Barbara Austin, Associate Professor of Education, joined the Wittenberg Education Department in August of 2011. She teaches courses in science education at the early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescent levels and general education at the middle childhood levels. Prior to teaching at Wittenberg University, Dr. Austin was an Assistant Professor of Science Education at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in the Center for Science Teaching and Learning. During her tenure at NAU, Dr. Austin participated in the re-design of multiple science education courses and programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to her appointment at NAU, Dr. Austin was an Assistant Professor of Science and Math Education at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) in Socorro, NM. At both NMT and NAU, Dr. Austin has been active in providing professional development to in-service teachers in the area of science education. Dr. Austin has given multiple presentations and workshops on teaching physical science to young children, teaching science through inquiry, and standards-based instruction. She has been a co-Principal Investigator and/or program designer of several Math and Science Partnership (MSP) projects funded by the Arizona Department of Education and served as the principal director of the Teacher as Investigator program at NAU during its first year of funding. The Teacher as Investigator program provided summer research experiences for middle and high school math and science teachers.
Dr. Austin received her Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Chemistry from the University of Arizona (1992). Following her graduation, she worked as an electro-organic chemist and co-authored four patents on electrochromic devices. Concurrently she worked in the standardized-testing industry where she taught strategies for success on standardized tests, trained new teachers, and wrote practice test materials, training materials, and curriculum materials. Through these experiences, Dr. Austin fell in love with teaching and went back to school to receive her teaching credentials. She taught middle school math and high school physics prior to earning a doctorate in Science Education from the University of Texas at Austin (2004).
Dr. Austin’s teaching interests lie in the use of technology to assist in the collaborative generation of knowledge. She feels it is important to prepare teachers to work in 21st Century schools and thus she embeds the use of Web 2.0 applications such as Wikis, blogs, online simulations, and twitter in many of her course assignments. Dr. Austin’s recent scholarly work has focused on teacher reasoning about lesson sequence. As part of this work, she has developed several visual organizers that assist teachers in aligning standards, objectives, assessments, and learning events. She is also working on the design of an instrument that elicits teacher thinking about lesson sequencing. This instrument is currently being piloted in the NAUTeach program, the secondary science and math teacher certification program at NAU that is part of the National Math and Science Initiative’s scale-up of the UTeach program from the University of Texas at Austin.