Associate Professor of the Practice of Science Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Director of Secondary Education, Department of Teaching and Learning
Heather Johnson's research interests involve looking at supports for teacher learning and how these supports affect teacher practice and ultimately student learning. Supports include everything from curriculum materials to professional development, coaching, and university courses. Specifically, she is interested in developing and using supports to help teachers attend and respond to student ideas about science and then identifying how teachers differentially adjust their practice in response to these supports. Video analysis, through video clubs or as a coaching practice, has been a common thread through much of her work as it helps explicitly direct preservice and inservice teachers to notice and respond to student thinking in the rough and tumble of science practice.
Heather Johnson is also the PI of an NSF-funded Noyce Scholarship Program, entitled Mobilizing STEM Talent for STEM Teaching. The project is a collaboration effort between Vanderbilt University, Fisk University, and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to create a sustainable pipeline for STEM teachers. In general, the program is designed to recruit and retain STEM teachers in urban secondary schools. In particular, this is a program for undergraduate and graduate STEM majors at Vanderbilt and Fisk University who are interested in exploring a career in education but may not have started on that pathway initially. The program is committed to improving K-12 science and math education in urban schools. It is designed to provide a trajectory of coursework, urban classroom experiences, and a supportive cohort to help the scholars succeed as highly qualified teachers in urban schools.