Michelle Tan

Michelle TanI am a teacher and science educator. My teaching and research interests include teacher education, collaborative teacher inquiry and reflective practice, STEM, Science Education, and Outdoor Education and learning. My research focuses on promoting learning that is meaningful and engaging for learners. This includes exploring how students learn through a variety of methods, such as place-based learning, problem-based learning, conceptual learning, through variation, and outdoors. I pay special attention to how students engage with society and confront local community issues that are culturally responsive and informed by disciplinary knowledge and methods. I am interested in how classroom learning can cultivate students’ impetus for social action; in the context of science education, I engage with how teachers and students learn to tackle socioscientific and sociopolitical issues. My research focuses on finding the spaces for students to develop awareness and confront of issues of marginalization faced by minority groups within our society.

I take special interest in how teachers are prepared and professionally developed. To this end, my research goals include encouraging teachers to design innovative pedagogical tools to support student learning. I am interested in how different professional development approaches, such as action research, lesson study, learning study, and professional learning communities can support teachers in their teaching instruction.  In this vein, I am interested in how educational reforms and new curriculum could be catalysts for teacher change.  I also take interest in teachers’ beliefs about learning and their teaching practices.  I am interested in how teachers can be empowered to become curriculum makers, teacher scholars and reflective practitioners. I explore this area of my research at the classroom, school and policy levels.

Currently, I have ongoing research projects that explore how teachers’ integration of educational theories to teaching practice could enrich student learning. The theories include neuroscience perspectives (brain-based learning), variation theory, as well as place-based perspectives. I also engage in a study that explores how media and technology can be utilized to promote community-based learning. Specifically, the study focuses on how students produce short films to deepen their own learning and engage with community. Another part of my work examines the practices of turnaround teachers and low-ability learners. I theorize about the teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and strategies, and explore the ways by which they relate, encourage, and increase agency for students who have had little success academically.

Before joining UBC, I was a research fellow at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, and taught at the graduate level and in school leadership programmes. Coupled with my experiences as a plant biology major, former high school teacher of biology, and designer and reviewer of science curriculum materials, these experiences provide the platform by which I theorize and explore the phenomena of teaching and learning.

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