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Doctoral Programs at King's College London and UC Santa Cruz

CILS students enroll in programs at KCL or UCSC with a plan to pursue questions related to learning across informal and formal settings. In addition to their core program, they participate in several CILS programs, including monthly video conference reading groups linking KCL, UCSC, and the Exploratorium; an annual Summer School led by CILS and postdocs from the three institutions; the annual Bay Area Institute, which convenes ~150 science education leaders from research, practice and policy spanning informal and formal settings. CILS doctoral students have the option to conduct their dissertation data collection at the Exploratorium or at other partnering informal science institutions.

KCL Doctoral Program in Science Education

CILS programs at King's College London has four main foci: (1) science inquiry, (2) argumentation and discourse processes, (3) the role of narrative, and (4) technology and mediation processes. The PhD program at KCL is three years long, and students begin collecting data for their thesis at the end of their first year. To support this focus on the individual research project, students follow a program of taught courses, seminars and workshops. Topics addressed in this program include: models of best pedagogical practice; philosophical and epistemological perspectives on the structure of scientific knowledge and inquiry; cognitive and social psychological perspectives on learning; and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Research interests of CILS core faculty include:

  • The creation of inquiry learning environments that provide embedded assessment processes to capture students' abilities to interpret evidence, make predictions and reach conclusions (Richard Duschl).
  • Supporting learners in using the discourse of science. Understanding the conditions that promote argumentation among learners. Examining the strengths and weaknesses of using narratives to communicate science (Jonathan Osborne).
  • Using new communication technologies in museum settings to enhance interaction and provide a foundation of cooperation and learning (Christian Heath).
  • Supporting student and teacher science learning and practices through environmental education programs that incorporate resources across both formal and informal settings (Justin Dillon).

UCSC Doctoral Programs in Education or Developmental Psychology

Research interests of the CILS core and associated faculty at UC Santa Cruz emphasize a socio-cultural approach to learning and focus on discourse and communication, the nature of science and mathematics learning in different settings, and on learning in diverse communities traditionally underserved by schools. The program in both departments follows an apprenticeship model, preparing students to conduct research on learning in formal and informal environments. Research interests of CILS core faculty include:

  • Cultural variation in the organization of people's participation in shared problem solving in cultural institutions such as schools, museums, and families (Barbara Rogoff).
  • Young children's informal science learning, including their "why" questions, in the context of family conversations and the development of their intuitive theories about scientific domains (Maureen Callanan).
  • The ways in which institutional settings and fields are historically and culturally shaped, and how these affect the equitable availability of opportunities for learning (Rod Ogawa).
  • English- and Spanish-speaking family conversations and scientific sense- making in informal settings (Doris Ash).
  • The study of mathematics discourse and relationships of everyday mathematical practices in academic and non-academic environments (Judit Moschkovich).


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