The Mallinson Institute for Science Education

MISE is a graduate, research-oriented unit that is devoted to science education and to the study and improvement of how people teach and learn science.

Director: Bill Cobern
Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University
Established: 1996

Profile submitted by Bill Cobern

Vision and Goals

The George G. Mallinson Institute for Science Education is a research-oriented unit that is devoted to science education and to the study and improvement of how people teach and learn science. The Institute teaches undergraduate science courses for elementary education majors and offers two graduate degree programs. The Master's in Science Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Science Education degrees are offered for teachers of science at both K-12 and college levels. The graduate programs are science content focused with attention to effective pedagogy. The Institute offers a unique program of concurrent-enrollment between the Institute and five science departments at WMU. Students concurrently enroll in one of five master's programs in science along with doctoral enrollment at the Institute in science education. This program is ideal preparation for college level science teaching and for research in science education. The Mallinson Institute is also the home for Science and Mathematics Program Improvement, whose staff evaluate the efficacy of education programs, especially in mathematics and science.

Center/Program Structure

MISE is an interdisciplinary science and education unit within the College of Arts and Sciences. There are 10 faculty members including the director. Eight members hold joint appointments in science departments and one in teacher education. The 10th member is fully appointed at MISE. There are also two adjunct professors, an office coordinator and a full time lab coordinator. The PhD program focuses on full time students (26 for fall 2013) where the program has six strands: biology, chemistry, geosciences, physical geography, physics and science education. Students are divided between those interested in science teacher education, disciplinary-focused science education research, and the college teaching of science. All full time PhD students have some form of financial support.

MISE also offers an MA in science education designed to meet the needs of practicing teachers who wish to broaden their science backgrounds. The program is offered fully online.

MISE is responsible for six science content courses taken by k-8 teacher education majors, and methods courses for secondary science majors.

As a research-focused program, faculty are encouraged to cooperate within MISE, with faculty in the science departments and teacher education, and with colleagues in other institutions including k-12 schools. Faculty are also strongly encouraged and supported in the pursuit of external funding.

Finally, within MISE there is also an evaluation unit, the Science and Mathematics Program Improvement group (SAMPI). SAMPI conducts client-centered, user-friendly program evaluations and professional consultations for K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, the State of Michigan Department of Education, non-profit organizations, and other education entities.

Description of Programming

  1. MISE has a unique program for the preparation of college teachers of science that operates cooperatively with five science departments at WMU.
  2. Given the large number of faculty in science education and the large number of full time doctoral students, MISE has a unique environment of research groups.
  3. MISE has been very successful at supporting full time doctoral students.
  4. MISE has a strong focus on international cooperation.

Successes and Impacts

  1. Many research articles by MISE faculty are widely cited.
  2. SAMPI has had a major impact in the Great Lakes area in program evaluation.
  3. Cooperative research efforts with Kalamazoo Public Schools.
  4. Developing a strong, science-focused k-8 teacher education program.

Elements Contributing to Success

MISE is located in the College of Arts and Sciences at WMU with faculty holding joint appointments in the sciences and teacher education. This arrangement is a major factor in our success. We are able to offer six science courses for the k-8 teacher education program which supports teaching assistantships. Each course is headed by a MISE faculty member who leads an instructional team of 2-4 doctoral students. This arrangement helps both to support a large number of doctoral students but also provides our 'labs' for the study of effective science teaching.

MISE has also been very successful in the pursuit of NSF funding. That funding not only supports our research mission but also graduate students and post-docs.

MISE also has an endowment which supports student research and travel.

Supplemental Materials

Intro to MISE 2011 (Acrobat (PDF) 3.2MB Jul8 13)
Doctoral program flow chart (Acrobat (PDF) 152kB Jul8 13)