GGSE: You have five years of middle school science teaching experience. What made you want to go back to school and get a Ph.D. in the Department of Education?
Kaylee Laub: I decided to go back to school at the start of the pandemic where I enrolled in Fresno State's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. My intentions were to seek new pedagogical approaches that would make me a better teacher for my students. What I quickly discovered during my time at Fresno State was that I loved conducting action research and contributing to the body of literature that surrounds science education and sense-making. This passion led me to apply to the Ph.D. program at UCSB. My hope is to return back to the classroom, but as a professor of pre-service teachers where I can share new pedagogical approaches in science education.
GGSE: What got you interested in problem-based learning around local community issues / why does that seem a useful way to approach science teaching?
Laub: I focused my science curricula on problem-based learning to make my classroom more student-centered where my students could engage in critical thinking skills and participate in collaborative approaches. I also wanted to steer away from nationalized textbooks that do not focus on local community issues because I wanted my students to not only see themselves as scientists and engineers but as contributing members of the community who could advocate for issues and design legitimate solutions to problems that were relevant to them. This approach to science teaching ultimately moves away from a standardized approach of leading students to the same "right answer" and towards heterogeneous sense-making.
GGSE: What made you choose UCSB for your doctoral work?
Laub: Aside from the transformative amount of financial support, the mentorship at UCSB aligns with my research interests and goals. I'm extremely lucky to have co-advisors Drs. Julie Bianchini and Danielle Harlow guiding me through my research endeavors. Also, the weather here beats the triple digit heat in Fresno.
GGSE: In your spare time, if you have any, what do you like to do?
Laub: When I have spare time, I love to make candles and go for long walks. I'm also a big foodie, so I love going out and trying new restaurants!