Jim Kisiel

(James Kisiel)
Department Chair, and Professor

Courses Taught at CSULB

  • SCED 401: A Process Approach to Science
  • SCED 404: The Nature of Science and Scientific Reasoning
  • SCED 551: Science Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Models
  • SCED 552: Nature of Science
  • SCED 553: Science Learning in Informal Settings
  • SCED 563: Special Topics/Advanced Practices in Informal Science Education
  • EDSS 300C: Introduction to Teaching Science

Research Interests

My experiences as an educator and evaluator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, as well as earlier work as high school science teacher at an urban Catholic school in Los Angeles, have really shaped my career trajectory and ongoing interest in informal learning and science education. Much of my research has examined the intersection of formal (classroom) and informal (museum, after-school) learning environments, and how such contexts can work together to support student (and teacher) science learning.

I have worked with practitioners and researchers in institutions throughout Southern California to better understand institutional perspectives, the challenges and benefits of collaboration, and the professional development needs of informal educators. I’ve been able to develop and sustain an Informal Education Option in our Master of Science in Science Education program and have helped local museum, aquarium and zoo educators strengthen their understanding of science learning and evaluation in non-school settings.

A recent sabbatical at the California Science Center provided additional opportunities for engaging in evaluation and strategic planning, as well as updated understandings of the inner-workings of these institutions (since it had been some time since I was last employed full-time by informal learning institution.) I was truly fortunate to have a chance to recalibrate and better understand both the constraints and malleability of practice within these kinds of institutions.

I have also been interested in examining family learning in a variety of informal science settings, including collaborative research with Oregon State University where we examined how families engaged with touch tank exhibits.

Current and Recent Projects

Research Synthesis: Examining the Role of Authenticity in Informal Science Learning

Principal Investigator. Funded by National Science Foundation, Advancing Informal Science Learning program. 2019-present

This project seeks to better understand how and/or why authenticity is important (or perhaps really isn't important) for supporting informal science learning by examining current perspectives and research efforts across a variety of disciplines (education, tourism, medical training, marketing, anthropology, etc.). By examining what is already known about authenticity and learning, the project will inform best practices in ISE as well as point to gaps in knowledge that can inform future research. While Phase 1 examines theoretical perspectives via systematic reviews and grey literature, Phase 2 looks more closely at empirical literature with focus on learning-related outcomes attributed to authenticity.

Developing Effective and Engaging Practices in STEM Education: Supporting Learning via University-Community Collaborations

Principal Investigator. Funded by the W.M. Keck Foundation. 2015-2018

For this project, collaborations with local informal learning institutions, including the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Columbia Memorial Space Center, and the California Science Center, were established to provide pre-service elementary and secondary science teachers opportunities for working with youth in an effort to support their development as effective science teachers. A variety of models were examined, including teaching practicum at local after-school programs for students enrolled in science teaching methods classes and an internship program at the Aquarium, Space Center and Science Center for elementary teachers nearing the end of their credential program (either just before or just after their student teaching experience.)

Selected Publications

  • Kisiel, J., Rubin, A. & Wright, T. (2019). Reflecting on Practice through Action Research: The Zoo and Aquarium Action Research Collaborative. In Martin, Ash, and Tran (eds), The Reflective Museum Practitioner.
  • Kisiel, J. (2016). The Promise of Collaboration: Classroom Teachers and the Use of Informal Science Education Resources. In L. Avraamidou & W-M. Roth (Eds.), Intersections of formal and informal science. New York, NY: Routledge
  • Kopczak, C., Kisiel, J., Rowe, S. (2015). Families talking about ecology at touch tanks. Environmental Education Research. 21(1), 129-144.
  • Kisiel, J. (2014). Clarifying the complexities of school-museum interactions: Perspectives from two communities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching (Early view online)
  • Kisiel, J. (2013). Introducing future teachers to science beyond theclassroom. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 24(1), 67-91.
  • Kisiel, J., Rowe, S., Vartabedian, M., Kopczak, C. (2012). Evidence for family engagement in scientific reasoning at interactive animal exhibits. Science Education, 96, 1047-1070.
  • Kisiel, J. (2010). Exploring a school-aquarium collaboration: An intersection of communities of practice. Science Education, 94(1), 95-121.
  • Abraham-Sliver, L. & Kisiel, J. (2008). Comparing visitors’ conceptions of Evolution: Examining understanding outside the United States. Visitor Studies, 11(1), 41-54.
  • MacFadden, B. J., Dunckel, B.A., Ellis, S., Dierking, L.D., Abraham-Silver, L., Kisiel, J., Koke, J. (2007). Natural history museum visitors’ understanding of evolution, BioScience, 57, 875-882.
  • Kisiel, J. (2007) Examining teacher choices for science museum visits. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 18, 29-43.
  • Kisiel, J. (2006) An examination of fieldtrip strategies and their implementation within a natural history museum. Science Education, 90(3), 434-452.
  • Anderson, D; Kisiel, J. & Storksdieck, M. (2006) Understanding teachers' perspectives on field trips: Discovering common ground in three countries. Curator, 49(3), 365-386
  • Kisiel, J. (2006). Making fieldtrips work. The Science Teacher. 73(1), 46-48
  • Kisiel, J. (2005) Understanding Elementary Teacher Motivations for Science Fieldtrips. Science Education, 89(6), 936-955.
  • Kisiel, J. (2003). Teachers, museums and worksheets: A closer look at a learning experience. Journal of Science Teacher Education 14(1), 3-21.