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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is home to several policy research centers and additional faculty research programs with P-20 education connections.  The list that follows provides descriptions and contact/website information where available.  Know of something that is not detailed here?  Please contact us at any time to add to this list. 


Center for Applied Science and Mathematics for Innovation and Competitivenes


Website: CASMIC

CASMIC is designed to promote partnerships between the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, school districts, other institutions of higher education, and the business sector to: Create opportunities for all students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for career exploration in disciplines requiring math and science, advocate for policy that promotes teaching, learning, and research of math and science in applied settings, examine behavioral and social environments and their influence on math and science learning, bridge gaps across K-20 schools, colleges and universities, community advocates, and business partners so that students can harness math and science to be competitive in a global society and promote innovation across the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology to expand interdisciplinary learning, teaching, and research, CASMIC began with funding from former math and science grant with NSF, and funded the Rocky Mountain Math and Science Partnership (12.5 million dollars),  as well as other grants that supported development of courses on-line, DPS summer teacher internships,  and teaching innovation fellows.  

GK-12 Graduate Grant 

Website: GK-12 Graduate Grant

Five-year grant by the National Science Foundation which supports sending  8 graduate students in mathematics and the sciences (GK-12 Fellows) into classrooms in Englewood and Jefferson County schools starting fall of 2008 to help build a learning community and assist science and mathematics teachers.Working with grades 6-8, GK-12 Fellows will focus on many facets of education in the middle grades in cooperation with a science and mathematics teacher with supervision by Mathematics and Science faculty from CU Denver.

Rocky Mountain Math Teacher’s Circle


The Rocky Mountain Math Teacher’s Circle is for middle-level math teachers who would like to focus on improving teachers' mathematical problem solving.  Our local chapter began in 2009 in partnership with the St. Vrain Valley School District, and is part of a national network of Math Teachers' Circles loosely organized through the American Institute of Mathematics.  We have now expanded to include teachers from any district, and while most participating teachers are from the Denver Metro area, we do have participants come from as far away as Aspen and Ft. Collins.  We hold a one-week summer immersion workshop in which a variety of mathematicians, statisticians, and teachers facilitate mathematical problem solving sessions for participants.  In addition, academic year sessions are held on Saturday mornings approximately once per month.  Graduate Credit or Continuing Education Units are available to participants. 

Rocky Mountain Noyce Scholars Scholarships

The Rocky Mountain Noyce Scholars Program at the University of Colorado Denver aims to recruit, train and provide financial support for undergraduate mathematics students interested in developing the skills necessary to become effective secondary math educators. Paid academic year and summer internship opportunities are available to freshman and sophomores who are interested in working with middle and high school students in an educational setting to see if becoming a math teacher may be something they want to pursue.  Scholarships of at least $14,000 per year are available for the last two years of study for undergraduates in the undergraduate math licensure program. 

Rocky Mountain-Middle School Math Science Partnership (RM-MSMSP) 

Website: RM-MSMSP

The University of Colorado Denver an in collaboration with four other institutions of higher education, seven school districts, one BOCES, and the National Science Foundation initiated the Rocky Mountain-Middle School Math and Science Partnership (RMMS-MSP) in fall 2004.  The purpose of the partnership is to increase student achievement in grades 6-8. Through the partnership, teachers participate in professional learning development courses and thus increase their impact on student learning through increasingly effective instruction in mathematics and science.  In addition, the teacher participants in the RM MSMSP professional learning will help create a cadre of mathematics and science leaders across Colorado. In addition to professional development of teachers, middle school students are able to participate in summer mathematics and science camps which will increase their understandings of central concepts in mathematics and science.


The following is a list of faculty members who are working on or are connected to education research.  More information on individual professors may be accessed through their department's website.

Joanne Addison: English
Dr. Addison's interest is in children in foster care. She conducts socially progressive empirical research, and is in the beginning stages of a documentary on "good-bye visits."  She is interested in exploring partnerships between Head Start and foster care systems that provide children with stability and quality early childhood educational opportunities.

Casey Allen: Geography: 
Dr. Allen is interested in how undergrads and middle school kids learn in field science contexts.  General research threads span three main areas: spatiality of biological soil crusts, rock art management, and alternative pedagogy in science, earth and environmental sciences as well as geography education. Dr. Allen has also conducted research on improving minority and female student learning through fieldwork in introductory physical geography courses. 

