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College of Education

Faculty and Staff

Ashley J. Gess, Ph.D.

Title: Clinical Assistant Professor, Ed.D. STEM
Department: Teacher Education
College of Education
Ashley Gess, Ph.D.


Ashley Gess, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of STEM and STEAM Education at the University of South Carolina where she is Co-Coordinator of the Ed.D. in Integrated STEM Education. Gess holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Integrative STEM Education from Virginia Polytechnic and State University. Prior to working as a professor of Education, Gess spent 15 years in the K-16 science classroom as a Chemistry teacher and Biology professor. Influenced by her 20 years of being in the science and science education classroom, Gess focuses her research primarily toward understanding cognitive and behavioral impacts of the design process on teachers, students, and others in professional practice. Additionally, she is particularly interested in how the Integrative STEM and STEAM educational approaches (anchored in the design process) may be utilized to promote authentic, faith-based education. She regularly publishes, speaks, and consults in regional, national, and international venues on the STEM and STEAM educational approaches and the centrality of the design process in professional practice.


Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Curriculum and Instruction 2015
Area of Concentration: Integrative STEM Education

Dissertation:  The Effect of the Design Process on Science Student Self-Efficacy and Content Knowledge.
Adviser:  John Wells, Ph.D.

MA Furman University, Secondary Science Education 1995
Summa Cum Laude
Area of Concentration:  Biological Science

BS College of Charleston, Biology 1988 



Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications

Zechariah, S., Waller, J. L., Stallings, J., Gess, A. J., & Lehman, L. (2022). Item-level analysis of anewly developed interactive nutrition specific physical exam competency tool (INSPECT) using the Rasch measurement model. Healthcare, 10(2), 259. Retrieved from

Zechariah, S., Waller, J. L., Stallings, J., Gess, A. J., & Lehman, L. (2022). Inter-rater and intrarater reliability of the INSPECT (Interactive nutrition specific physical exam competency tool) measured in multi-site acute care settings. Healthcare, 10(2), 212. Retrieved from

Buning, M., Bennett, H., Gess, A., & Anderson, S. (2021). The effect of mental performance training (via instructional rounds) on umpires’ self-efficacy to perform. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 19, S219-S220.

Zechariah, S., Waller, J. L., De Leo, G., Stallings, J., Gess, A. J., & Lehman, L. (2021). Content and face validation of a novel, interactive nutrition specific physical exam competency tool (INSPECT) to evaluate registered dietitians’ competence: A delphi consensus from the United States. Healthcare9(9), 1225. Retrieved from   

Gess, A. H., Brivio, E. & De Leo, G.  (2021). Signature pedagogy for entrepreneurship education: An emerging perspective. International Journal for Business Education, 162, 82-107.

Zechariah, S., Lehman, L., Waller, J. L., De Leo, G., Stallings, J., & Gess, A. J. (2021).  Item generation in the development of an interactive nutrition specific physical exam competency tool (INSPECT): A qualitative study utilizing technology- based focus groups in the United States. Healthcare, 9(576), 1-17.

Gess, A., Brivio, E., Heboyan, V., D’Oria, M., Beltrame, F., Tagliasco, V., De Leo, G. (2020).Knowledge, use, and perceptions of metaphors among allied health faculty. Journal of Allied Health, 49(1), 45-52.

Gess, A. H., & Kuo, N. C. (2019). Special education pre-service teachers’ perspectives and practices about STEAM. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals, 41-63.

Gess, A. & Hargrove, S. (2019). The missing link: Providing a scaffold for STEAM education. Technology and Engineering Teacher, 78(5).

Gess, A., Li, S., Zhou, S., & Doak, S.  (2017). Peer knowledge sharing outside the undergraduate STEM classroom.  New Directions in the Teaching of Physical Sciences, 12.  Retrieved from:

Gess, A. H.  (2017). STEAM education:  Separating fact from fiction.  Technology and Engineering Teacher, 77(3), 39-41.


Technical reports

Gess, A. & Brown, R.  (2017). [Grant Summative Report]. Current status of educational efforts and recommendations for future STEAM-aligned implementation: Phinizy Center for Water Sciences.

Conference Papers


Peer Reviewed

Gess, A. & D’Oria, M.  (2018, March). Beyond Boundaries:  A narrative inquiry on learning “Togetherness” in scientific education.  Paper presented at European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) Conference on “Togetherness and its discontents”, Turin, Italy.  Paper retrieved from:


Abstract Reviewed

Gess, A.  (2014, May).  Design-Based Virtual Biology:  Finally, something that works.  Data presented at the Annual Meeting of Association for Biology Laboratory Educators, Calgary, Canada. Retrieved from [pdf]

Gess, A.  (2011). The learning community: A framework for integrative STEM education in the American community college. League for Innovation: Learning Abstracts, 14(6).


Papers In Preparation

Gess, A. H. & Nowatkowski, M. Training the lively mind: Toward a signature pedagogy for cybersecurity education.

Nowatkowski, M. & Gess, A. H. Building Teacher Confidence in Computer Science/Cybersecurity T3C). [editing].

Gess, A. H. I-STEM education: A culturally sustaining pedagogy.  

Gess, A. H. Laying Tracks:  Supporting STEM and STEAM educators in the PK-12 classroom.

Byebiroha, D., Kabenge, F., Lonyera, J., Owoyesigire, F., Ssali, J., Gess, A.H. Emulating the master teacher in primary and secondary education.


Research in Process

Gess, A. H.  Impacts of artistic design on teacher self-perception. [in analysis].

Gess, A. H. Design in Competition:  Impacts on underrepresented students in STEM persistence. [in analysis]

Kitsmiller, K., Young, R. & Gess, A. H. Global perceptions of STEM and STEAM education over the last 10 years. [in analysis]

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.