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Washington State University
College of Education

Tamara Dawn Holmlund

Tamara Nelson

Tamara Dawn Holmlund

science education
vancouver campus
VUB 324
14204 NE Salmon Creek Avenue
Vancouver, WA  98686-9600


WSUV research page



Research interests

My research agenda reflects multiple questions related to the current call for STEM education and the inclusion of students typically underrepresented in STEM courses and careers. Some of the areas I explore are: 1) how various stakeholders conceptualize “STEM education”; 2) how teachers learn about, develop curriculum, and implement STEM education in both traditional and specialized STEM schools; 3) how students are engaged and supported in science and mathematics practices through project-based STEM learning opportunities; and, 4) the role of leadership in affording and constraining STEM education implementation.

My past research focused on collaborative teacher inquiry in professional learning communities, the dialogic interactions associated with teachers’ use of student learning data, and the meanings and instructional transformations teachers made as result of their collaborative work.

Holmlund also was a guest on the college’s Education Eclipse podcast.

Listen to Podcast

Teaching/professional interests

Holmlund taught secondary science and mathematics for thirteen years, before beginning her career in higher education. At WSU, Holmlund teaches courses in science education, instruction and assessment, educational technology, and research on teaching and learning.

Recent accomplishments:


  • Rollwagen-Bollens, G., Holmlund, T., Bollens, S., Wait*, J., Zimmerman, J., Connelly^, K., & Bargmann#, L. (May, 2019). Engaging high school students as collaborators in an ecological investigation of the Columbia River Estuary: Lessons from a transdisciplinary university-high school partnership. Limnology & Oceanography Bulletin. DOI: 10.1002/lob.10315
  • Lesseig, K., Firestone, J., Morrison, J., Slavit, D., & Holmlund, T. (2019; First Online, January, 2018.). An analysis of cultural influences on STEM schools: Similarities and differences across K-12 contexts. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education 17(3), 449-466. DOI: 10.1007/s10763-017-9875-6
  • Holmlund, T. H., Lesseig, K., & Slavit, D. (2018). Making sense of STEM education in K-12 contexts. International Journal of STEM Education, 5(32), 18 pages. DOI:10.1186/s40594-018-0127-2
  • Lesseig, K., Slavit, D., & Nelson, T. H. (2017). Jumping on the STEM bandwagon: How middle grades students and teachers can benefit from STEM experiences. Middle School Journal, 48(3), 15-24. Included in the Middle School Journal collection of top 6 downloaded articles in 2017.
  • Slavit, D., Nelson, T. H., & Lesseig, K. (2016). The teachers’ role in developing, opening, and nurturing an inclusive STEM-focused school. International Journal of STEM Education 3(1), 1-17. DOI:10.1186/s40594-016-0040-5.
  • Lesseig, K., Nelson, T. H., Slavit, D., & Seidel*, R. (2016). Supporting middle school teachers’ implementation of STEM design challenges. School Science and Mathematics 116(4), p. 177-188. DOI: 10.1111/ssm.12172

Co-primary investigator on a 4-year National Science Foundation Improvement of Undergraduate Education program grant. Collaborative research: The next generation of STEM teacher preparation in Washington State. Geary, E., Antilla, J., Baldwin, K., Dechaine-Berkas, J., & Holmlund, T. D. (2016).

Primary investigator on a 4.5-year, Teacher Professional Continuum research grant from the National Science Foundation. The research focuses on teacher growth and systemic change resulting from teachers’ supported collaborative inquiry in professional learning communities.

Co-primary investigator (Co-PI) on a three-year grant funded through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the U. S. Department of Education: Partnership for Reform in Secondary Science and Mathematics (PRiSSM). This professional development project supported collaborative inquiry amongst middle and high school math and science teachers from six districts in southwest and south-central Washington.

Co-PI on a grant from OSPI: Improving instructions through Exemplars in Mathematics and Science (IITEMS). Supported a week-long institute for teacher leaders from across Washington State.

Educational background

Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction, specialization in science education, University of Washington, 2002.

M.Ed. Education, specialization in natural sciences, Western Washington University, 1996.

B.S. Marine Studies, Evergreen State College, 1980.