Collaborating with Other Educators
by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.
As part of my plan for converting ideas into action, I want to work with other educators to develop curriculum & instruction that will help students improve their learning of ideas-and-skills in a wide variety of contexts.
As part of your plan for improving the quality of education, why might you want to work with me?   Because I have:

• many Ideas for Education;  I think the best of these are in Using Design Process for Problem Solving & Education but I'm also excited about Music Improvising by using my Colorized Keyboard.

Or, in the past tense mode of a conventional CV, I have

• a wide variety of teaching experiences;

• BA & MS in Chemistry, MA in History of Science, and a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction (Science Education) that was earned by developing an integrative model of scientific methods, and using this model to analyze a creative science-inquiry classroom;  plus extensive informal education.

• awards — Best Chemistry Student (from American Chemical Society, for all high schools of Orange County CA and later for U.C. Irvine), NSF Fellowship for Graduate Study (at U of WA), Dean's Club Award in Education (at U of WI) — and 800's [highest possible score] in Graduate Record Exam for Math & Verbal.


A bio-page has a brief history of my life, explaining the rewards and frustrations of my “road less traveled” as a scholar-and-educator;  and a personal history (re: solving problems with scientific method & design process) describes my long-time interest in this fascinating area, and in lab education.

Below, a Web Portfolio describes major “educational influences” and some personal results that you can see in my verbal-and-visual overviews of scientific concepts (for chemistry & physics) and thinking strategies (for science & design), plus my explorations of parts-whole analysis (for juggling) and problem solving (while tutoring), appreciation of eclectic instruction, and learning about respectful understanding.



My Influences (and some results) in a Personal Web-Portfolio
This section is the continuation of my brief resume/bio above.

results:  Most of my recent writing about education is in a comprehensive website, Using Creative-and-Critical Design Thinking for Problem Solving & Education.  Also, links for a wider variety of my web-pages.


influences:  When you click the links below, you can see some results of major “influences” on the development of my thinking and skills:
 • reading-and-using summary notes made by Wolfgang Schubert (when he taught organic chemistry at UW in Seattle) helped me appreciate the benefits of a logically organized summary, and this motivated much of my later work.

• a related inspiration was studying Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics (by William Davies - see the endnotes) with its integrative perspective that showed me how ideas which previously had been unrelated (for me) could be elegantly combined in my mind, thus changing-and-improving the way I think about the characteristics of molecules, and how this affects their reactions.

• In a similar way, Prof Keena (organic chemistry at U of Oregon) often said "it's eminently reasonable that molecules do what they do because they are what they are," and he explained how, because the structure of molecules (i.e. "what they are") determines where they contain locations with + or – electrical charge, and a + spot in one molecule is electrically attracted to a – spot in another molecule, and "what they do" is a chemical reaction.


overview-summaries:  Some results of these inspirations — from the o-chem summaries and thermo book and o-chem principle, plus the many other educationally useful overviews I've seen and studied that have helped me learn more efficiently and effectively — are the web-pages I've written that, analogous to executive summaries or CliffsNotes, are an organized condensation of important ideas.    { But in other web-pages my ideas are expressed in more depth, and interesting tangents are explored, so my pages span a wide spectrum from condensed summaries to expansive expositions, and they also cover a wide range of topics. }

the benefits of organization:  Based on research, educators agree that organizing knowledge leads to better understanding, remembering, transfering, and using of knowledge.

thinking skills in education:  The use of education to improve thinking skills has fascinated me for a long time, and some of my web-pages are link-pages that condense a wide range of important ideas about thinking, and link to pages by other authors.  In web-checks during recent years (in Google before Panda, and currently in Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or Bing) my pages have been #1 for "     in education" where the blank can be filled with creative thinking, problem solving, thinking skills, scientific method, or design process, and (ranking high but not #1) critical thinking.    [[now I think "action in social media" – and I don't do this – is counted heavily.]]

verbal-and-visual representations:

