Allison Gonsalves

Academic title(s): 

Associate Professor

Graduate Program Director | Director, Science Education Laboratories

Allison Gonsalves
Contact Information




Email address: 
allison.gonsalves [at]

Ph.D, McGill University (2010)
M.Sc, University of Guelph (2001)
B.Sc, University of Western Ontario (1998)

Research Interests

  • Science Education
  • Science identities
  • Identity trajectories
  • Sociocultural theory
  • Gender and physics education
  • Informal Science Education
  • University-community partnerships
Departmental Leadership
Tenure-Track Professors
Current research: 
My research program involves the tracing of "science identity trajectories" across learning spaces, and the intersections of social identities experiences that shape these movements. I have worked extensively in the area of gender and physics education research, and my current research program investigates the role of science outreach in post-secondary students' identity work in STEM fields.


Principal Investigator

Innovative science education in out-of-school-time spaces: Tracing the impact of a science teaching internship experience for pre-service teachers and youth.
Funding: SSHRC Insight Grant (2019-2024)
Investigators: Allison Gonsalves (PI); Jrène Rahm, (Co-PI, Université de Montréal)

In Quebec, and across Canada and the U.S., preservice teachers (PSTs) often leave elementary teacher education programs unprepared to teach reform (inquiry-based) science. PSTs are also often unfamiliar with elementary-aged youth and the social and learning contexts they come from. This may be because elementary PSTs have limited practical opportunities to develop science teacher identities that are essential to implementing reform science teaching practices. Relatedly, research suggests that youths' disengagement from science begins in the late elementary years and is pronounced in youth from disadvantaged communities. Youth often lack opportunities to participate in inquiry-based science learning situations that support their identification as insiders-to-science. Research suggests that out-of-school-time (OST) science programs can provide opportunities for science to be reconceptualized, and thus support learning for both the youth and the PSTs engaged in the program. Hence, the aim of this study is to evaluate the potential of OST science programs led by PSTs to contribute to 'science identity' development for both PSTs and youth.
Research Assistants: Emily Sprowls (PhD student, Integrated Studies in Education); Julianna Zelt (MA student, Integrated Studies in Education), Gurveer Brar (MATL, Integrated Studies in Education)


Western, T. (PI), and Gonsalves, A. (Co-PI). Getting out of the silo: The impact of transdisciplinary, pedagogical research experiences on undergraduate science student identities and career trajectories. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant, 2022-2024. (Collaborator: Asghar, A).


Danielsson, A. (PI), Nyström, A-S. (Co-PI), Gonsalves, A., and Johansson, A. The unlikely scientists: Exploring what has enabled students from under-represented groups to continue to higher education science studies. Swedish Research Council Educational Sciences Project Grant (2018-2022)


Principal Investigator

Learning for the Future: Understanding the impacts of collaborative learning among future teachers, future environmental scientists and youth as they engage issues of sustainability.
Funding: McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative (2021-2022)
Investigators: Allison Gonsalves (PI), Emily Sprowls (Co-PI), Blane Harvey (Collaborator)
This study investigates the outcomes of a sustainability-focussed outreach program which pairs pre-service teachers (PSTs) with environmental science majors (ESMs) to learn alongside elementary-aged youth. We will investigate the impact of the program on: a) PSTs’ knowledge of and perceptions of teaching for sustainability; b) perceptions that ESMs have of their role as environmental science communicators; and c) youths’ engagement in sustainability issues. We also seek insight into the facilitation of equitable collaborations among youth, PSTs, and ESMs, as we support transdisciplinary inquiry-based learning for sustainability.

Tracing the impact of a science teaching outreach experience on preservice teachers and undergraduate science majors
: SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2019-2022)
Investigators: Allison Gonsalves (PI); Jrène Rahm, (Co-PI UdeM), Diane Dechief (Collaborator, McGill)

This study will evaluate the potential of a science outreach program to contribute to the development of ‘science identities’ (confident feelings as insiders to science) among elementary pre-service teachers (PSTs) and undergraduate science majors (USMs). This outreach program pairs up PSTs and USMs to co-teach science to elementary-aged youth, in a unique transdisciplinary community-university partnership. Science education outreach—teaching science to youth in after school contexts—has been shown to be a critical opportunity to influence both science teaching and practice capabilities among PSTs and USMs. This study will examine the outcomes of an intervention that invites four pairs of PSTs and USMs to co-teach reform-based science to youth in a unique science outreach program in two elementary schools in Montréal. We anticipate that these collaborative educational outreach experiences will provide opportunities for both groups to build their science and pedagogical content knowledge; support their confidence-building as teachers and communicators of science; and promote the development of their science identities and science teacher identities.
Research Assistants: Emily Sprowls (PhD student, Integrated Studies in Education); Julianna Zelt (MA student, Integrated Studies in Education)

Vers une stratégie pédagogique plus efficace pour mobiliser les filles de minorités visibles à parler de science de manière productive
Funding: Fonds de recherche société et culture (2017-2020)
Principal Investigator: Allison Gonsalves

