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Martha Kurtz

Professor, Chemical Education

Phone: (509) 963-1422 
Fax: (509) 963-1050 


  • 1995 - Ph.D., Arizona State University.
  • 1987 - M.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • 1985 - B.S., Northern Arizona University.

Academic Experience:

  • 9/08 - present Director, Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education
  • 9/08 - present Chair, Science Education Department
  • 2/08 - present Professor, Chemistry and Science Education
  • 12/07 - 7/08 Interim Dean, College of the Sciences
  • 6/01 - 12/07 Chair, Department of Chemistry, Central Washington University
  • 9/01 - 2/08 Associate Professor, Chemistry and Science Education; Central Washington University
  • 9/98 - 12/07 Science Education Program Director; Central Washington University
  • 9/95 - 9/01 Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Science Education; Central Washington University
  • 10/88 - 6/95 Laboratory Coordinator, Senior; Arizona State University

Research Interests:

I am interested in discovering teaching pedagogies that improve student critical thinking skills. Currently I am collaborating with a colleague in biology to assess critical thinking skill improvement in general education science courses. We have tested such strategies as writing, the use of case studies, and community-based inquiry.

I am also interested in using the environment as a context for integrated learning in K-16 classrooms. For example, in Project CAT (Cougars and Teaching) at Cle Elum/Roslyn School District students asked the question: "How is Cle Elum changing when viewed through the eyes of a cougar?" Students worked with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to collar and track cougars. Students working with me have created integrated curricula tied to Project CAT. I have also been working with the Ellensburg School District to integrate around a Yakima River Watershed theme. Recently we received a large NSF grant to support this work by having chemistry graduate students work in 5th-12th grade classrooms. Many students have done academic service learning projects with me including developing curricula, creating contextual learning, and designing a state park interpretive trail brochure.

Recent Publications:

  • Quitadamo, I. J., Faiola, C.*, Johnson, J., & Kurtz, M. J. (2008) Community-based Inquiry Improves Critical Thinking in General Education Biology. Cell Biology Education-Life Science Education, 7, 327-337.
  • Quitadamo, I., Kurtz, M., Sorey, T., Pratt-Sitaula, B., and Palmquist, B. "Using e-Portfolio to Assess Pre-Service Teacher Performance," Journal of Washington Science Teachers Association, Nov. 2006.
  • Kurtz, M. J.; Oursland, M.; Quitadamo, I. J. "Cougars across the curriculum: Using just-in-time technology to support integrated student research, preservice teacher development, and enhanced K-12 learning." Leadership Information, 5:4, p. 31, 2006.
  • Kurtz, M. J. "Environment-based Integrated Learning: Building a Sustainable Future;" Proceedings of 4th International Conference on Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, p. 359, 2006.
  • Kurtz, M. J.; Oursland, M.; and Quitadamo, I. J. "Just-in-Time Technology that Supports Cougar Research Across the Curriculum;" Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education 16th International Conference Proceedings, p. 2701, 2005.
  • Kurtz, M. J.; Oursland, M; Miller, J. and Quitadamo, I. "Project CAT" in PT3 Monograph, pg. 17, 2005.
  • Kurtz, M. J. and Holden, B. E. "Analysis of a Distance Education Program in Organic Chemistry," J. Chem. Ed., 78, p. 1122, 2001.
  • Baxter, L. M. and Kurtz, M. J. "When a Hypothesis is Not an Educated Guess," Science and Children, 38:7, p. 18, 2001.
  • Kurtz, M. J. and Birk, J. P. "The Effect of Experience on the Retention and Elimination of Misconceptions on Molecular Structure and Bonding," J.Chem. Ed., 76, p. 124, 1999.

Recent Grants:

  • "Yakima Watershed Activities To Enhance Research," NSF: GK-12, co-PI, $3M, funded for 5 yrs., 2007.
  • "Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education," CWU Spheres of Distinction, PI, $61,000, 2006.
  • "Organic Chemistry," Higher Education Coordinating Board High Demand Programs, PI, $189,000, 2006.
  • "Tools for Lifelong Learning," CWU SOAR Grant, co-PI, $8,500, 2005.
  • "MSP Watershed Investigation Project," OSPI, Math/Science Partnership Program, Senior Personnel, $720,897, funded for 3 yrs., 2004.
  • "Lincoln School Partnership," CWU Foundation Len Thayer Small Grant, PI, $590, 2004.
  • "Middle Level Math/Science Endorsement," Higher Education Coordinating Board High Demand Programs, PI, $379,490; funding converted to annual base budget, 2003.
  • "In Answer to A National Challenge: A Pilot Program to Increase Participation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) Fields," National Science Foundation, STEP, co-PI, $249,987, funded for 3 yrs., 2002.