Before enrolling at CU Boulder as a doctoral student, Caitlin Fine was a science teacher in a dual-language elementary school in Virginia, where she was often frustrated by her district’s narrative that teaching science in Spanish was a “nice bonus” and teachers need to prepare students for English-language multiple-choice state science assessments. She felt too little class time was spent on student engagement with and sensemaking about science phenomena, and she knew something needed to change.
The most important part of my time at CU Boulder was growing as a scholar along with my fellow cohort-mates. Moving through all of the PhD milestones from attending our first AERA conference through dissertation defenses and navigating the job market has deepened our relationships. I am excited to continue to grow as a scholar with the group of critical friends that I developed during my time at CU Boulder."
The School of Education and the Equity, Bilingualism, and Biliteracy program faculty’s critical stances and interdisciplinary nature attracted Fine to CU Boulder, where she hoped she could influence educational change.
Beyond her own exemplary teaching, Fine has made significant contributions – both with her research and her service – to teaching and teacher preparation more broadly.
As a doctoral student the Equity, Bilingualism, and Biliteracy program with a focus on STEM education, Fine was instrumental in shaping the redesign of science and assessment coursework in elementary teacher education, in supporting alignment in the elementary teacher education program and in redesigning and delivering coursework in culturally/linguistically diverse assessment for the program’s master’s program.
Fine’s contributions to elementary teacher education have gone far beyond the typical participation of a graduate student. In addition to working closely with Melissa Braaten to design and teach the Science Methods course, she served as the course designer and was the first instructor for both Assessment for Bilingual Learners, one of the culturally and linguistically diverse education endorsement courses, and the STEM Module for fourth year students focused on reading and STEM assessment.
At the master’s level, Fine significantly updated and taught Diagnostic Assessment, a required course for the culturally and linguistically diverse education endorsement.
“Caitlin's relentless insistence on asset-based stances and actions when working with minoritized communities, her thoughtful design of pedagogical tools, and her deep understanding of the complex contexts of K-12 schooling make her a powerful teacher educator,” said the faculty nomination committee that selected Fine as one of the 2022 Outstanding Graduates for Teaching.