institute held at Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), Colorado Springs, July 23-28

Colorado Springs, CO (August 1, 2011) - Michele Snyder, Michael Mastroianni, and Seema Rivera, doctoral students at the University at Albany's School of Education in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice, took part in the weeklong Sandra K. Abell Institute for Doctoral Students co-hosted by BSCS and the faculty from Pennsylvania State University.

The institute is sponsored by NARST (National Association for Research in Science Teaching), a worldwide professional association of researchers committed to the improvement of science teaching and learning through research.

Snyder, Mastroianni, and Rivera were among 41 doctoral students selected for this year’s institute. The international group of students had the opportunity to work with eight mentors with a focus on strengthening the research of the doctoral students through challenging discussions and group work designed to broaden students’ doctoral studies by critiquing and strengthening conceptual frameworks as well as examining methodological issues.

Nancy Rose, an Ohio University doctoral student, said the most beneficial part of the institute for her was the group session feedback she received. “Everybody’s critique, everybody’s input was absolutely invaluable,” she said. “This was an experience far beyond what I had expected.”

The focus of this year's institute was on designing and conducting classroom-based research. The content sessions included a review of research principles that students applied to their own work.

• Recognizing and Designing High-quality Research Questions
• Creating a Theoretical Framework and Using Literature Reviews Effectively
• Research Design & Methods
• Planning for a NARST Proposal
• NSTA and Researchers: How Do We Work Together?
• Recruitment of Participants and IRB: Case Studies and Ethnographies
• Recruitment of Participants and IRB: Large Scale Studies
• Data Quality and Management
• Mapping Data Analysis to Research Questions
• Post-analysis Dilemmas

The institute also featured a series of lunch/mentor meetings and panels, small-group discussions, a field trip to Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods with BSCS Science Educator and geologist Steve Getty, and a Science Framework Webinar presented by NSTA.

Mentors for the institute were

• Heidi Carlone, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
• Janet Carlson, BSCS
• Barbara A. Crawford, Cornell University
• Julie Luft, Arizona State University
• Scott McDonald, Pennsylvania State University
• Tali Tal, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology
• Joseph Taylor, BSCS
• Bhaskar Upadhyay, University of Minnesota 

Click here  for a full list of attendees and photo gallery coverage of the institute. To learn more about BSCS, visit For information about Pennsylvania State University, visit

Sandra K. Abell, in whose memory the institute is named, was a University of Missouri professor of science education and was instrumental in conceptualizing, planning, and hosting the first Summer Research Institute. Sandra passed away last fall.

Photo and release provided by BSCS.
Contact: Susan Rust, Director of Communications,