Advance Copy: Dr. Matt Kloser

Welcome back to Advance Copy, a look at the people, perspectives, and scholarship of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, home to the University of Notre Dame’s initiatives advancing its long-standing commitment to the future of K-12 schools.


Matt Kloser

Just Published:

From Harvard Education Press, Preparing Science Teachers Through Practice-Based Teacher Education

“Comparing Teacher Education Pedagogies to Support Core Practices: A View From Two Secondary Methods Courses" and is co-authored with Mark Windschitl at the University of Washington.

Hails from:

The Land of Milk and Honey: Warsaw, IN


Center for STEM Education


Ph.D. in Science Education, Stanford University
M.S. in Biology, Stanford University
M.Ed., University of Notre Dame
B.A., History and Pre-Professional Studies, University of Notre Dame


Science Education

Favorite place on the Notre Dame campus:

There’s so many good ones. I really like the Tom Dooley statue right at the edge of the Grotto.

What drew you back to Notre Dame?

As a Catholic from Indiana, Notre Dame was always a second home. The intersection of community and faith: pushing our understanding intellectually. It’s a place where I felt I could fully be myself and also push myself.

Why this book and why now?

This is definitely not my book. It’s a book from the field that has three amazing co-editors in David Stroupe, Karen Hammerness, and Scott McDonald: people who I now work with in different capacities. There’s been a movement that’s rooted in decades of work on how we create more intellectually rigorous and equitable classrooms. How do we prepare teachers to do that in increasingly diverse settings? The whole group is focused on ambitious science teaching. Young people can do phenomenal thinking about science and do elements of science that are often left behind when we treat science as what Schwab would call “a rhetoric of conclusions.” All of those ideas come from somewhere—and too often we leave behind those – especially who are marginalized – by focusing on facts and trying to engage in rote memorization. This book is focused on training teachers in a field that doesn’t have a standardized mechanism for doing so, in ways that reflect the amazing capacity that young people have in a science context. There are things we can do at scale across multiple institutions so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can work as a community to build the tools, resources, and language necessary to have really impactful and effective teacher education. This book pulled together authors who believe this and who are now working together even more so after the creation of this book to further science teacher education.

What do you say to someone who thinks they are not a “STEM person”?

Everyone should feel that they are a STEM person. They may not choose a STEM career, but when you walk around nature and wonder and see something that makes you curious and you want to know more about it… that’s you wanting to engage in the scientific world. Seeing how patterns and shapes work… you’re a math person! We’ve made it such that we think of things as learning in an in-school context, but we have to think: how do we unleash that for you now?

What drives your passion for STEM?

First and foremost is wonder and awe. It can be from a secular or faith perspective. Nature is amazing and wonderful. If we take this idea of being made in the image and likeness of God, part of the image of God is taking part in creative endeavors. We’ve developed a power over time to explain the world around us. To create and design in ways that produce new tools and new possibilities. For me, it’s part of that wonder and awe that the world around us has predictive value. The second is, young people—and I think all people— are naturally curious. So how do we engage the world around us and address those curiosities. Science provides one means that is reliable to answering some of those questions. Third, science is useful. It does things for us. It is a body of knowledge that can be used for the common good. Those three things working together are a great reason why I work in science education.

Is there something that particularly sparked your curiosity for STEM?

I’ve always been fascinated by science. I wish I could have my K-12 science education back and even part of my undergraduate education because I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I think I would’ve been even more on fire. I was too grade-oriented and worried about getting the right answer. I missed the forest through the trees of the big things I could think about, question, and try to use data to answer. I would’ve loved to have the mindset I do now when I was growing up. I believe I would’ve gone down the same path, but I would’ve maximized those learning opportunities even more.

Is there something you want children to understand about STEM?

There is school-based science education, and that’s a great place for this to happen. But don’t try to do school science. Try to engage in science and learn about science for its own sake. It can help be a force for good in the world. It can help you shape your own future and decisions. Keep maximizing your curiosity and keep asking questions that you want to answer about the world.

What is the biggest positive to being a part of the Center for STEM Education?

We’re working together but bringing unique perspectives and talents—a lot of people talk about translation of research to practice—but as a Center, we are wholly committed and wholly living that out every day. We’re working with teachers, striving to make a difference in the lives of young people through the formation of teachers and great STEM teacher-leaders. That is influencing the type of research questions we take up. Our programs are providing data for those research. We’re also doing basic research that is funneling right into many of our programs and influencing them in ways that wouldn’t if they were static, standalone professional development experiences. That duality of always thinking about the research and the practice together - they are part and parcel to each other.

What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning a career in science education research?

Find great questions and don’t be afraid to commit to questions that have social value. There are misperceptions of researchers as totally objective and removed from application. One can do high-quality research that has been critiqued and accepted by the community that also has implications for young people, teachers, and learning systems. If we spend more time on finding good problem spaces and asking great questions, the methods and data follow more easily, resulting in higher impact for the field.