[[ iou – Soon (maybe during August 21-24, 2023) I'll continue developing-and-revising this section that currently is a rough draft. ]]

In another result of many inspirational influences (these and others), I've been motivated to make summaries that combine verbal & visual information, spatially organized in a logically meaningful way.  Here are some examples — of my verbal/visual representations that are innovative (in some ways, but not others) — and some of my personal history with "visual thinking" and visual representations of ideas:

personal projects in many areas: 

diagrams for my models of Integrated Scientific Method (with diagrams: simplified & full) and early versions of Integrated Design Method (with diagrams: simplified & basic & detailed and isolations).    [[also EfPS in early days, 2000-2014;  and earlier, 1992-1997, a history of diagrams I made during my PhD work]]    { I made these diagrams with SuperPaint during PhD work, and later with Fireworks, then was sad when both programs were abandoned. }

my newer diagrams (for using Design Thinking to solve problems);

1985-1989 I made summaries of physics chapters (in a book from 1989, Tools for Problem Solving in Physics), and

because chemistry was/is my scientific specialty, I've also developed (mostly 1979-1984, plus some in 1990s) many ideas for chemistry;  a few of these ideas (a very small fraction of the total) are now available on the web, condensed into summary-notes for chemistry (and later I'll put more of them online), plus diagrams for many aspects of chemistry.  

And in other areas, diagrams for music theory plus

ballroom dancing rhythms, patterns, and transitions.


personal history:  During my first semester at UC Irvine, Fall 1966, in a course for computer programming I saw flowcharts with linear flow plus if-then branching;  I thought the concepts (and diagrams) were fascinating & useful.  In the mid-1970's I discovered Visual Thinking (by Robert McKim, 1972) and in 1978 my 110-page booklet (it was single spaced, probably was 200 typical book-pages) about "Strategies for Problem Solving" had 5 pages for representational thinking, with convertings between verbal & visual & mathematical representations.   /   15 years later, this section "originally [in 1993] was intended to be (after appropriate revisions) one part in the introductory chapter of my PhD dissertation:  It describes the educational value of communication that combines visual and verbal representations, with a focus on the relatively underutilized visual aspects of this partnership.  It is commonly accepted that visual representations can serve a number of valuable functions, both affective and cognitive.  Although the affective functions of illustrations (such as motivating students) are often important, my discussion will concentrate on cognitive functions, beginning with some ways in which meaning can be expressed visually."

tools for creativity:  I made many diagrams — to show Scientific Method (early) and Problem-Solving Process (later) — by using Superpaint (early) and (later) Fireworks.  I'm disappointed that these programs were abandoned by Aldus and Adobe.*  My feelings are a bit like those of Richard Bolam who says "SuperPaint is one of my all-time favourite software painting programs.  I don’t know why.  There is just something uniquely appealing about its strange selection of tools aimed at expressive creativity, rather than the monolithic blandness of Adobe Photoshop.  The two programs are not interchangeable in practical terms, but I hate Photoshop, and have never loved it in the heady, irrational way that I laid my soul down before SuperPaint."  Superpaint & Fireworks were a much better match for the ways I like to verbally-and-visually express ideas, compared with programs like Illustrator & Photoshop (that Adobe decided "together could do what Fireworks did" although they cannot) or other programs like Seashore;  and diagrams made with Superpaint & Fireworks won't open properly (i.e. keeping all things "the way they are") in other programs.    {* what happened?  Aldus didn't make Superpaint compatible with Mac OSX when it replaced OS9, and Adobe stopped making Fireworks available in 2017, after its final appearance in their CS6 collection of 2012. }


