SCOTT MCDONALD, PhD
2008 KSTF Research Fellow
College of Education
Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Scott McDonald has been fascinated by the process of teaching for as long as he can remember. His grandmother used to call him ‘professor,’ his mother was an elementary school teacher, and he grew up in the university town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Prior to earning his PhD in learning technologies in science education at the University of Michigan, Scott taught high school science in the Boston area for five years. “I left teaching for academia because I felt I would be able to investigate the questions I was really interested in, those having to do with teaching and learning.”
Under a grant from the National Science Foundation, Scott worked on a project at the University of Michigan to develop technology and curricula for middle school science in collaboration with the Detroit public schools where his research focus was on supporting teacher development. Since becoming a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University, he has founded the Invisible College for Inquiry Science Study (ICISS), a research and teaching group. Scott makes extensive use of Studiocode video analysis software in his research and as a teaching tool in his undergraduate and graduate courses. He is also interested in how disruptive technologies (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs) can support teaching and learning.
Scott earned his bachelor’s degree in physics at Colorado College, and his master’s in teaching from the University of Michigan. An avid cook and mountain biker, he skied in Vail, Colorado for two years after college while supporting himself as a hotel desk clerk and bookkeeper.
Scott’s project explores how expert and beginning teachers perceive the teaching of science. “New science teachers have to overcome years of being students in science classes to be able to think about teaching in new ways.” Scott’s project attempts to break this cycle and help new teachers understand how excellent teachers do what they do, especially when it comes to talking to students about their science ideas. “New teachers need to learn how to stop being a science student and become a science teacher. To do this they need to relearn how to see a classroom and relearn how to listen to students.” To support this transition from science student to science teacher, Scott spends a lot of time with new teachers analyzing video of excellent science teaching to begin to understand what good teaching looks like and how it gets done.
Scott’s then studies the video analysis documents, as well as transcripts of focused discussion following the video analysis of the lessons. Differences between the two groups of teachers are described in detail along with implications for science teacher education. Capturing differences between the way expert and novice teachers analyze the same examples of teaching allows us to not only understand the differences, but develop ways of supporting new teachers as they learn to see like experts.
Awards and Recognitions
Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Education, Pennsylvania State University (2007-08)
- McDonald, S. P. (2008). Seeing the science: Professional pedagogical vision for instructional leaders. Catalyst for Change. 35(2), 12-18.
- McDonald, S.P. (in press) Seeing the science: Differences in professional vision between practicing and preservice teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education.
- McDonald, S.P. (in press). Building a conversation: Preservice teachers’ use of video as data for making evidence-based arguments about practice. Educational Technology.
- McDonald, S., Criswell, B. & Dreon, O. (2007). Inquiry in the chemistry classroom: Perplexity, model testing and synthesis. In Luft, J., Gess-Newsome, J. & Bell, R. (Eds.). Science as Inquiry in the Secondary Setting. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press.
- McDonald, S. P. & Kelly, G. J. (2007). Understanding the construction of a science storyline in a chemistry classroom. Pedagogies, 2(3), 165-177.
- McDonald, S. P. & Songer, N. B. (2008). Enacting classroom inquiry: Theorizing teachers’ conceptions of science teaching. Science Education. 92(6), 971-993.