Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP)

Fiona J. Hughes-McDonnell Ed.D.

Associate Professor of Teacher Education
woman smiling in a black shirt against a dark background

Office Location

8 Bailey Hall, Gorham



Academic Degrees

  • Ed.D., Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • M.A. Education, Tufts University
  • B.A. Zoology, University of New Hampshire


Dr. McDonnell researches and publishes in the field of teacher education. She is a long-time educator and has held a range of leadership roles in public education that include senior academic leader at a community college, and associate principal for curriculum and instruction and secondary science teacher in the PK-12 public school system. She has served on the NH Council for Teacher Education and Professional Education Standards Board, the Massachusetts Alliance for Socio-Emotional Learning and Boston Area Girls STEM collaborative.

Areas of Expertise

  • Progressive and Holistic Education
  • Teacher Development
  • Critical Exploration in the Classroom
  • Inquiry-Based Learning and Teaching
  • Collaborative Processes for Looking at Student Work
  • STEM Education
  • Preparation of STEM Teachers
  • Qualitative and Ethnographic Research Methods
  • Epistemology
  • Science and Science Education
  • School Re-Design and Transformation
  • Democratic Education, and the contributions of Piaget
  • Inhelder
  • Dewey and Duckworth to the field of education.

Research Interests

Dr. McDonnell finds great joy working with teachers --in-service and pre-service-- to create environments that ignite curiosity, inspire imagination, unleash creativity, and liberate human potential. Her research examines the nature of learning and how people come to know what they know and pedagogies that engage teachers as teaching-learning-researchers such that they become active contributors to the field of teaching and learning. She has a profound belief in the hope, possibility, and ideals of public education and is inspired by teachers who work to advance equity, justice and the common good, calling forth the brilliance in all children, most especially those who have been disenfranchised.

Developing Pedagogies for Teacher Education, Utilizing Learning Research and Developmental Psychology  in Teacher Education,  Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning, Understanding Student Experience in the Science Classroom, Epistemological Barriers to Persistence in Science, Developing Models of Inquiry-Based Professional Development.

Recent Publications

  • Hughes-McDonnell, F. (2021). Learning and Teaching for Deep Learning. In S. Mayer and M.K. Delaney (Eds.), In search of wonderful ideas: Critical exploration in teacher education. Columbia, NY: Teachers College Press.
  • “A Tribute to Sir Ken Robinson.” Ottawa Child Friendly Community Day, Nov. 20, 2020. Panel presentation with Peter Gammel, Michael Wilson.
  • Hughes-McDonnell, (2016). Looking at learning as preparation for teaching. The New Educator, 12, (1-20).
  • Hughes-McDonnell, & 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), 195-211.
  • Cavicchi, , 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, (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, (2005, July). Why so few choose physics: An alternative explanation for the leaky pipeline. American Journal of Physics, 73 (7), 583-596.
  • Cavicchi, , Lucht, P. & Hughes-McDonnell, F. (2001). Playing with light. Educational Action Research, 9 (1), 25-49.
  • Cavicchi, & 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).


  • “Genevan Learning Research as a Pedagogy of Teacher Education.” In “Reclaiming ‘Constructivist’ Commitments to Democracy and Equity within Pedagogical Practice and Theory,” a panel paper presentation with Susan J. Mayer, Mary Kay Delaney; discussion chair Jeremy Berman. Jean Piaget Society: Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development, Philadelphia, May 28-30,
  • “Critical Exploration in the Classroom as a Deep Learning Pedagogy for Preparing Teachers to Create Deep Learning Communities in the K-12 Classroom,” Jean Piaget Society: Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development, Philadelphia, May 28-30,
  • “A Democracy of Ideas,” Association for Moral Education, 42nd Annual Conference, Cambridge, MA, December 8-11, 2016.
  • “Learning to Teach for Understanding.” In “Welcoming Interactive Dynamic Engagement in Classrooms: Piaget and Inhelder Speak to Education Today.” Jean Piaget Society: Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development, Chicago, June 9-11,
  • “A Service Learning Project with a Neighborhood Elementary School Provides a Context for Preparing Preservice Teachers for the Challenges of Teaching Inquiry- Science” (with Based A. Houston-King, Kuehl, T. Rosien), Massachusetts Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA. Fall Conference, October 31, 2014.
  • “Developing Professional Practice through Involving Students of Teaching in Learning Research,” American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, PA, April 2014.
  • “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, Jean Piaget Society: Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development, Quebec City, Canada, June 7, 2011.
  • “Using the Inquiry Learning Cycle to Teach Science in the Elementary Grades,” NEA-NH Fall Conference, Bow, NH, October 8, 2010.
  • “Science Learning as a Creative Act.” In Duckworth (Chair), Development through creativity and ‘wonderful ideas’: Student explorations of art and science, Jean Piaget Society: Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development, Baltimore, MD, June 2006.

Professional Activity

Critical Explorers, Cambridge, MA, Board of Directors

Southern New Hampshire Science Teachers’ Collaborative, founding member

Alternative Education Resource Organization

Alliance for Self-Directed Education