Research (and Development)

While at Cal State LA, I have worked on developing a robust research agenda in teacher education and teacher learning. My work focuses on developing a teacher education application of the practices of science and engineering to understand the problems of practice in classroom communities. I look towards supporting teacher education students and professional educators to imagine and enact practices in cycles of reflective practice centered on youth and oriented towards equity and justice.

My main project and lab at Cal State LA, where I am the principal investigator, is The T(h)inker Place (T2P). T2P was developed over 10 years of research that engages with the human(izing) and geo-local aspects of teacher learning and its research paradigms. Particularly critical is that in education research, we tend to generalize or hyper-essentialize racial and intersectional lenses of research and expand assumptions of populations that don't necessarily represent those points of view. The object of investigation in our research, at times, may be devoid of the humanity of our students and the intersections of resources across spaces, time while also overtly reproducing epistemic supremacy and delegitimizing counternarratives that may inform educative learning for developing teachers and/or teachers in local practice. Essentially, T2P problematizes the global-local justice orientations and narratives in teacher education and teacher learning with a lens on science and engineering.

Through my dissertation work, I learned with three science and engineering middle school students--their understanding of success of science is race-based, but individually engaged, and that when collective cultural communities whose values, beliefs, and assumptions of schooling, family, and communities are humanized--that they tend to question, discuss, engage, problematize and work through practices in very different ways. This means that scientific literacy and engagement with science and engineering is inherently a human endeavor and that the work done with community members needs to include the localization and geographies of this learning. My work, published in journals including Science Education, Journal of Science Teacher Education, and Cultural Studies in Science Education, discusses these elemental aspects through various cases of science and engineering learning.


Marshall, S. L., Nazar, C. R., Ibourk, A., & McElhaney, K. W. (2021). The role of collective sensemaking and science curriculum development within a research–practice partnership. Science Education, 105(6), 1202-1228.

Nazar, C. R., Barton, A. C., Morris, C., & Tan, E. (2019). Critically engaging engineering in place by localizing counternarratives in engineering design. Science Education, 103(3), 638-664.

Schenkel, K., Barton, A. C., Tan, E., Nazar, C. R., & Flores, M. D. G. D. (2019). Framing equity through a closer examination of critical science agency. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 14(2), 309-325.

Nazar, C. R., Barton, A. C., & Rollins, A. (2017). Faith’s Fancy Hat: Engineering WITH Community. In Reframing Science Teaching and Learning (pp. 97-114). Routledge.

Literacy + STEM (L+S)--developed by me and Dr. Jamie Marsh--grew from a local need in Los Angeles schools via students in our methods courses. Oftentimes, in our literacy and science methods courses, teacher education students discussed needing tools to critically analyze, unpack and engage with content through a community and justice orientation lens. We focused this work to co-develop methods courses that were aligned in literacy and science education, used varying technologies to engage students and built on developing tools for fieldwork and directed teaching experiences. Through four years of this work, funded by special projects, university-wide fellowships and creative leave grants for teaching, we are now building leadership goals for an MA to credential program centered on community impacts of content and practice in our everyday lives.

STEPS 4 Equity (S4E)--developed by me and Dr. Jamie Marsh--was developed from our work as coordinators of the Single Subject (Dr. Nazar) and Multiple Subject (Dr. Marsh) programs in the Division of Curriculum & Instruction at Cal State LA. Important to note is that we wanted to take a multiple perspectives or perspectivism/perspectivist approach in the work with multiple faculty, students and community teachers, youth and even staff frorm our campus to build instructional program coherence in teacher education/teacher learning. We believe that in order to create an equity-minded and justice-oriented teacher credentialing program support system, we need to build on the 4 C's which are:

(1) Communicate with students on a regular basis about our program to build community and culture

(2) Collaborate on signature assignments and fieldwork protocols to streamline learning experiences for students in and develop instructional program coherence that benefits youth in the community

(3) Cultivate relationships with schools/community to build partnerships for our students

(4) Consult on a regular basis with all members involved in developing school, fieldwork and faculty culture