Our Mission

The Department of Science Education at California State University, Chico is committed to providing the North State with the highest quality science education for all learners, programs for teacher subject matter preparation and professional development, and research on teaching and learning to promote scientific appreciation and understanding.

About the Department

Early History

The efforts of many faculty on this campus over several years culminated in the formation of the Department of Science Education on July 2, 2008. Prior to this, the College of Natural Sciences consisted of seven departments, each with independent programs for current and future classroom teachers, K- 12 students, and non-science majors. In recognition of the disjointed nature of departmental efforts and the tendency of individual units to forefront other needs over science education, the College launched a major effort to unify and improve its programs in science education. 

Who We Are

Through our teaching, we serve CSU Chico undergraduates who want to share their passion for science with others (e.g. future K-9 teachers, outdoor educators, museum educators, park rangers, science writers, etc.) Through our service, we support inservice K-12 science teachers in the North State area through professional development programs and outreach to local schools. We serve in advisory capacities for both local and national science education efforts. Through our research, we develop novel models of science instruction, investigate the articulation of ideas across science classes and disciplines, and research novel models of professional development — this both informs our own teaching practice and provides a research base of import to the field of science education.

What We Do

For CSU Chico students, we provide science content instruction that exemplifies best practices in science instruction. That is, our own teaching exemplifies the inquiry-based, hands-on, active, constructivist, scaffolded approach that the science education research literature has demonstrated to be most effective. As part of this effort, we actively contribute to that literature with research in our classrooms and in professional development settings.


Our little department has accomplished some very big things since we were founded in 2008:

  • We have won over $3.8 million in grants.
  • The core Liberal Studies science sequence has been completely redesigned to better meet the needs of our students. These innovations have been widely recognized across the state and nation.
  • We were highlighted as one of only three promising programs in California (out of 40 examined) for preparing elementary teachers to teach science.
  • The innovative Hands-On Lab serves as a model across the CSU for providing early practicum experiences for future teachers.
  • Our course, NSCI 321 - Scientific Inquiry, was a finalist in a national competition honoring groundbreaking innovations in STEM education.
  • A BA in Natural Sciences was established in 2011 to provide science training for students with broad science interests that cut across departments. We already have 36 majors and 7 graduates!

Our Vision

The Department of Science Education at CSU, Chico is a crucible for innovations and excellence in science teaching and learning, a collaborative partner with the K-16 North State science education community, and a model program for higher education.