Erin Furtak
Professor of STEM Education
STEM Education • CU Teach

Miramontes Baca Education Building, Room 183B
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Erin Marie Furtak, PhD, is Professor of STEM Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A former high school science teacher, Erin transitioned into a career studying how science teachers learn and improve their daily classroom practices through formative assessment. In a series of multiple studies, Dr. Furtak has been partnering with teachers, schools, and districts to learn how teachers can design, enact, and take instructional action on the basis of classroom assessments that they design. Her recent publications have examined the ways in which the design and enactment of classroom assessments can promote more equitable participation in science learning.

Dr. Furtak received the 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and the German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2006). Her research and professional writing has been published in multiple journal articles,  research-and practitioner-oriented books,  book chapters, humorous essays, and advice columns. She also conducts extensive service to the teaching profession through long-term research and professional development partnerships with school districts and organizations in Colorado and across the US.


PhD Curriculum and Teacher Education, Stanford University, 2006
MA Education, University of Denver, 2001
BA Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado Boulder, 1999

Aspire Partnership: Research-Practice Partnership for Formative Assessment and Science Teacher Learning. Long-term partnership supported by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and CU Office of Outreach and Community Engagement.

Elevate Project: Educative Learning Progressions as Supports for Teacher Development. NSF CAREER Project focused on longitudinal study of teacher and student learning around formative assessment of Natural Selection.

Selected public talks:

Assessment for Curricular Efficacy (Invited keynote address). National Council of Measurement in Education Classroom Assessment Conference, Boulder, Colorado, September 2019. 

What Reality TV Taught Me about Everyday Assessment. EduTalk, School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder, May 2019. 

Supporting Teachers Formative Assessment Design and Enactment. STEM for All Showcase, 2015. 

EDUC 4060/5060: Classroom Interactions

EDUC/MCDB 4811/5811: Teaching & Learning Biology

EDUC 8730: Advanced Qualitative Analysis: Mixed Methods

EDUC 8804: Scholarly Writing for Graduate Students

EDUC 8165/8175: Advanced Seminar in Mathematics and Science Education

Associate Dean of Faculty, School of Education (2018-present)

Co-Director, Sandra K. Abell Institute for Doctoral Students, National Association of Research in Science Teaching (2015)

Committee Member, Updating America’s Lab Report, Board on Science Education, National Academies of Sciences (2017-2018)

Coach, European Science Education Research Association Doctoral Summer School (2016, nominated by National Association of Research on Science Teaching; 2017, nominated by Executive Board of the European Science Education Research Association)

(For complete list of publications, please see the faculty member's curriculum vitae.)

Kang, H. & Furtak, E.M. (2021). Learning Theory, Classroom Assessment, and Equity. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 40(3), 73-82.

Fine, C. & Furtak, E.M. (2020). The SAEBL Checklist: Science classroom assessments that work for emergent bilingual Learners. The Science Teacher, 87(9), 38-48.

Fine, C. & Furtak, E.M. (2020). A framework for science classroom assessment task design for emergent bilingual learners. Science Education, 104(3), 393-420.

Furtak, E.M. (2020, November 19). Professor, Interrupted: The legacy of constant disruptions. Chronicle of Higher Education.

Furtak, E.M. (2020). What reality TV taught me about everyday assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 101(7).

Furtak, E.M., Heredia, S.C., & Morrison, D.M. (2019). Formative assessment in science education: Mapping a shifting terrain. In H. Andrade, R. Bennett, and G. Cizek (Eds.), Handbook of Formative Assessment, Volume Two. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Furtak, E.M. & Penuel, W.R. (2019). Coming to terms: Addressing the persistence of “hands-on” and other reform terminology in the era of science as practice. Science Education, 103(1), 167-186.

Furtak, E.M., Bakeman, R. & Buell, J.Y. (2018). Developing knowledge-in-action with a learning progression: Sequential analysis of teachers’ questions and responses to student ideas. Teaching and Teacher Education. 76, 267-282.

Furtak, E.M., Circi, R. & Heredia, S.C. (2018). Exploring alignment among learning progressions, teacher-designed formative assessment tasks, and student growth: Results of a four-year study. Applied Measurement in Education, 31(2) 143-156.

Furtak, E. M., Ruiz-Primo, M. A., & Bakeman, R. (2017). Exploring the Utility of Sequential Analysis in Studying Informal Formative Assessment Practices. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 57(1), 90–92.

Heredia, S.C., Furtak, E.M., & Morrison, D. (2016). Exploring the Influence of Plant and Animal Item Contexts on Student Response Patterns to Natural Selection Multiple-Choice Items. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 9(10), 1-11.

Heredia, S. C., Furtak, E. M., Morrison, D., & Renga, I. P. (2016). Science Teachers’ Representations of Classroom Practice in the Process of Formative Assessment Design. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 27(7), 697-717.

Taylor, J., Furtak, E. M., Kowalski, S., Martinez, S., Slavin, R., Wilson, C., & Stuhlsatz, M. (2016). Research Syntheses in Science Education: Cross-Case Analyses and Implications for Research Design, Replication, and Reporting Practices. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 53(8), 1216-1231.