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Dr. Scott P. McDonald

Dr. Scott P. McDonald
Phone: 8148652190
Office Address:
146 Chambers Bldg
University Park, PA 16802
Campus: University Park


Professor of Education (Science Education)
Director, Krause Innovation Studio


Curriculum and Instruction
Krause Innovation Studio


Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education
Secondary Education: Science Education


Dr. Scott McDonald is a Professor of Science Education at The Pennsylvania State University and Director of the Krause Innovation Studio in the PSU College of Education. He received his undergraduate degree in Physics with a focus on Astronomy and Astrophysics. He was high school Physics teacher for six years before returning for a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies and Science Education at the University of Michigan. Dr. McDonald's research focuses on the intersection of teaching and learning of science and science teaching with technology. His work in the Krause Innovation Studio investigates how technology, particularly in the form of learning spaces, can support higher education teaching and learning. In science education, he researches teacher learning, framed as professional pedagogical vision, of ambitious and equitable science teaching practices. He also is engaged in research in learning progressions in Plate Tectonics and Astronomy as part of his NSF funded Earth and Space Science Partnership and The Geological Models for Explorations of Dynamic Earth (GEODE) project. His work has also been funded by the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Mellon Foundation.

Areas of Expertise

Curriculum Areas

Science Ed

Education Levels

Middle School/Junior High
Professional Education
Secondary/High School

Education Types

Public Ed
Rural Ed
Urban Ed

Leadership Preparation

Teacher Prep


Instructional Methods and Design
Learning Sciences

Methodological Research

Discourse Analysis
Qualitative Research

Teacher Preparation

In-service Teachers
Pre-service Teachers
Professional Development


Computer Technology
Instructional Design
Video/Visual Technology

Courses Taught

SCIED 412: Teaching Secondary Science II

SCIED 552: Science Teaching and Learning

CI 597X: Disruptive Technologies in Teaching and Learning

Education History

Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2004; M.S., University of Michigan, 2001; M.A.T., University of Michigan, 1992; B.S., Physics, Colorado College, 1989

Representative Publications

McDonald, S. (2016). The Transparent and the Invisible in Professional Pedagogical Vision for Science Teaching. School Science and Mathematics, 116(2), 95-103.

Ozcelik, A. and McDonald, S. (2016) Professional Pedagogical Vision as a Way of Thinking About Reflection on Practice. School Science and Mathematics.

Plummer, J. D., Palma, C., Flarend, A., Rubin, K., Ong, Y. S., Botzer, B., McDonald, S. and Furman, T. (2015). Development of a Learning Progression for the Formation of the Solar System. International Journal of Science Education, 37(9), 1381–1401.

Emig, B., McDonald, S., Zembal-Saul, C. & Strauss, S. G. (2014). Inviting Argument by Analogy: Analogical-Mapping-Based Comparison Activities as a Scaffold for Small-Group Argumentation. Science Education.98(2), 243-268

McDonald, S.P. & Rook, M. (2014). Digital Video Analysis to Support the Development of Professional Pedagogical Vision. In B. Calanda & P. Rich (Eds.) Video analysis in teacher education. New York: Routledge.

Sezen, A., Tran, M., McDonald, S.P. and Kelly, G. (2014). A cultural historical activity theory perspective to understand preservice science teachers’ reflections on and tensions during a microteaching experience. Cultural Studies in Science Education.1-23.

Osczlik, A. & McDonald, S. (2013). Preservice Science Teachers' Uses of Inscriptions in Science Teaching. Journal of Science Teacher Education. 24(7),1103-1132.

Rook, M. M. & McDonald, S. P. (2012). Digital records of practice: A literature review of video analysis in teacher practice. In P. Resta (Ed.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012 (pp. 1441-1446). Austin, TX: AACE.

McDonald, S. & Kelly, G. (2012). Beyond Argumentation: The Rich Complexity of Discourse in Science Classroom. In Khine, M.S. (Eds.). Perspectives on Scientific Argumentation: Theory, Practice and Research. Dordrecht: Springer.

Kelly, G.J., McDonald, S., & Wickman, P. O., (2012). Science learning and epistemology. In K. Tobin, B. Fraser, & C. McRobbie, (Eds.) Second International Handbook of Science Education (pp. 281-291). Dordrecht: Springer.

McDonald, S. P. & Songer, N. B. (2008). Enacting Classroom Inquiry: Theorizing Teachers’ Conceptions of Science Teaching. Science Education. 92(6), 971-993.


Co-Primary Investigator (2016 - 2020). Geological models for Explorations Of the Dynamic Earth (GEODE): Supporting middle school students’ learning through geodynamic modeling. National Science Foundation, Discovery Research K-12, Early State Full Design and Development Project to the Teaching Strand (DRK-1621176).

Co-Primary Investigator (2010 - 2015), Targeted Math Science Partnership – Middle Grade Earth and Space Science Education. Math Science Partnership (MSP) Project. National Science Foundation (DUE - 0962792).

Activities and Honors

Primary Investigator (2012), The Cross Cultural Nature of Professional Pedagogical Vision, The Fulbright Association.
Primary Investigator and Project Director (2008 - 2010), Understanding Professional Pedagogical Vision for Inquiry Science Teaching. Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, Early Career Research Fellowship.