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Ala Samarapungavan
The Department of Educational Studies
College of Education, Purdue University

Research

My research focuses on how people learn science from childhood through adulthood adn how they think with and about scientific knowledge. I collaborate with public schools in Indiana to help elementary, middle, and high school teachers infuse inquiry into science instruction and to document student learning.  I also collaborate with researchers in chemistry, engineering, medicine, and veterinary medicine,  on a variety of projects that examine the features of advanced science learning at the college level and beyond. 

I am starting work on an exciting new NSF-funded project (Modeling in the Primary Grades (MPG), PI: Ala Samarapungavan, CoPIs: Lynn Bryan, Nicholas Giordano, Yukiko Maeda) to examine how teachers of second grade students scaffold the development of students' conceptual models and their understanding of the nature of scientific models and modeling processes in the physical sciences. MPG professional development supports teachers' use of a guided-inquiry approach to support students'  explorations of the phases of matter and sound to build coherent physical science knowledge.  more>>

   

Sample Publications 


 

Samarapungavan, A., Patrick, H., & Mantzicopoulos, P. (2011). What Kindergarten Students Learn in Inquiry-Based Science Classrooms. Cognition and Instruction, 29(4), 416-470.
Chinn, C. A., Buckland, L. A., & Samarapungavan, A. (2011). Expanding the dimensions of epistemic cognition: Arguments from philosophy and psychology. Educational Psychologist, 46(3), 1-27.
Samarapungavan, A. (2010). Ontological Assumptions about Species and Their Influence on Children’s Understanding of Evolutionary Biology. In R. Taylor, & M. Ferrari (Eds.), Epistemology and Science Education: Understanding the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Controversy. Springer Publishing.
Chinn, C. A., & Samarapungavan, A. (2009).  Conceptual change—Multiple routes, multiple mechanisms: A Commentary on Ohlsson.  Educational Psychologist, 44(1), 1-10.
Samarapungavan, A. (2009). Theories as a form of knowledge. In E. Anderman, & L. Anderman (Eds.), Psychology of Classroom Learning: An Encyclopedia (PCL). Thomson Gale, Farmington Hills, MI, 48331.

Samarapungavan, A. (2009). Reasoning. In E. Anderman, & L. Anderman (Eds.), Psychology of Classroom Learning: An Encyclopedia (PCL). Thomson Gale, Farmington Hills, MI, 48331.

Chinn, C. A. & Samarapungavan A. (2008). Learning to use scientific models: Multiple dimensions of conceptual change. In R. A. Duschl & R.E. Grandy (Eds.), Establishing a Consensus Agenda for K-12 Science Inquiry (pp. 191-225). Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, NL, 2006.

Samarapungavan, A., Westby, E. L. & Bodner, G. M. (2006). Contextual epistemic development in science: A comparison of chemistry students and research chemists. Science Education, 90 (3), 468-495.

Nakhleh, M., Samarapungavan, A., & Saglam, Y. (2005). Middle school students’ beliefs about matter. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(5), 581-612.

Chinn, C. A., & Samarapungavan, A. (2001) The importance of distinguishing between understanding and belief. Theory into Practice, 40, 235 - 241

Nakhleh, M. B., & Samarapungavan, A. (1999). Elementary school children’s theories of matter. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36(7), 777-805.

Nakhleh, M. B., & Samarapungavan, A. (1999). Elementary school children’s theories of matter. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36(7), 777-805.

Brewer, W. F., Samarapungavan, A., & Chinn, C. (1998). Explanation in scientists and non-scientists. Minds and Machines, 8(1), 119-136.

Samarapungavan, A., & Wiers, R. (1997). Children's thoughts on the origin of species: A study of explanatory coherence. Cognitive Science, 21(2), 147-177.

Samarapungavan, A., Vosniadou, S., & Brewer, W. F. (1996).  Thinking about the earth, sun, and moon: Indian children's cosmologies. Cognitive Development, 11, 491-521.

Samarapungavan, A. (1992).  Children's judgments in theory choice tasks: Scientific rationality in childhood. Cognition, 45, 1-32.

 

Teaching 


 

I teach graduate and undergraduate courses in research methodology and educational psychology. I also offer seminar courses for advanced doctoral students on knowledge acquisition in science and mathematics. I guide graduate student research in the areas of science learning and higher order thinking. more>>

  

Professional History

I trained as a clinical psychologist at the University of Delhi and then obtained my Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois - Champaign.  I then took my first academic position in the Department of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. After  two years in the Netherlands, I accepted a position at  Purdue. more>> 

  

Personal

The special people in my life are my husband Harm HogenEsch and our daughter, Elena HogenEsch.  Oh - and there is one significant other as well - our dog Sasha.

 

 

 
 
Ala Samarapungavan Photo

Ala Samarapungavan
College of Education, Purdue University 
Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education
Room 5108D
West Lafayette, Indiana, 47907-1446 
Voice: (765) 494-7321
Fax: (765) 496-1228 
Email: ala@purdue.edu

 

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