Kristin Gunckel (Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2008) is an associate professor of Science Education. Her work focuses on environmental science literacy and elementary teacher preparation. Prior to obtaining her Ph.D., Dr. Gunckel was a middle school science teacher, environmental educator, and a geologist.
Dr. Gunckel has been a leader on designing curriculum materials, pedagogical practices, and assessments to support students in developing model-based understandings of the movement of water through environmental systems. She is co-developer of the Water Systems Learning Progression that outlines how children’s ideas about water change over time. Her work on the water cycle strand of the Culturally Relevant Ecology, Learning Progressions and Environmental Literacy project (funded by the National Science Foundation) included the development of curriculum materials to support middle and high school teachers in using learning progressions to teach about water. As co-PI on the NSF-funded Tools for Reasoning for Understanding Water Systems project, she helped develop classroom formative assessments and instructional tools based on the Water Systems Learning Progression. She is currently co-PI on the Comp Hydro project, also funded by NSF, to integrate hydrologic principles, data sense-making, and computational thinking into Earth and environmental science courses. This multi-state project involves developing curriculum materials that engage high school students in understanding models of groundwater and surface water flow. The Arizona strand of the project also has social and environmental justice components because it engages students in understanding models of groundwater contamination and remediation that have disproportionately impacted their communities.
Effective science education for environmental literacy requires strong preparation of teachers of science, especially in the elementary grades where science instruction is typically weakest. In this area, Dr. Gunckel she was a leader in the development of the Inquiry-Application Instructional Model (I-AIM) to help preservice teachers use and modify curriculum materials to plan and teach lessons that place experiences before explanations and engage students in scientific practices. Her published research has explored how preservice teachers use this instructional model when planning and teaching science. In addition, her work on the NSF-funded Beyond Bridging: Co-education of Preservice and Inservice Elementary Teachers in Science and Mathematics project focused on supporting preservice teachers in making connections between what they learn in university science methods courses and their field placement classrooms in schools. Dr. Gunckel uses multiple theoretical lenses to understand how preservice and mentor teacher interact in these co-learning environments.
Dr. Gunckel teaches science methods courses in the elementary teacher preparation program and graduate courses in science education.