Statement on Research
John R. Taylor
For thirteen years I did research on bats. My focus was primarily on abandoned mines and how bats used mines as day and night roosts. I later became involved in how bats used water sources, specifically water catchments, ring-tanks, and stock ponds created by ranchers. Funding was easily obtained, I had more work than I knew what to do with. Then one day, my son came home from school and changed my life.
“I hate math,” he said. Astonished, I queried deeper. My second son, a fourth grader, absolutely loved math and science. Now, suddenly, he hated it. I found out his sudden dislike stemmed from a comment his elementary school teacher made. In disbelief, I visited his teacher the next day to see what really occurred. To my dismay, she told the students that they would be doing very little math this year as she found it difficult and not worth exploring. I then approached the principal to request to have my son transferred to a teacher who enjoyed math and science, but my request was denied, as the school was beyond capacity. I knew then what the focus of my Ph.D. should be.
Southern Utah University has always been very good to me. In fact, the Administration has been very supportive in assisting me in obtaining a Ph.D. Additionally, my service as a board member for the Society for College Science Teachers put me in touch with some of the Nations’ best science educators, many of whom became close friends that constantly asked me to work with them on my doctorate at their institutions. After the experience with my son, I decided that complaining about science education was unproductive, and that I needed to get involved. I took a leave of absence from SUU and my family and I headed off to Syracuse University to work with Marvin Druger, John Tillotson, and Sharon Dotger.
Switching to science education has been a difficult transition, but invaluable one. My experience has greatly enhanced my abilities as a teacher, researcher, and mentor. I have come to realize that science education is a much larger problem than I had anticipated. As such, there is plenty of room for my boundless energy and enthusiasm, and I have wasted no time in getting involved. As is made evident from my CV, I am deeply involved in science education at both the secondary and elementary levels state-wide. My research currently is focused on pre-service teachers in trying to create a college experience with proper context that has significant impact on their future teaching practices. However, I will also continue providing professional development for inservice teachers and offer support to them and their classes as much as I can.
Though I continue to conduct critical bat research in the state of Utah, the need for continued science education research is even more important. I am currently one of 8 committee members of the Southern Utah K-16 Alliance, a group of business and industry leaders, regional school district superintendents and higher education leaders who are creating a STEM Action Center for all of southern Utah. The need is great and the laborers are few. Despite this, we are joining together to create outstanding experiences for K-16 students in southern Utah.