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Nancy Songer - Drexel Univeristy Dean of the School of Education
Dean and Distinguished University Professor
  • One Drexel Plaza, Suite 100
    3001 Market Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • 215.895.2167

Nancy Butler Songer, PhD


PhD, University of California, Berkeley
MS, Tufts University
BS, University of California, Davis

Program Affiliation

Philly Scientists
  • Songer, N.B. and Kali, Y. (in press) Science Education and the Learning Sciences as Coevolving Species. Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences.
  • Gotwals, A. W. and Songer, N.B. (2013) Validity evidence for learning progression-based assessment items that fuse core disciplinary ideas and science practices. The Journal of Research in Science Teaching 50(5), 597-626.
  • Songer, N.B., Shah, A.M., and Fick, S. (2013) Characterizing teachers’ verbal scaffolds to guide elementary students’ creation of scientific explanations. School Science and Mathematics 113(7), 321-332. 
  • Peters, V. and Songer, N.B. (2013) Evaluating the usability of a professional modeling tool repurposed for middle school learning. Journal of Science Education and Teaching (JSET). DOI 10.1007/s10956-012-9422-8.
  • Songer, N.B. and Ruiz-Primo, M. (2012) Assessment and Science Education: Our essential new priority? The Journal of Research in Science Teaching (49) 6, 683-690.
  • Songer, N.B. and Gotwals, A. W. (2012) Guiding explanation building for elementary students at the entry points of learning progressions. The Journal of Research in Science Teaching (49) 2, PP. 141–165.
  • Songer, N.B., Kelcey, B., and Gotwals, A. (2009) When and How Does Complex Reasoning Occur? Empirically Driven Development of a Learning Progression Focused on Complex Reasoning about Biodiversity. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. (46)6, 610-631.
  • Songer, N.B. (2007) Digital Resources Versus Cognitive Tools: A Discussion of Learning Science with Technology. In S. Abell and N. Lederman (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Science Education. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. P. 471-491.
  • Songer, N.B., Lee, H.S. and McDonald, S. (2003). Research Towards an Expanded Understanding of Inquiry Science Beyond One Idealized Standard. Science Education 87(4) 490-516.
  • Philly Scientists, an NSF-funded project to benefit science education in Philadelphia. Learn more at
  • Urban education
  • STEM education
  • Complex scientific reasoning in primary and secondary students

  • University of Michigan
    Director, Center for Essential Science
    Professor, Science Education and Learning Technologies
    Chair, Department of Educational Studies
    Program Director, Educational Technology
  • University of Colorado, School of Education
Nancy Songer, PhD, is Dean and Distinguished University Professor for Drexel University's School of Education. Prior to arriving at Drexel in 2014, Dr. Songer was at the University of Michigan where she served as chair of the Department of Educational Studies, was a professor of science education and director of the Center for Essential Science, a multi-disciplinary research organization addressing the underrepresentation of urban students in the fields of science,. She is known for her research into how to engage and support complex scientific thinking among students ranging from elementary to high school ages. Her scholarship has received frequent recognition including a Presidential Faculty Fellowship awarded by President Clinton. While at Drexel, Songer has led a College-wide planning process resulting in a Strategic Plan focused on urban education, pedagogical innovation, and lifelong learning. Songer is also a leader in the Department of Education $30 million Promise Neighborhood grant focused on providing quality educational experiences for 7,000 students within the Philadelphia Promise Zone, an area of persistent poverty in West Philadelphia. Songer is also the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation grant focused on youth ages 9-12 mapping the biodiversity of their West Philadelphia neighborhoods and drawing on their data to make recommendation to urban planners. Dr. Songer began her career as a faculty member at the University of Colorado, after completing her doctorate in science education at the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a master’s degree in molecular and developmental biology from Tufts University and studied biology as an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.