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Faculty - Jonathan Shemwell

Jonathan Shemwell
Assistant  Professor of Education, Cooperating Assistant Professor of Physics,
and member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education

Office: 330 Shibles Hall
(207) 581-2411


  • 1989   B.S., Physics (cum laude) United States Naval Academy, Annapolis
  • 1990   M.S., Applied Physics  Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  • 1993   Certified Nuclear Engineer Officer  Office of Naval Reactors, Washington DC
  • 1998   Certified (Alternative) Teacher  Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • 2003  Secondary Science Certification and State of  Illinois Master Teacher  National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • 2011   Ph.D, Science Education  Stanford University, Stanford, CA


Jon Shemwell strives to build theories of science thinking and learning that inform and propel the design of instruction.  His research interests include cognitive representations, especially mental models; classroom discussion and scientific argumentation; alternative modes of science learning such as using contrasting cases; and assessment.

Recent Publications:

Chase, C. C., Shemwell, J. T., & Schwartz, D. L. (2010). Explaining across contrasting cases for deep understanding in science: An example using interactive simulations. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Chicago.

Furtak, E. M., Shavelson, R. J., Shemwell, J. T., & Figueroa, M. (in press). To teach or not to teach through inquiry: is that the question? In S. Carver & J. Shrager (Eds.), The journey from child to scientist: Integrating cognitive development and the education sciences.  Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Furtak, E. M., Ruiz-Primo, M. A., Shemwell, J. T., Ayala, C. C., Brandon, P., Shavelson, R. J., et al. (2008). On the fidelity of implementing embedded formative assessments and its relation to student learning. Applied Measurement in Education, 21(4), 360-389.

Furtak, E. M., Hardy, I., Beinbrech, T., Shavelson, R. J., & Shemwell, J. T. (2010). A framework for analyzing reasoning in science classroom discourse. Educational Assessment.

Shemwell, J. T., & Furtak, E. M. (2010). Scientific argumentation and science discussion: A study of conceptually rich (and poor) student talk. Educational Assessment.

Shemwell, J. T., & Furtak, E. M. (2009). Argument-driven formative assessment and conceptual science learning. Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego.

Shemwell, J.T., & Furtak, E.M. (2009), Problems with argumentation for conceptual science learning: when arguments and explanations diverge.  Annual Meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Amsterdam.

Shemwell, J. T., Fu, A. C., Figueroa, M., Davis, R. D., & Shavelson, R. J. (2010). Assessment in schools – secondary science. In P. Peterson, D. Baker & B. McGaw (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (3rd ed., pp. 300-310). Oxford: Elsevier


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