Meena Balgopal

Meena BalgopalAssociate Professor
Office: 436 Biology Building
Phone: (970) 491-4277
Education: Ph.D., North Dakota State University

Our research group is interested in how people make meaning of natural science concepts. We explore meaning making (interpretation) and learning (storing and recalling information) by studying how people speak, read, and write about science.We conduct our work in diverse field sites: undergraduate science and engineering classrooms; K-12 classrooms; and informal science education experiences (field trips, museums, school gardens) Our research informs how science educators can support science learning. The findings will inform students so they can become: more aware of their own conceptual difficulties and be independent learners; more inclusive and productive teammates during group work; and better communicators of science. The findings will inform instructors of science so they can support: student learning through writing activities; science communication skills; and critical thinking during problem-based learning activities.  

Selected Publications

Rambo-Hernandez, K., Atadero, R., & Balgopal, M.M. (2017). The impact of project-based learning in engineering on achievement goal orientations and academic outcomes. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology (in press),

Cunningham-Sabo, L. Balgopal, M.M., Seedig, N., & McGuin, M. (2017). Colorado educators need quality curricula and instructional resources, time, and professional development to teach nutrition education. Health Behavior & Policy Review, 4(2), 161-17.

Balgopal, M.M., Wallace, A.M., & Dahlberg, S. (2017). Writing from different cultural contexts: How college students frame an environmental SSI through written arguments. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 54(2), 195-218.

Graves, L.A., Hughes, H., & Balgopal, M.M. (2016). Teaching STEM through agriculture: Implementation of an edible plant curriculum at an elementary school. Journal of Agricultural Education, 57(3), 192-207.

Cunningham-Sabo, L., Lohse, B., Smith, S., Browning, R., Strutz, E., Nigg, C., Balgopal, M.M., Kelly, K., & Ruder, E. (2016) Fuel for fun: A cluster-randomized controlled study of cooking skills, eating behaviors, and physical activity of 4th graders and their families. BMC Public Health, 16, 444. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3118-6

McMeeking, L.B.S., Boyd, K.J., Weinberg, A., & Balgopal, M.M. (2016). Student perceptions of interest, learning and engagement from an informal traveling science museum, School Science & Mathematics, 116(5), 253-264.

Jessup, J., Ode, P.J., & Balgopal, M.M. (2016). Competition for limiting resources: Quantitative reasoning in evolutionary ecology. The American Biology Teacher, 78(4), 300-309.

Casper, A.M.A., Balgopal, M.M., Fernandez-Gimenez, M. (2016). Natural resource management students’ perceptions of conceptual change in a capstone course. Natural Science Education, 45, 1-10.

Olssen, K., Balgopal, M.M., Levinger, N.E. (2015). How did we get here? Teaching chemistry from a historical perspective. Journal of Chemical Education, 92(11), 1773-1776.

Atadero, R., Rambo-Hernandez, K., & Balgopal, M.M. (2015). Assessing the impact of project-based learning in engineering statics on student outcomes using social cognitive career theory. Journal of Engineering Education, 104(1), 55-73.

Balgopal, M.M., Klein, J.A., Morgan, J.A., Brown, C.S., Frasier, W.M., & Sample McMeeking, L.B. (2014). Linking biophysical, socio-economic, and political effects of climate change on agro-ecosystems. Journal of Geoscience Education, 62(3), 343-352.

Balgopal, M.M. (2014). Learning and intending to teach evolution: Concerns of pre-service biology teachers. Research in Science Education, 44, 27-52.

Balgopal, M.M. & Wallace, A.M. (2013). Writing-to-learn, writing-to-communicate, & scientific literacy. The American Biology Teacher, 75(3), 170-175.

Balgopal, M.M., Wallace, A.M., & Dahlberg, S. (2012). Writing to learn ecology: A study of three populations of college students. Environmental Educational Research, 18(1), 67-90.

Feild-Berner, N. & Balgopal, M.M. (2011). Knowledge is power: Educating children about Type II diabetes. Science & Children, 49(3), 32-36.

Balgopal, M.M.  & Bondy, C. (2011) Antigenic shift and drift: Modeling the evolution of the influenza virus. The Science Teacher, 78(2), 34-38.

Balgopal, M.M. & Montplaisir, L.M. (2011). Meaning making: what reflective essays reveal about biology students’ ideas about natural selection Instructional Science: An International Journal of the Learning Sciences, 39(2), 137-169.

Balgopal, M.M. (2010) Trailmix genetics: protein synthesis in two acts. Science Activities, 4 (1), 22-28.

Balgopal, M.M., Cornwall, S., Gill-Robertson, H., & Reinhart, D. (2009). Solving the mystery of mock mummies: Using scientific inquiry skills in an integrated lesson. Science Scope, 33(3), 14-21.

Balgopal, M.M. & Ode, P.J. (2009). Quantitative ecology: Constructing life history tables. The American Biology Teacher, 71(5), 295-299.

Balgopal, M.M. & Wallace, A.M. (2009). Dilemmas and decisions: The use of guided writing to increase ecological literacy of elementary education majors. Journal of Environmental Education, 40(3), 13-26.