Teaching and Learning, Ph.D.

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Specialization in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education

Students who select a specialization in STEM develop expertise in designing and conducting research that advances scientific knowledge about STEM teaching and learning, taking into consideration paramount issues of language, culture, gender, student exceptionality, ethnicity, and economic disparities. TAL faculty collaborate with faculty in other UM academic units, including the College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Communication, and Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, as well as schools and community STEM organizations within and beyond Miami-Dade County.

Our Students’ Career Objectives

  • We prepare our doctoral students to become academic researchers and university faculty who will assume professional and leadership roles in organizations focused on some combination of science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics education in the United States and around the world
  • Our doctoral students have assumed post-Ph.D. positions as faculty at research-intensive institutions of higher education, as research scientists or professional development specialists at non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or think tanks, and as specialists in some combination of STEM curriculum, teaching, or testing


Walter G. Secada

Vice Dean, Professor


Office: Max Orovitz Building, 333A

Ji Shen

Associate Professor


Office: Merrick Building 324-B

Nam Ju Kim

Assistant Professor


Office: Merrick Building 324-C

Jennifer Kahn

Assistant Professor


Office: Merrick Building 222-D


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  • Walter G. Secada’s Research

    Professor Walter G. Secada is a graduate of Miami’s Curley High School. He left Southeast Florida to earn a BA in philosophy (magna cum laude) from the University of Notre Dame, an MS in mathematics and Ph.D. in education, both from Northwestern University. He is Vice Dean of the School of Education and Human Development and Vice Chair of the University’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board (IRB).

    Secada’s scholarly interests include issues of student diversity and equity in education, how people learn across the various STEM fields, curriculum reform, school restructuring, bilingualism and the education of non-dominant-language learners, and assessment. Over the past ten years, he has collaborated with colleagues from Florida State University on two large-scale randomized-control-trials and a follow-up to the original RCT studying the impacts of a professional development program that is known as Cognitively Guided Instruction. His research contrasts CGI and traditional classrooms in terms of mathematics-curriculum enactment and teaching practices; and also, it incorporates issues of equity within the PD. Secada continues to study how the language features of mathematics may provide challenges and affordances to late-elementary and middle-school students who are learning mathematics and who range from English learners to fully proficient in English. A fluent speaker of and literate in Spanish, he is analyzing a series of videotapes where high-school algebra is taught bilingually in terms of teacher practices and language-based math-classroom participatory structures.

    Secada has provided consultative assistance to the Peruvian Ministry of Education; been interviewed on Telemundo and Univision; appeared on Oppenheimer Presenta; been a Senior Fulbright Fellow to la Universidad San Pablo in Arequipa, Peru; and been awarded an honorary professorship by Universidad La Salle also in Arequipa. Secada has presented at major conferences throughout the United States and in Chile, China, England, Germany, Greece, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Taiwan, and Thailand. He is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), a lifetime member of the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), and a longstanding member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

  • Ji Shen’s Research

    Ji Shen is working on technology-enhanced STEM learning environments, interdisciplinary and integrated learning, modeling-based instruction, and alternative assessments in STEM education. As a native Chinese speaker, he is also interested in issues related to international STEM education. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Shen holds a doctorate in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining the University of Miami, Dr. Shen was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and an assistant professor at the University of Georgia.

  • Nam Ju Kim’s Research

    Nam Ju Kim has extensive experience adapting technology tools including robots, games, and AR/VR to STEM education programs in both in-person and online learning environments and in analyzing educational big data through machine learning algorithms. His recent research

    focuses on developing AI-based learning systems to provide individualized learning support and to detect students’ motivation in Learner-centered instructional models for STEM education. His research is supported by several internal and external research grants. Dr. Kim earned his Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences from Utah State University with both the Ph.D. Researcher and Outstanding Graduates of the Year awards.

  • Jennifer Kahn’s Research

    As a Learning Scientist, Dr. Kahn looks at how to broaden participation in interdisciplinary, technology-rich activities to support youth learning across community settings, including museums, libraries, and cultural-heritage sites. Her current research qualitatively explores how youth and families critically engage with large-scale data and data visualization tools to connect personal, local experiences with global social-scientific issues. Dr. Kahn teaches courses on qualitative research methods, including video analysis; theories of learning; and the design of informal learning environments. Dr. Kahn’s current collaborations include projects to support storytelling with data and explorations of how youth and families learn together in informal STEM contexts. Dr. Kahn earned her doctorate from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College.

Core STEM Courses

TAL 774: Research on Learning in STEM
Overview of research on student learning, reasoning, problem solving, and sense making; the study of learning in STEM classrooms.

TAL 773: Teaching and Teacher Education in STEM
More advanced and specialized topics in research on the teaching and learning of STEM, including the development of teachers across their careers, professional development, learning in and out of school.

TAL 776: Assessment in STEM Education
Classroom based assessment, testing for high stakes and other purposes, national and international comparisons in mathematics and science.

TAL 775: STEM Curriculum
Study of STEM curricula and the competing forces that shape them, including standards documents, state and national policy, conceptions of the disciplines, modern and postmodern analyses of curriculum theory.