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Tina Grotzer

Tina Grotzer Tina Grotzer  Ed. M., Ed. D.
Principal Research Scientist in Education and Member of the Faculty of Education
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What does working with the Center mean to you?

The Center is important to me because it helps to ground my work in the immediacy of the kinds of problems that we need to address, and that call upon our ability to reason about complex causality. It offers a critical sense of urgency as well as a connection to a wider, multidisciplinary community who cares about the environmental concerns that are at the core of my work.


Tina Grotzer is a cognitive scientist whose research identifies ways in which understandings about the nature of causality impact our ability to deal with complexity in our world. Her work has important implications for how we deal with global and ecological issues and is concerned with the environmental injustices that result from our inability to reason well about complexity.  Her work leverages classroom settings and technology to teach students about ecosystems and causal complexity. Tina directs the Causal Learning in a Complex World Research Lab. It has four dominant strands: 1) How reasoning about causal complexity interacts with our decisions in the everyday world; 2) How causal understanding develops in supported contexts; 3) How causal understanding interacts with science learning (with the goal of developing curriculum to support deep understanding); and 4) the public understanding of science given the nature of science, the nature of causal complexity and the architecture of the human mind. Her work is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). She received a Career Award from NSF in 2009 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2011, one of the highest honors given by the United States government to researchers at this stage in their careers.

Tina is Co-Principal Investigator with Chris Dede on the EcoLEARN Projects (EcoMOBILE, EcoXPT and EcoMOD), funded by the NSF, extensions of an earlier project, EcoMUVE, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The projects involve developing and testing technological tools including virtual worlds and hand-held mobile devices to teach the inherent ecosystems complex causal dynamics to middle school students. She is deeply committed to helping teachers use the knowledge gained through her research and has authored the Causal Patterns in Science curriculum series and a recent book entitled, Learning Causality in a Complex World: Understandings of Consequence. She collaborates with scientists from diverse organizations including the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, and the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She has advised science and sustainability-oriented programs for children's television. Prior to her work at HGSE, Grotzer was a program coordinator and teacher in public and private schools for 14 years. She received her doctorate and her master's from Harvard University following her undergraduate degree at Vassar College. Tina teaches courses focused on the intersection of cognitive science and education.

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