Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Mila Rosa Carden

Dr. Mila Rosa Carden is an Assistant Professor in the department of Teacher Education and Administration. We sat down with her recently to talk more about her research. Check it out! 

Q: What is your main research focus?

A: My research is focused on understanding the nature of science or NOS in teacher education and K-12 settings. I am particularly interested in examining the intersection between NOS and special education. Research has shown the potential relevance of NOS in SPED context. However, I think there is much more work needed to inform best practices for SPED and science, particularly on NOS teacher training. I am pursuing research that focused on preservice and inservice teachers’ NOS conceptions and instructional practices that leverage NOS for diverse population of students.

Q: What do you have a background in?

A: I have a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and worked primarily on plant anatomy in graduate school. My doctorate degree is Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis on Science Education.

Q: What career, research, or teaching accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: The pivotal part of my career was being selected as a Fellow for International Leaders in Education Program and now known as Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program for International Teachers. This program opened the door for me to pursue my doctorate in the US, establish international network and paved the way to where I am now.

As for research accomplishment, I am proud about my study on the intersection between special education (SPED) and the nature of science (NOS). This study contributes to the very limited research in these fields. NOS scholars advocates for learning and teaching NOS as crucial to facilitate equitable science teaching, yet few studies have examined potential relevance of NOS in SPED contexts.

As a teacher, I am most proud of my students’ successes. It may be sound like a cliché, but whenever my former students tell me what they have become and successful in their careers, living and leading a good life, it is my proudest moment. I am most proud of my former students who have transformed lives through their chosen career such as working for and in national and international humanitarian organizations.

Q: What is the most profound thing you’ve learned in your research?

My research reflects my passion and advocacy to making science accessible for all. I think the most important aspect of my research is ensuring that it tells a powerful message of commitment to make science relevant to the diverse population of learners. I am not a SPED person, but my advisor convinced me to work with preservice SPED teachers for my dissertation. Looking back, I am so glad I took Dr. Mulvey’s advice. My dissertation paved the way to a research agenda that is impactful to making science education equitable for all.

Q: How could your research impact society?

A: I think my research on NOS and SPED can provide critical considerations of NOS instruction in SPED classrooms. Findings of my past study indicates the potential power of NOS to provide opportunities for SPED students to transform their limitations to assets in learning science. If SPED students can actively engage in science learning, then “science for all” has not fallen short. Ultimately, such research may facilitate equitable science education.

Q: What is your favorite class to teach and why?

A: I have two favorite classes to teach: high school biology and elementary science methods.

I used to teach biology in an all-boys school in the Philippines. I have my most memorable times with them; they continue to inspire me as an educator.

I also love teaching science methods courses to preservice elementary teachers. I see myself in them when I was starting to become a teacher. I like seeing creative lesson plans and their implementations during class. I also enjoy having small and informal conversations with them; sometimes their stories provide me with information on how to provide accommodations.

Q: What do you like about UNT?

A: I have been here for less than a year, but I am loving being part of UNT community. I like the diverse members of faculty in our department, which gives me a sense of belonging. In terms of university amenities, I love the dining halls, especially the Eagle Landing and the Mean Greens Café.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

A: I love to stay at home and cook food without following recipes! My kitchen is like a science laboratory for me, because cooking is science, too! I also like to travel with my family.