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Curriculum, Teaching  & Learning



Wanja Gitari

phone: (416) 978-0072
email: wanja.gitari@utoronto.ca  

Departments:
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Centre for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education
Transitional Year Program


Research Overview

Dr. Wanja Gitari is an Associate Professor with the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at OISE. Her primary research interests focus on cognitive continuity in science learning, access, equity and retention in science education; socio-cultural context of science education and the cultural knowledge of indigenous cultures. She is a member of a number of educational research groups including the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST)

Some of Professor Gitari's funded research projects have investigated the relationship between certain elements of everyday knowledge of natural phenomena and school science, by looking into the possibilities of integrating everyday knowledge into school science and engendering scientific creativity in everyday life.

She is the other of a number of articles and book chapters on science education and its link to social justice.

Curriculum Vitae

http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/Curriculum_Vitae/Wanja_Gitari_CV.pdf

Academic History


Doctorate in Education, OISE, University of Toronto, CTL, 2000
Thesis title: An Inquiry into the Integration of Indigenous Knowledges and Skills in the Kenyan Secondary Science Curriculum

Master of Arts, OISE, University of Toronto, CTL: Science Education, 1993
Thesis title: Influences of Social Factors on the Work Context of Science Teachers and on the Implementation of Science Curriculum: A Case of Two Kenyan High Schools

Bachelor of Education, Department of Botany and Zoology, Kenyatta University, Kenya, 1987
Qualified with Upper Second Class Honors

Teaching Overview

Dr. Gitari has taught the following graduate-level courses at OISE:

CTL 1799H School Science and the Search for Optimal Living Conditions (2008-2009)
CTL 1799H Ways of Knowing in Science and Technology: Cross-Cultural Issues in Science and Technology Education (2001-2006)
CTL 1211 Action Research in Science & Technology Education (2000-2001) Course Leader: Professor Derek Hodson

and the following individual reading courses:

Barbara Ostrowski, Children‟s Literature and Storytelling in Science and Technology Curriculum (May-June 2008)
Missakabo Mikhael, Worldview Concept and the Problems of Science Education in African Contexts (March-June 2004)

Representative Publications

CHAPTERS IN BOOKS

Gitari, W. (2008). Some Issues of Science Education in Africa. In S.N. Dlamini (Ed.), New Directions in African Education (pp. 41-72; 31 pages). Calgary: University of Calgary Press.

Gitari, W. (2003). Science Literacy: Schooled Science in the Service of Equity and Social Justice. In K.S. Brathwaite (Ed.), Access and Equity in the University (pp 349-374; 25 pages). Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.

REFEREED JOURNAL ARTICLES

Gitari, W. (2009). Exploring the Understanding and Common Use of Scientific and Everyday Knowledge and Students‟ Agency in a Kenyan High School. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 9(4), 262-275. (14 pages)

Gitari, W. (2006). Teaching Science to Pre-university Students: Science as a Way of Knowing. Curriculum Perspective, 26(3), 44-54. (11 pages)

Gitari, W. (2006). Everyday Objects of Learning about Health and Healing and Implications for Science Education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43(2), 172-193. (21 pages)

Gitari, W. (2005). Book Review: (Teaching Science for Social Justice [Angela Calabrese Barton with Jason L. Ermer, Tahania A. Burkett, and Margery D. Osborne, 2003]). International Journal of Science Education, 27(7), 881-885. (4 pages)

Research Grants and Contracts

Dr. Gitari has been awarded a number of research grants:

Transitional Year Programme (TYP) Fund ($4,163.86)
August 2004-May 2005
Funding to conduct a study titled, Science Teaching and Learning in a University Access Program, and to present papers at international conferences: a) Finding a Clear Path in the Theoretical Maze of Naturalistic Inquiry When Faced with Multiple Subjectivities. Paper presented at the Advances in Qualitative Methods (AQM), Edmonton, Alberta (2005, February 17-20); b) Science Teaching and Learning in a University Access Program. Poster presentation at the Hawaii International Conference on Education (HICE), Honolulu, Hawaii (2005, January 4-7).

Imperial Oil Centre Grant for International Travel [Internal grant of the Science, Math & Technology Centre, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE/UT] ($800.00), November 2003.

Funding to attend a symposium, The National Adult Literacy Database Symposium (NALD) - [The Inclusive Learning Exchange (TILE): Meeting Diverse Learner Needs.] November 14, 2003, Fredricton, New Brunswick.

Grant for International Travel [Imperial Oil Centre and SSHRC]($1150.00)
April 2002
Funding to present a research paper, What Is in it for Me? Science in a University Access Program. Paper presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), New Orleans, Louisiana.

Connaught Grant (10,000)
July 2000-2003
Funding to conduct research study titled, Structuring of Science Concepts in the Context of a University Access Program
Funding to conduct research study titled, The Structuring of Science Concepts in a Biology Text: The Case of the Gene
Funding to conduct library search, Annotated Bibliography on Learning disabilities
Funding to present research paper, Using Rural Ways of Knowing to Structure a Socio-cultural Framework for Science Education. Paper presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), St. Louis, Missouri.

Imperial Oil Centre Grant for Research ($7125.00)
2001 - 2002
Funding to: a) pay a research assistant to help with the feasibility study for a research website, Web-based resource for cross-cultural teaching and learning of science and technology; b) pay a web technician to work on the web design and initial set up of the setup, purchase necessary software and related materials; b) attend web design workshops

Honours and Awards

Dr. Gitari has received the following awards:

Canadian Researchers Award from the International Research Development Center (IDRC), Ottawa, 1997.
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Scholarship, 1990-1993.
Kenya University Students Award, 1984-1987.

Professional Activities

University and Community Service:

File Reader, Admissions Committee member, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, & Learning, OISE/UT, 2008 - 2010.
File Reader, Admissions Committee member, Transitional Year Programme 2009.
Committee member, TYP 40th Anniversary Committee, 2010: Participated in discussions on conference planning and coordination; helped with the budget portion of the conference proposal to be submitted to SSHRC
Participant, TYP weekly and bi-weekly faculty meetings, 2001- ongoing. Contributed to discussions on students‟ academic progress, the continual appraisal of the TYP teaching ethos, and TYP‟s welfare at the University of Toronto.
Coordinator, Science, Math & Technology Centre‟s Brown Bag Seminar Series in the department of Curriculum, Teaching & Learning, OISE/UT, January to June 2009.
Member, CTL Faculty Council, Department of Curriculum, Teaching, & Learning, OISE/UT, 2008- 2009.
Coordinator, UTM Science Advancement Initiative, University of Toronto at Mississauga (UTM), 2006-2007: I initiated a meeting with key people at UTM to set up a science outreach program in the Peel region. This led to a proposal to pilot a science coaching project at the Hazel McCallion Middle School in Mississauga --- led by a senior science student from UTM. I supervised the student coach‟s leader, coordinated the team activities, and the implementation logistics.
Committee member, Research Standing Committee, 2006-2007- : Participated in discussions on research and funding at OISE/UT.
Participant, TYP weekly and bi-weekly faculty meetings, 2006- 2007. Contributed to discussions on students‟ academic progress, the continual appraisal of the TYP teaching ethos, and TYP‟s welfare at the University of Toronto.
Committee member, TYP Administrative Assistant Search Committee, 2007: Reviewed (short- listed) candidates‟ application files; interviewed candidates; submitted my views to the search committee and voted.

Professional Memberships and Affiliations:

American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE)
National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST)