I attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. (USA) for my undergraduate degree from 1988-1993. There, I majored in Biological Science and earned a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate from MSU’s nationally ranked secondary teacher education program. From 1991-1993, I was a member of one of the first cohorts of the Department of Teacher Education’s Academic Learning Program, a practical extension of MSU’s Institute for Research on Teaching and Learning (IRTL). Founded at MSU in 1976, the IRTL conducted major research projects aimed at improving classroom teaching and some of its early researchers included the likes of Robert Floden, William Schmidt, Lee Shulman, Fred Erickson, Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Susan Florio-Ruane, and Jere Brophy.

The IRTL’s Academic Learning Program aimed to prepare elementary and secondary teachers who could foster conceptual understanding of school subjects. The program emphasized three areas of knowledge: (1) a broad understanding of the disciplinary roots of school subjects, (2) knowledge about how pupils learn in different subject areas, and (3) knowledge of effective teaching strategies that promote conceptual understanding. The program consisted of an integrated sequence of core courses with related field experiences. During my time in the program I was mentored by a number of well-known science teacher educators and researchers including Charles (Andy) Anderson, Ed Smith, James (Jim) Gallagher, Kathleen (Kathy) Roth, and Joyce Parker.