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William F. McComas is the inaugural holder of the Parks Family Endowed Professorship in Science Education at the University of Arkansas where he directs the Project to Advance Science Education (PASE). This follows a career as a biology and physical science teacher in suburban Philadelphia and professorship at University of Southern California. He has earned B.S. degrees in Biology and Secondary Education, M.A. degrees in Biology and Physical Science and the Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of Iowa.
At the University of Arkansas he teaches classes in educational research methods, curriculum design, the history and philosophy of science for science educators, issues in science education, advanced science teaching methods and The Darwin Course, a highly interdisciplinary class for honors undergraduates. He is also the director for the Professoriate, a campus-wide program sponsored by the UA Graduate School designed to assist doctoral students in securing positions and earning tenure and promotion in higher education institutions.
McComas has served in leadership roles with the National Science Teachers Association, the International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group, the National Association of Biology Teachers and the Association for Science Teacher Education. McComas is a recipient of the Outstanding Evolution Educator and Research in Biology Teaching awards, the Ohaus award for Innovations in College Science Teaching and the ASTE Outstanding Science Teacher Educator award.
McComas is interested in the improvement of laboratory instruction including science fairs, evolution education, the interaction of the philosophy of science and science teaching, science education for gifted students, and science instruction in museums and field settings.
He has written and edited several books including The Nature of Science in Science Education: Rationales and Strategies. He has given more than 100 keynote speeches, workshops and presentations at public events and professional meetings in the U.S. and in more than a dozen other countries. In 2012 McComas was a Fulbright Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning (CASTeL) at Dublin City University, Ireland. In 2014 he was named the Editor of the American Biology Teacher, an award winning journal of research and practice in life science and biology education.
He has chaired more than 30 doctoral dissertations. Thirteen former students now hold professorships in science, science education or post-doctoral fellowships in education at locations worldwide with many others of his students involved in science education leadership positions in museums, schools and in classrooms.
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2006-present. Professor of Science Education and inaugural holder of the Parks Family Endowed Professorship in Science Education (Reappointed to a third five year term in 2015). Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education and Health Professions. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701. I have developed a new M.Ed. degree (with a focus area in science education, among others) to add to our existing Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction. Supporting courses include Issues in Science Education, the Philosophy of Science and Advanced Science Teaching Methods. In addition, I teach Educational Research Methods, Interdisciplinary Strategies and Curriculum Foundation courses for all students in the secondary Master of Arts in Teaching program. Additional duties have included Assistant Department Head and Graduate Coordinator (2009-2014), Director of the campus-wide Future Professoriate Program (2007- ) sponsored by the University of Arkansas Graduate School and Senior Advisor to UTeach, Arkansas (2010- ), Vice Chair of the UA Faculty Senate (2013- ).
1992-2006. Associate Professor of Science Education, Founding Director of the Program to Advance Science Education (PASE). Vice Chair and Chair of the Division of Learning and Instruction (1998-2002), Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0031. I developed a master's program in science education and science education concentrations within the existing doctoral degrees. Further, I established courses in elementary science education methods and three linked science content/pedagogy classes in biology, physical science and earth/space science to enhance science content and pedagogy for elementary teachers. Administrative duties included responsibility for graduate student admissions and scholarships, departmental budgeting, staffing and departmental faculty teaching schedules.
1991-92. Visiting Assistant Professor. Science Education Center of the University of Iowa. Iowa City, IA 52242. Member of the off-campus master’s program instructional team.
1990-91. Teaching Assistant. Science Education Center of the University of Iowa. Duties involved assisting in instruction in the science teaching methods class and monitoring students during their internship experiences. In addition, responsibilities included placing, visiting and evaluating student teachers along with the design of an orientation manual for the interns and their cooperating teachers.
Spring 1990. Non-majors Biology Adjunct Instructor. Montgomery Country Community College. Blue Bell, PA 19422.
1988-89. Research Assistant. Science Education Center of the University of Iowa. Research coordinator for the Science, Technology and Society (S/T/S) project which examined the effectiveness of the S/T/S teaching philosophy by assessing student achievement in cognitive and affective domains. Duties included the design of assessment instruments, workshop presentations, research protocol design, data analysis, and the production of monthly articles and technical reports.
1988-89. Instructor in the Science Education Center of the University of Iowa. Responsibility for the design of Science Teaching Methods I, the first of three courses leading to secondary science teacher licensure. This course focused on science instruction in the elementary school providing secondary teachers in training with background in child development. Responsibilities included the development of a comprehensive readings manual to complement the practicum and seminar portions of this course. In addition to teaching, I supervised students in the practicum setting in local schools.
1978-88 and 1989-90. Biology, General Science, and Life Science Teacher. Norristown Area School District, Norristown, PA 19403. I taught general science and life science at the middle level for two years and college preparatory and remedial biology and physical science at the secondary level for ten years. As a biology instructor I used BSCS Green, Modern Biology, and Prentice-Hall Biology texts in both regular and summer sessions, developed a biology laboratory manual and aided in the development and evaluation of a program of individualized biology instruction. Co-sponsor of international programs with responsibility for arranging a student exchange program to the Castleview School Sunderland, England.
1977-78. Biology, Earth Science and Environmental Science Teacher. Wissahickon Senior High School, Ambler, PA 19002. I taught ninth-grade ISCS Earth Science and several sections of traditional biology and developed an elective course in environmental science for advanced students.