analysis-and-synthesis of juggling:  An unusual influence was learning how to juggle (in 12 years, 45 minutes) and then becoming a juggling teacher (for a decade in the University of Washington Experimental College) and author of a comprehensive (but non-published) book about juggling that has been sadly misplaced.  The juggling was fun — well, it still is, as you can see in my juggling video from 2009 — and learning how to juggle and teaching others (in person & in a book) also contributed to my intellectual development.  How?  Because one effective way to teach juggling, from the basics through advanced tricks, is with analysis-and-synthesis, by breaking a complex process into parts that can be learned and then recombined in a whole-part-whole process.  But another way of learning tricks is to ”try something new“ and let your hands "figure out what to do" in a process that is much like the minds-off strategy recommended by Tim Gallwey for The Inner Game of Tennis (Editorial Book Review from Amazon).  I've also combined these two approaches to learning (analysis-and-synthesis, and “just let it happen”) in my learning & teaching of musical improvisation, and I've thought a lot about the similarities and differences between learning physical skills and mental skills, whether these occur in sports & arts or design & science.  The process of writing-and-drawing a juggling book was challenging, and this was good practice for the relatively easy task (well, easier in some ways but not others!) of constructing verbal-and-visual representations in areas like physics and scientific method.  You can see the first chapter of Do-it-Yourself Juggling plus a few miscellaneous ideas, but unfortunately not my in-book or in-person teaching of Mill's Mess (wikipedia & video) and other fancy tricks, plus cooperative juggling like passing and stealing.    { I've played a variety of sports, watched even more, have studied sport-science (physiology, psychology, strategy) and taught juggling, tennis, and ballroom dancing. }

one-to-one customized teaching:  From 1978 to 1989, I tutored students in science (chemistry, physics) and math (algebra, calculus, business calculus) at the University of Washington, both privately and in a learning center serving students with inadequate educational backgrounds.  While tutoring, I worked thousands of problems, constantly improving my own solution strategies and searching for ways to teach these strategies to students in easy-to-master steps.  In one-to-one conversations I shared their struggles, discovering how they think and learn.  Students' questions, such as "How did you get that picture from those words?", kept my attention focused on the goal of meeting their needs.  With no "front of the classroom pressure" I was able to relax and try different teaching methods (with instant feedback from students) to find what works best.  The teaching skills I learned while tutoring (and continuing since then) have transferred into my current classroom teaching, and for the past two decades my students have scored consistently high on exams.    [[ iou – later I'll write this sentence more clearly -- but my internal feeling of time-pressure, wanting to "give them their money's worth," led me to use mostly direct teaching instead of the inquiry-discovery that I grew to appreciate more, after entering grad school with PhD work in C&I (ScienceEducation) at my second UW. ]]

eclectic instruction combining active reception and active inquiry:  By nature I tend to be eclectic, and one result is trying to avoid limitations on my thinking about education.  Reading two papers about “Overview, Case Study” instruction (by Arthur Farmer, and Alan Van Heuvelen) led me to think more deeply about the benefits of hybrid instruction that combines the best aspects of different approaches.  This fueled my optimism for a productive resolution of the typically unproductive arguments between educators (including myself) who appreciate the value of cognitively active meaningful reception learning and those who (also like me) appreciate the value of inquiry learning but who (unlike me) seem to think that combining "cognitively active" and "reception" is an illogical oxymoron, so meaningful reception learning through direct instruction (as advocated by David Ausubel and others) should not play a significant role in education;  I disagree.   Instead, I think we should develop creative eclectic instruction (combining the best features of different approaches) that encourages effective active learning.

accurate understanding with respectful attitudes:  Finally, one of the most significant influences on the way I now think was when "students in my high school learned valuable lessons about understanding and attitudes from one of our favorite teachers."

Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics,
by William Davies, is described in a book review from the Journal of Chemical Education, and I've summarized a central idea.

Here are some idea-scraps, maybe to be used later:  I tend to prefer eclectic teaching methods with a significant emphasis on meaningful reception learning (Ausubel,...) as a useful "minds on" learning activity, along with problem solving (structured and unstructured, with algorithmic and improvisational solutions) and guided inquiry with varying amounts of coaching, and "spiral" sequences in a curriculum;  also, considering alternative conceptions (misconceptions) of students, and using multiple logical/verbal/visual representations of concepts and processes.

Craig Rusbult,