Shirley Magnusson


rank Professor
office location 02-132



  • Ph.D., University of Maryland - College Park Curriculum and Instruction in Science Science Teaching Center
  • M.S., University of Iowa - Iowa City Science Education Science Education Center
  • B.S., University of Missouri - Columbia Education (secondary science)


Research Interests

My primary research interests are learning and instruction in science. My investigation of learning has particularly dealt with physical science concepts that are part of the curriculum in the elementary and middle school grades. It has also involved the use of an approach called dynamic science assessment that employs specific scaffolding on the part of the researcher as a means to determine students’ potential to learn specific concepts. My interest in instruction is particularly with respect to teaching from a guided inquiry approach. It includes investigation of learning via the interplay of 1st hand experiences with physical phenomena and second-hand experiences examining what others have learned about the physical world, particularly as conveyed via text-based resources. Research in this arena has included the development of novel forms of text to convey the nature of scientific activity during investigation of specific phenomena common in children’s lives, and it has included examination of how students with disabilities fare in the context of such ambitious instruction. I am also interested in the relationship between teacher knowledge and student learning, particularly with respect to the specialized knowledge for teaching subject matter known as pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).


  • Palincsar, A. S., Magnusson, S. J., & Hapgood, S. (2007). Examining “Expert Guidance” in the Context of Inquiry-based Science Teaching: Applying Lenses that Ann Brown Honed to the Study of Teachers’ Practice. In J. C. Campione, K. Metz, and A. S. Palincsar (Eds.), Children's learning in the laboratory and in the classroom: Essays in honor of Ann Brown (pp. 113-136). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Magnusson, S. J. & Palincsar, A. S. (2006). The application of theory to the design of innovative texts supporting science instruction, In M. Constas & R. Sternberg (Eds.), Translating Educational Theory and Research into Practice (pp. 31-52). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.
  • Baxter, J., & Magnusson, S. J. (2005). Learning in Science and Mathematics: The Role of Philosophy, Theory, and Methodology in Shaping Our Developing Understanding. In C. Conrad & R. Serlin (Eds.), SAGE Handbook for Research in Education: Engaging Ideas and Enriching Inquiry (pp. 157-174). SAGE Publications.
  • Magnusson, S. J. & Palincsar, A. S. (2005). Teaching to promote the development of scientific knowledge and reasoning about light. In J. Bransford & S. Donovan (Eds.), How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom (pp. 421-476). Washington D. C.: National Academies Press.
  • Magnusson, S. J., Palincsar, A. S., & Templin, M., (2004). Community, culture, and conversation in inquiry-based science instruction. In L. Flick, & N. Lederman (Eds.), Scientific Inquiry And The Nature Of Science: Implications for Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education (pp. 131-155). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Magnusson, S. J., Borko, H., & Krajcik, J. S. (1999). Nature, sources, and development of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching. In J. Gess-Newsome & N. Lederman (Eds.), Science Teacher Knowledge (pp. 95-132). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Magnusson, S. J., Templin, M., & Boyle, R. A. (1997). Dynamic science assessment: A new approach for investigating conceptual change Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6(1), 91-142.
  • Magnusson, S. J. (1996). Complexities of learning with computer-based tools: A case of inquiry about sound and music in elementary school. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 5(4), 297-309.


Courses Taught

  • EDUC 432 – Teaching Science and Mathematics with a Multicultural Perspective
  • EDUC 436 – Learning to Teaching Science with a Multicultural Perspective
  • EDUC 455 – Multiple Subject Student Teaching Seminar I 
  • EDUC 457 - Multiple Subject Student Teaching Seminar II
  • EDUC 414 – Curriculum and Inquiry in Public Schools
  • UNIV 424 – Design of Museum Displays on Science, Engineering and Technology


View Curriculum Vitae

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