Alison Riley Miller

Assistant Professor of Education

Teaching this semester

EDUC 2260. Science Education: Purpose, Policy, and Potential

Why do all Americans need to learn science and what are we doing to improve science education in our schools? With the release of the Next Generation Science Standards and in response to America’s poor standing on international assessments of math and science, there has been a shift in public interest and dialogue around why and how we teach science that is reminiscent of the late 1950s after the Soviet launch of Sputnik. Considers the goals of science education in the United States and explores research and policy related to science curriculum, teaching practice, and student learning.

EDUC 3333. Contemporary Research in Education Studies

Draws together different theoretical, policy, and practice perspectives in education in the United States around a specific topic of inquiry determined by the instructor. Examines methodological perspectives in the field, e.g., quantitative, qualitative, and humanistic research. Students read original, contemporary research and develop skills to communicate with various educational stakeholders.

Professor Miller conducts research that focuses on student learning and engagement with science practices in the context of STEM education. She is particularly interested in students’ engagement with practices around model use in the context of Earth Science and in pedagogical strategies and educational contexts that support such engagement. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Miller taught for nine years at the secondary level and that experience informs her research interests in Earth Science teaching and learning, design-based research, cognitive apprenticeship, and situated learning.


  • B.A., Ithaca College
  • M.A., Arcadia University
  • Ph.D., Columbia


Miller, A.R. & Kastens, K.A. (2017). Investigating the Impacts of Targeted Professional Development around Models and Modeling on Teachers’ Instructional Practice. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.

Miller, A.R. & Eshoo, M. (in review). Nature in play: Creating rich contexts for preschoolers’ engagement with Scientific and Engineering Practices. YC Young Children. ​

Miller, A.R. (in preparation). Variations in model use among student groups engaged in an Earth science problem solving activity: Implications for instruction. Journal of Science Teacher Education.

Selected Conference Presentations & Proceedings

Miller, A.R. (2014, April). Examining the Relationship between Physical Models and Students’ Science Practices. Poster. NARST Annual International Conference, Pittsburgh, PA.

Rivet, A. E., Lyons, C. A., Miller, A. R. (2014, June). Using Models for Reasoning and Content Learning: Patterns of Bootstrapping Towards Earth Science Understandings. The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Boulder, CO.

Miller, A.R., Rivet, A.E., & Lyons, C.A. (2013, April). Emergent Science Practices around Physical Models in Earth Science. Related-Paper Set. NARST Annual International Conference, Puerto Rico.

Kastens, K.A., Rivet, A.E., Lyons, C.A. & Miller, A.R. (2013, October). Teaching and Assessing the NGSS Scientific Practice of Modeling: A Case Study Using Physical Models in Earth Science. Paper. Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, CO.

Rivet, A.E., Miller, A.R., Lyons, C.A., Schmalstig, M., Kastens, K.A. (2013, April). Assessing Science Reasoning Processes Across Topics: Challenges and Opportunities. Poster. AERA Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.

Kastens, K.A., Rivet, A.E., Schmalstig, M., Lyons, C.A., Miller, A.R. (2013, April). Developing a Composite Spatial Abilities Measure for Use in Science Education Research. Paper. AERA Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.

Kastens, K. A., Rivet, A., Lyons, C., & Miller, A.R. (2011, October). Bridging the Gap Between Tabletop Models and the Earth System: Classroom-Based Research on How Teachers Teach and Students Learn from Physical Models. Paper Session No. 221: Geoscience Education VII: Geocognition Research in Classroom, Field, and Laboratory Settings presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Minneapolis, MN.

Kastens, K.A., Rivet, A., Lyons, C., & Miller, A.R. (2011, October) Bridging the Gap Between Tabletop Models and the Earth System. Poster presented at the meeting for Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE), National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.