Associate Professor of Science Education; Director of the Center for Science Education
Ed.D, Harvard Graduate School of Education; M.A., Tufts University; B.A., University of New Hampshire
Office hours: By Appointment
Office: Room A-422C
In one line of research she examines the development of teachers' pedagogical content knowledge. Specifically, she introduces critical exploration pedagogy into her work with teacher education students such that they might construct knowledge and insights of teaching and learning that will inform curriculum development and guide instructional practice. In a second line of research she conducts collaborative research with in-service teachers. In a third line of research she explores the sense students make of their early experiences with science and the consequences these experiences have on their images of science and scientists and future course-taking patterns.
Dr. Fiona McDonnell is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire where she obtained her undergraduate degree in zoology. From 1982-1990 she taught secondary science in southern New Hampshire where she received several awards for her teaching and community involvement. During her years as a classroom teacher she collaborated with scientists and other classroom teachers on the development of nationally recognized inquiry-based science curricula. Her interest in exploring the nature of human learning and conditions that support learning led her to pursue graduate study. She completed a master's degree at Tufts University in 1991 and continued study at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she completed a doctoral degree in 2000 in Teaching, Curriculum and Learning Environments, with a special focus in science education. Prior to joining the Education Department at Emmanuel College she taught at Rivier College and also at Clark University and Harvard Graduate School of Education. She served a six-year term on the New Hampshire Professional Standards Board and Council for Teacher Education, state boards charged with developing policy regarding professional standards for teachers and the oversight and governance of teacher preparation programs.
- American Association of University Women, Washington, DC
- American Education Research Association, Washington, DC
- Association for Constructivist Teaching, New York, New York
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Virginia
- Jean Piaget Society: Society for Knowledge and Development, Berkley, CA
- National Science Teachers' Association, Arlington, Virginia
Significant Publications & Presentations
Hughes-McDonnell, F. & Burgess, D. (June, 2011) Teachers' explorations of science and students' science learning promotes knowledge and understanding of teaching, learning and inquiry. LEARNing Landscapes, Special Issue: Inquiry: Perspectives and Practices, 4 (2)
Cavicchi, E., Chiu, S., & Hughes-McDonnell (2009). Introductory paper on critical explorations in teaching art, science and teacher education. The New Educator, 5(3), 189-204.
McDonnell-Hughes, F. (2009). "I wonder how this little seed can have so much potential:" Critical exploration develops pre-service teachers potential as researchers and teachers of science. The New Educator, 5(3), 205-228.
McDonnell, F. (2005, July). Why so few choose physics: An alternative explanation for the leaky pipeline. American Journal of Physics, 73 (7), 583-596.
Cavicchi, E., Lucht, P. & Hughes-McDonnell, F. (2001). Playing with light. Educational Action Research, 9 (1), 25-49.
Cavicchi, E. & Hughes-McDonnell, F. (2001). Introducing inquiry into the experiences of new teachers of science. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the History of Science Society, Denver: Co. (Eric Document Reproduction Service No. ED 470 928)
Hughes-McDonnell, F. Teaching, Learning, and Inquiry. Paper presentation as part of symposium, "A journey with Piaget": Teachers' explorations into learning develop understandings of teaching science and other areas. Presented at 41st Annual Meeting of The Jean Piaget Society: Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development. Conference theme: Cultural Supports for Developing Mathematical and Scientific Reasoning. Berkeley, CA, 2-4 June 2011.
Teaching as transitioning from I-it to I-thou relationships among learners, teachers and subject matter. In B. Shorr (Chair), Between I and Thou: Developing Curriculum through a Pedagogy of Relation. Symposium conducted at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Quebec City, Canada. (2008, June).
"Inklings of Science Arise in Watching Pendulums." NSTA Boston National Conference. Boston, MA. (March 2008).
"Teaching as an act of Research." Invited Presentation, 7th Annual Teacher Research Conference, University of New Hampshire, Manchester. Manchester, NH. (May 2009).
"Joys and challenges of moving from teacher to student-centered inquiry." Invited address with E. Cavicchi prepared for Project P.R.O.B.E. Leitzel Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH.
Critical explorations in a science methods classroom. In E. Duckworth (Chair). Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois. (April 2007).
Science learning as a creative act. In E. Duckworth (Chair), Development through creativity and ‘wonderful ideas': Student explorations of art and science. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Baltimore, MD. (2006, June).
Understanding how classroom practices shape students' images and beliefs about physics. Paper presented at the Joint Meeting of American Physical Society/ American Association of Physics Teachers, Columbus, OH. (1998, April).
Thinking about learning and teaching as forming communities of dialogue among learners, teachers, and the world of nature and ideas. Paper presented at New England Educational Research Organization, Portsmouth, NH. (2006, April).
Promoting understanding of subject matter and science teaching in an elementary science methods course. Paper presented at New England Educational Research Organization, Portsmouth, NH. (2005, April).
Engaging with nature: reflections among teachers learning science. Paper presented at New England Educational Research Organization, North Hampton, MA. (2004, April).
Teaching teachers, teaching science. Paper presented at New England Educational Research Organization, Portsmouth, NH. (2003, April).
Physics students' perspectives on their learning, experiences, & research. Paper presented at Visions of Education and Community Conference, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. (1997, February).
Worlds apart: Gender in the physics classroom. Paper presented at Annual Student Research Conference, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. (1996, December).
Students' understandings of force and motion: A cross-age study. Poster presented at meeting of the Science Education Department, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA. (1995, December).