Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Photo of Eileen Parsons

Parsons, Eileen R. Carlton

Professor of Science Education

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307B Peabody Hall
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“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”

– Marian Wright Edelman


Eileen Parsons studies the influences of socio-cultural factors, specifically race and culture, on learning in science and participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Her research uses primarily, but not exclusively, qualitative methods to investigate the cultural and racial responsiveness of practices with respect to African American students in K-12 learning environments with a focus on middle school and cultural and racial inclusiveness for traditionally underrepresented students of color in undergraduate STEM. Learning and participation of students of color also foreground her scholarship. Her scholarship centers and extends critical and socio-cultural theories that weigh the historical and contemporary positioning of people of color. Her research and scholarship are inspired by the belief that diverse perspectives and voices result in the most innovative, equitable, and productive approaches to a society’s challenges.

Parsons’ future research and scholarship interests include a K-postsecondary cross-disciplinary synthesis of STEM literature on students of color; mixed-methods longitudinal examinations of youths’ and their adult significant others’ (e.g., parents) science learning and participation in culturally responsive informal learning environments; and STEM education policy.

Educational Background

  • Postdoctoral Fellow 1998-1999 - Ford Foundation
  • Ph.D. 1994 - Cornell University, Science Education
  • M.S. 1991 - Cornell University, Science Education
  • B.S. 1989 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Science Teaching (chemistry)

Doctoral Program Affiliation(s)

Ph.D. in Education - Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies

Research Interests

  • Socio-cultural dimensions of science learning
  • Broadening participation in STEM
  • STEM Education policy
  • African American education
  • Cultural relevance and cultural responsiveness in science education
  • Racial equity

Teaching Areas

  • Research Design
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Learning Theories
  • Science Education
  • African-American Education


  • Fundamentals of Educational Research: Research Design
  • Introduction to Cognitive Science and Socio-cultural Perspectives on Learning
  • Advanced Socio-cultural Perspectives
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Race and Culture in Science Education

Honors & Awards

  • 2011, American Association for the Advancement of Science Policy Fellow
  • 2005, Association for Science Teacher Education "Contribution of Research to Practice" Award
  • 1997, Ford Foundation/ National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1992-1994, Staye Fellowship, Cornell University
  • 1991-1992, Board of Governor's Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 1989-1991, New York State Fellowship, Cornell University

Funded Research

  • (2016-present) African American Students’ Holistic Development in STEM Postsecondary Education and Institutional Contexts. Supplemental Funding Request for HBCU-UP Broadening Participation Research (NSF #1436381): Effect of Self-Regulated Learning Development on Student Success in STEM; National Science Foundation
  • 2008-2010 The African Diaspora: Developing Black scholars in science education for the 21stcentury in the United States; National Science Foundation
  • (2005-2007) Exemplary science teachers and teaching in public urban elementary and middle schools: Teacher practices and African American versus European American student perceptions; Spencer Foundation Small Grant.

Selected Professional Affiliations

  • National Association for Research in Science Teaching
  • American Educational Research Association
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science

Selected Publications

Parsons, E.C., Bulls, D., Atwater, M., Butler, M. & Freeman, T. (in press). General experiences + race + racism =Work lives of Black faculty in postsecondary science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education

Parsons, E. C. (in press). Interfaces between critical race theory and sociocultural perspectives. In I. Esmonde & A. Booker (Eds.), Power and privilege in the learning sciences: Critical and sociocultural theories of learning. New York: Routledge.

Parsons, E. C. & Thompson Dorsey, D. (2015). The race problem: Its perpetuation in the Next Generation of Science Standards. In L.D. Drakeford (Ed.). The race controversy in American education (pp. 215-237). Santa Barbara, CA.: Praeger Publishers.

Parsons, E.C. (2014). Chapter 9: Unpacking and critically synthesizing the literature on race and ethnicity in science education. In S. Abell (posthumously) and N. Lederman (Eds.) (2nd edition). The Handbook on Research in Science Education (pp. 167-186). Taylor & Francis.

Parsons, E. C. & Turner, K. (2014). The importance of history in the racial inequality and racial inequity in education: New Orleans as a case example. The Negro Educational Review, 65(1-4), 99-113.

Brown, B., Parsons, E. C., Miles, R., & Henderson, B. (2013). Exploring the alignment of Black scientists with the American scientific community: Does race still matter? Journal of Women and Minorities in Science, 19(2), 95-120.

Parsons, E. C. & Carlone, H. B. (2013). Editorial: Culture and science education in the 21st century: Extending and making the cultural box more inclusive. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(1), 1-11.

Parsons, E. C., Rhodes, B., & Brown, C. (2011). Unpacking the Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Negotiating White Science. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 6(4), 951-960.

Parsons, E.C. (2008b). Positionality of African Americans and a theoretical accommodation of it: Rethinking science education research. Science Education, 92 (6), 1127-1144.

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