Skip to main content

College of Education


Main Content

When TCU classes went virtual in March, associate professor Hayat Hokayem and doctoral students Savannah Graham and Alex Tolar needed a way to motivate their undergraduate students to learn scientific concepts in an online environment. Without the use of their typically hands-on learning activities in a classroom, they developed a lesson plan on a subject top of mind for most: COVID-19.

Home DNA experimentHokayem and Graham teach the Science for Elementary Teachers course for future early childhood educators to learn scientific concepts. Tolar joined them to develop lesson plans about how viruses work, how scientists use data to make decisions and how the scientific process changes with new information.

“We wanted to know how students’ views about the scientific process change or don’t change after a unit on COVID-19,” Hokayem said. “There’s also the problem of motivation in distance learning and one way to motivate students is for them to learn about what’s going on in their lives.”

Tolar helped develop the lesson plans to help students learn the nature of science in a time when they receive constant information updates.

“Having these preservice teachers understand the fundamental nature of science helps them understand why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) might change their recommendations, based on new information,” Tolar said.

Graham developed interactive activities for the course, including a home experiment to extract DNA from a strawberry. Her students developed a presentation and a timeline using real-time data. Graham said that while students felt anxious talking about the virus, they were glad to make sense of the information received from many different sources.

COVID-19 timeline

“We looked at maps from the CDC and Johns Hopkins University—real things students were seeing every day,” Graham said. “Students developed their own COVID-19 timelines and chose the events that affected them personally.”

The team published an article on their lesson plans and initial findings in the Electronic Journal for Research in Science & Mathematics Educationalong with many other contributions by TCU faculty and students. The team plans to further their research and to use their work as a model for K-12 educators.

Related Stories

Jan Lacina, Ph.D.
Faculty / Featured

College of Education Professor Receives Deans' Award for Teaching Excellence

Posted on May. 08, 2023, by Teresa Burnett

Jan Lacina, Ph.D., professor and Bezos Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education, was recently awarded the Deans’ Award for Teaching.

Read More
Professor Weinburgh in classroom
Featured / Faculty / COE News

Andrews Institute Awarded Cross-Discipline National Science Foundation Grant

Posted on Mar. 16, 2023, by Elaine Tubre

A new grant will support TCU’s effort to determine how it has implicitly influenced the inequities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments.

Read More
Chancellor Boschini, Paul Andrews, and a woman in lab coats utilizing math/science curriculum
Featured / COE News

Andrews Institute of Mathematics and Science Education Provides Innovation and Change to Benefit Community

Posted on Oct. 12, 2021, by Teresa Monaco Burnett

The institute has grown and changed lives through math and science education thanks to the generous support of Paul and Judy Andrews – including a new $10 million gift for endowed scholarships.

Read More

Recent Stories

Cindy Savage
COE News / Faculty

Cynthia Savage to Oversee Teacher Education and Assessment as Associate Dean

Posted on Aug. 10, 2023, by Teresa Burnett

Professor Cynthia Savage’s role as associate dean of undergraduate studies has recently expanded. She now serves as the associate dean of teacher education, assessment and undergraduate studies in the College of Education at TCU.

Read More
Cara Jones, Ebony Love
COE News / Students

Educational Leadership Students Join Prestigious National Network of Scholars

Posted on Aug. 04, 2023, by Teresa Burnett

Two doctoral students in educational leadership, Cara Jones and Ebony Love, were accepted into the prestigious Barbara Jackson Scholars Network, part of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA).

Read More
Marcella Stark
Faculty / COE News

Marcella Stark Named Board President for National Organization

Posted on Jul. 25, 2023, by Teresa Burnett

Marcella Stark, associate professor and coordinator of the counseling and human services program in the College of Education, was elected as president of the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association’s (SFTBA) board.

Read More


Suggest A Story

Tell us about the person and their story. Please include any contact information you may have for them.

Your Information