Geography Assessment

Contact:,  Dept. of Geography
DPS is developing a district-wide assessment instrument for their high school geography classes.  Developing this instrument has involved monthly meetings at DPS, consisting of a group of geography teachers, administrators, and assessment specialists.  The Department of Geography has participated in this effort by sending one of its members, Peter Anthamatten, to these meetings in order to advise and assist with the work.  Peter has also composed some maps for the project.

John Carlson: Physics
Dr. Carlson has a background in physics education research.

Greg Cronin: Biology
Dr. Cronin has an interest in experiential learning and his academic background is aquatic ecology and plant-herbivore interaction.

Steve Culpepper: Math 
Dr. Culpepper is interested in using statistical methods to study data driven decisions in district. His Journal of Educational Measurement paper examines whether state selection indices, like the admission index in Colorado, are statistically appropriate. Dr. Culpepper is currently analyzing data on FY experience in Science coursework in collaboration with Carole Basile and Charlie Ferguson.

Todd Duncan: Biology
Dr. Duncan has an interest in transitions from high school to college, especially factors that play into student success.   He is collecting data on the topic as part of tests he gives in classes. 

Charlie Ferguson: Biology
Dr. Ferguson has expertise in science teaching pedagogy and the first year experience.  Dr. Ferguson has collected data on first-year biology student experiences pre-college and during first-year coursework.

Paula Fomby: Sociology
Dr. Fomby investigates the effect of changes in family structure on children’s behavior and achievement. She also considers the effects of poverty status and school experiences on the adjustment of immigrant children.

Laurel Hartley: Biology
Dr. Hartley's research interests are related to the teaching and learning of Biology and Ecology, mostly at the 6-16 grade levels.  Dr. Hartley also has an interest in student understanding of complexity in environments, how learning progressions (descriptions of how students develop understanding of a certain topic over time) can be efficiently developed and used to inform curriculum decisions, and the role that informal science education can play in developing science literacy.

Projects either in process or in development include:

How college students reason about the carbon cycle: Dr. Hartley and colleagues have been developing assessments and teaching experiments to look at how students use principles (conservation of matter and energy) to reason across scale (e.g. cell, whole organism, ecosystem, globe) and  carbon cycling processes (photosynthesis, oxidation, transformation).  Dr. Hartley and collaborators have also been exploring the similarities and differences in how the principles of conservation of matter and energy are taught in college biology, chemistry and physics courses. 

Developing a K-12 learning progression for biodiversity:  Learning progressions are descriptions of how students build knowledge over time.  Learning progression research is about 1) exploring whether students build knowledge in predictable ways, 2) how we can connect information from grade to grade and from topic to topic, 3) how we can better decide what content is important to teach and 4) what kinds of instruction lead to efficient progression.

Using real data for inquiry in college classes: Dr. Hartley is working with the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado to help make over 100 years of research data available to college students across the country to use in inquiry-based lessons.   They are also studying how access to real data sets impacts college student's understanding of the process of science.

Dr. Hartley's research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Mike Jacobson: Math
PI and Director for GK-12 Fellows (TELC) project.  The project sends 8 graduate students in mathematics and the sciences (GK-12 Fellows) into classrooms in Englewood and Jefferson County schools starting fall of 2008 to help build a learning community and assist science and mathematics teachers.

Lisa Johansen: Biology
Dr. Johansen works with high school teachers in biotechnology. Currently she is working with 8 high schools where kids are working on her research.

Doris Kimbrough: Chemistry
Dr. Kimbrough's background includes chemistry Education, and she is the principle investigator of the Rocky Mountain Middle School Math and Science Project.  She is currently working on large STEM grant for NSF utilizing K-12, higher education and the STEM corporate community (TEAMS-21).

Randall Tagg:  Physics
Research in nonlinear dynamics, fluid dynamics, biophysics, medical instrumentation, and condensed matter physics. Dr. Tagg is interested in engaging undergraduates in research experiences and has written a book on Student-Centered research. He has created a learning laboratory (AETPL –see external relationships) that converts new scientific findings and technical advancements into viable technologies and products.  Many of the projects in the lab focus on biomedical innovations.  

Diane White: Math

Diana White, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences ​


Website: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 



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