Archive for September, 2019

New Publication Alert!

Investigating Instructor Talk in Novel Contexts: Widespread Use, Unexpected Categories, and an Emergent Sampling Strategy


Instructor Talk—noncontent language used by instructors in classrooms—is a recently defined and promising variable for better understanding classroom dynamics. Having previously characterized the Instructor Talk framework within the context of a single course, we present here our results surrounding the applicability of the Instructor Talk framework to noncontent language used by instructors in novel course contexts. We analyzed Instructor Talk in eight additional biology courses in their entirety and in 61 biology courses using an emergent sampling strategy. We observed widespread use of Instructor Talk with variation in the amount and category type used. The vast majority of Instructor Talk could be characterized using the originally published Instructor Talk framework, suggesting the robustness of this framework. Additionally, a new form of Instructor Talk—Negatively Phrased Instructor Talk, language that may discourage students or distract from the learning process—was detected in these novel course contexts. Finally, the emergent sampling strategy described here may allow investigation of Instructor Talk in even larger numbers of courses across institutions and disciplines. Given its widespread use, potential influence on students in learning environments, and ability to be sampled, Instructor Talk may be a key variable to consider in future research on teaching and learning in higher education.

To read more on this, click the following link:



New Publication Alert!

Science Advances – Evolving roles of scientists as change agents in science education over a decade: SFES roles beyond discipline-based education research 


To what extent have positions for science education specialists as change agents within science departments persisted and evolved over the past decade? We addressed this question by studying a population of Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES) first described in 2008. SFES are university science faculty who engage in undergraduate science education, K-12 science education, and/or research in science education. Compared to a decade ago, SFES are now more prevalent and more likely to be formally trained in science education. Many identify as discipline-based education researchers (DBER) but assert that their SFES and DBER roles are nonequivalent. SFES have garnered university administrator support through varied science education activities, and these insights into the evolving role of scientists in science education have implications for many stakeholders.


To learn more about this article, follow this link:


Also see an SFSU press release about the article here:

Dianna Cazarez


About Me

I grew up in Long Beach, CA and moved up north in 2009 to attend San Francisco State University where I graduated Fall 2015 with a BA in General Biology. As an undergraduate I worked with Jumpstart an Early Literacy Program, then with the Boys & Girls Club Afterschool School Program where I am currently employed. In the last 5 years I have moved up from a part time position to now the Director of Programs and Services serving over 3,00 Bay Area youth. In this position I’ve been given the opportunity to survey the impact STEM (emphasis on Science & Tech) programming has had on our youth and staff. My findings made me realize that k-12 schooling is not equipping our youth and future scientist with the tools to be successful in the sciences because it is not representative of what higher education science courses are really like. This is why I sought out a Master’s degree with SEPAL to help me figure out what I can do to change this cycle from continuing to occur and how we can support what happens in the classroom in our after-school programs.

While my research is yet undecided, I do have a couple of focuses that I am eager to explore. One is: how can we bridge the gap between CoSE undergrads and high school/middle school students to help them prepare for college level science courses? And if an infrastructure were set in place could we create a peer advising system that might be able to match compatibility and/or common research interest from current to incoming students? Although, these questions may or may not be my final research topics I think they are highly important and hope to keep them in mind while at SEPAL.

Matthew Boser

Matthew Boser

Degree: Master of Science in Physiology and Behavioral Biology

Advisor: Kimberly Tanner, PhD


About me

I didn’t travel more than a couple hours west of the Atlantic coast until taking a field assistant job in the Black Hills, South Dakota, on a team studying reproductive endocrinology in wild birds. I earned an A.S. from Asnuntuck Community College, and a B.S. in biology from Eastern Connecticut State University and shortly after relocated to Oakland, CA. I enjoy hearing and performing music, building music instrument amplifiers, birding, pets, fantasy and science fiction, and the outdoors.

Teaching and Research Interests

I began my instructional training in adult education for incarcerated people seeking a high school diploma. I’ve co-taught sex-positive sexuality education and discussion and laboratory courses for undergraduate students in nursing, kinesiology, and biology. The research and policy projects to which I’ve contributed include prevention of sexual violence and sexual harassment in educational environments and broadening professional development for graduate students. My current research asks if we can better understand and address the proximate causes of systemic neglect of particular groups of students by institutions of higher education and the sciences.


SFSU Alumni News from Dr. Melo Yap!

About Dr. Melo Yap

She was a first-generation college student. Her interdisciplinary training in Biology, Education, and Ethnic Studies shaped her versatility in using concurrent methodologies to advance research on underrepresented groups in STEM fields. At UCLA, she studied the influences to the scientific thinking of women of color STEM majors in the community college via mixed methods approach of qualitative questionnaire and critical network theory. She is also an alum of SFSU [B.A. Black Studies (now Africana Studies) & B.S. Physiology]—a SEPAL student and MARC Scholar at Dr. Vance Vredenburg’s research lab. She got her M.S. in Biological Sciences at CSULA, building theoretical models of biological systems. 

She is pursuing this project, because she believes that we should center the standpoint and voices of women of color in order to truly support them.  
About the Project
This project proposes to identify national trends in STEM pathways of women of color community college students and contextualize emergent and adaptive dynamics in their networks that influence their scientific thinking and navigational capital. To address the complexity of this understudied group’s academic journeys, we draw from interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks such as complex systems theory and Black feminist epistemology, and from mixed methods approaches such as statistical measures, network analysis, ecological diversity indices, and qualitative interviews. The project’s broader impact will contribute to transforming STEM access pathways for community college students, especially from underrepresented groups like women of color. Findings can inform diversity initiative programs of equitable strategies that center the perspective of an understudied group as primary stakeholders and central voices in their own success.

Jarred Dela Cruz!

Degree: MS Graduate Student | Department of Biology, SFSU
I am from Elk Grove, CA and completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at Sac State. I was heavily involved in various positions within Sac State’s Student Affairs Division and held positions within First Year Experience, New Student Orientation, and Student Services. In addition, I was also a volunteer researcher at The Mulligan Lab where I had the opportunity to use the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to investigate interactions between epigenetic factors and genes during neural development. SEPAL manages to blend two of my interests, science and education, and I’m thrilled to be able to further explore both!
My research topic is yet to be determined.