Kevin Zak received a doctor of education degree (Ed.D.) in Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota in Duluth on May 16.
He also received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award from the College of Education and Human Service Professions.
His thesis was “A descriptive study of pre-service science teacher’s conceptual understanding of scientific inquiry using concept maps.”
Zak studied how undergraduate students, teachers in training, view the scientific method.
“A lot of them were still thinking about the linear model,” he said, referring to the way the scientific method is traditionally introduced in textbooks. First a problem is identified, then a hypothesis is formed and tested.
“If you ask practicing scientists, they’ll say ‘I don’t do that. It’s more trial and error,’” he said. How the teacher views the process is important when trying to engage students in scientific practices.
Zak earned his B.A. at Concordia College in Moorhead in 2000 and his M.Ed. at UMD in 2005.
For the past seven years he has been a science education instructor at UMD, preparing future teachers.
Zak’s parents are life-long Forest Lake area residents Gary and Diane Zak.