Dr. Gale M. Sinatra is a Professor of Education at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. She was Co-PI of the Evolution Challenges grant. She received her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She spent 10 years on the faculty of University of Utah and 10 years as a professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
She is the outgoing Editor of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 15 journal, Educational Psychologist. She served as Vice President Division C, Learning and Instruction, of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) from 2010-2012. She is a Fellow of both APA and AERA.
Her research focuses on understanding the cognitive, motivational, and emotional processes that lead to successful learning in science. Sinatra’s model of conceptual change learning describes how motivational factors contribute to the likelihood that individuals will change their thinking about a scientific topic.
Her co-edited volume with Dr. Paul Pintrich, Intentional Conceptual Change, examines the students' role in facilitating their own knowledge change. She recently served as Associate Editor of Vol. 1 of the APA Handbook of Educational Psychology.
My research in evolution has focused on the role of “hot” constructs (such as motivation, emotion, dispositions, and belief) in creating opportunities for or barriers to conceptual change when learning about complex and controversial topics such as biological evolution. Specifically, we have found that knowledge is important in determining acceptance of biological evolution. However other factors, such as personal beliefs, often trump knowledge. These “hot” constructs can determine the likelihood of acceptance as well as the probability of change. My research suggests that instruction in biological evolution should incorporate discussions of students’ affective and motivational responses to the topic as part of an open dialog with learners, as much as the context permits.
Sinatra, G. M. & Nadelson, L. (2011). Science and religion: Opposite ends of core epistemological continua (pp. 173-193)? In R. Taylor & M. Ferrari (Eds.). Epistemology and Science Education: Understanding the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Controversy. New York, NY: Routledge.
Sinatra, G. M., Brem, S. K., & Evans, E. M. (2008). Changing Minds? Implications of Conceptual Change for Teaching and Learning about Biological Evolution. Evolution Education and Outreach, 2. 189-195. [This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0635628.]
Sinatra, G. M., Southerland, S. A. & McConaughy, F., & Demastes, J. (2003). Intentions and beliefs in students’ understanding and acceptance of biological evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(5), 510-528.