Community-based programs and after-school science clubs have been demonstrated to provide important settings for pre-service teachers (PSTs) to learn about youth, their interests and lives outside of school, and may help PSTs develop connections with young people in ways that open them up to learning about the funds of knowledge that youth bring to learning situations. These placements, outside of the school environment, can provide PSTs with an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation of the vast and various learning contexts that students navigate. Out-of-school-time (OST) science programs also make important settings for novice scientists to make contact with youth in non-academic settings. Often, after-school clubs are mediated by undergraduate or college-level science students, many of whom have scant experience working with youth. Little is known about how these interactions influence undergraduate science students’ perspectives on science and teaching. We know already that many novice scientists are involved in ‘science outreach’ activities, and that these activities can provide academic supports for tutored students, but we know relatively about how experiences may can support learning experiences for these undergraduate science majors (USMs) in ways that might transform how they think about and enact science communication practices. In this study, we wish to know more about how novice teachers – both PSTs and USMs see science and see themselves in science, and how opportunities to engage young people in science talk might help to build a new generation of science communicators.
Research assistants: Alex Cavalcante (Doctoral Student, Integrated Studies in Education), Hailey Iacono (MA Graduate, Integrated Studies in Education)
Study completed Winter 2020

Understanding networks of support for under-represented STEM students
Principal Investigator:
Allison Gonsalves
Funding: Internal Social Sciences and Humanities Development Grant (2018-2019), Tomlinson University-Level Science Teaching Project (2018-2019), SALTISE Mini-Grant (2019)

Researchers in science education have demonstrated that women and under-represented minorities, especially women of colour, do not persist in STEM fields at the same rate as their White male peers because of social and interpersonal factors. Research investigating factors related to success in STEM fields suggest that persistence depends on the development of a STEM-identity. Others have shown that participation in STEM clubs/organizations improves under-represented students’ persistence in STEM programs. However, few researchers have examined the link between science-identity formation and the resources students can access through equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives in STEM. We are interested in the roles that these initiatives can play in under-represented students’ identity work and persistence in physics particularly. Research shows that EDI clubs/organizations can provide “counterspaces” for students’ identity work that may impact their persistence. We argue that these spaces may support the development of network ties which allow for the flow of a unique set of resources needed for identity work. Both human and material resources are needed for students to position themselves as “insiders” within their disciplines. To capture the kinds of resources that may flow through these spaces, and the social interactions that facilitate identity work in physics, we propose the use of social network theory and particularly longitudinal social network analysis (SNA). Using analytical tools from SNA and identity theory, this research examines the networks of support that students access through an EDI club developed to support women in physics.

Research Assistants: Hannah Chestnutt (Faculty Lecturer, Integrated Studies in Education), Julianna Zelt (MA student, Integrated Studies in Education), Abigail Spielkevitz (Undergrad student, Department of Computer Science)
Study completed Winter 2020


Berge, M. (PI), Silfver, E., Danielsson, A., Gonsalves, A., and Ottemo, A. Remoulding Engineering: Knowledge and Identity Perspectives on Project Work in Engineering Education. Swedish Research Council Educational Sciences Project Grant (2015-2018)

Selected publications: 

(2020-onwards) See Google Scholar Citation Profile for a complete list of publications

Selected Journal Articles
(*Doctoral students, **MA students)

  1. Gonsalves, A., Danielsson, A., Avraamidou, L., Nyström, A-S., and Esquivel, R.* (in press). Using story-based methodologies to explore physics identities: How do moments add up to a life in physics? Physical Review Physics Education Research.
  2. Danielsson, A., Johanssen, A., Nyström, A., and Gonsalves, A. (2023). Young peoples’ online science practices as a gateway to higher education STEM. Research in Science Education.
  3. Rahm, J. and Gonsalves, A. (2023) Refiguring research stories of science identity by attending to the embodied, affective, and non-human. Frontiers in Education 8:1083992. doi:10.3389/feduc.2023.1083992
  4. Gonsalves, A., Danielsson, A., Johansson, A., Nyström, A-S. (2022). Other spaces for young women’s identity-work in physics: Resources accessed through university-adjacent informal physics learning contexts in Sweden. Physical Review Physics Education Research. 18,
  5. Rahm, J., Gonsalves, A., Touiouia, F., Anaviapik-Soucie, T., and L’Hérault, V. (2022). Learning and Becoming in Movement at the Intersection of Formal and Informal Science: Attending to Wayfaring, Intersectionality, Emotions, and Epistemologies. International Journal of Informal Science and Environmental Learning. 2, 3, (online) 1-18.
  6. Rahm, J., Gonsalves, A., Lachaîne, A. (2022). Young women of color figuring science and identity within and beyond an afterschool science program, Journal of the Learning Sciences, DOI: 10.1080/10508406.2021.1977646
  7. Silfver, E., Gonsalves, A., Danielsson, A., and Berge, M. (2022). Gender equality as a resource and a dilemma: Available repertoires in Engineering Education in Sweden. Gender & Education.
  8. Gonsalves, A., *Cavalcante, A., *Sprowls, E., and **Iacono, H. (2021). “Anybody can do it if they’re brave enough”: Understanding the role of science capital in science majors’ identity trajectories into and through post-secondary science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 58, 8, p. 1117-1151.
  9. Gonsalves, A., Wiseman, D., and *Sprowls, E. (2021). Teaching novice science teachers online: Considerations for practice-based pedagogy. LEARNing Landscapes. 14, 111-123.
  10. Ottemo, A., Gonsalves, A., and Danielsson, A. (2021). (Dis)embodied masculinity and the meaning of (non)style in physics and computer engineering education. Gender & Education. DOI: 10.1080/09540253.2021.1884197
  11. Gonsalves, A. (2020). Constructing inside-ness to physics: How matter comes to matter for physics identity work. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 15(4), pp. 911-921.
  12. Gonsalves, A. and Chestnutt, H. (2020). Networks of support: Investigating a counterspace that provides identity resources for minoritized students in post-secondary physics. The Physics Teacher, 58, pp. 324-327.
  13. *Gosling, C., and Gonsalves, A. (2020). Lessons from research exploring the underrepresentation of women in physics. The Physics Teacher. 58, pp. 342-344.
  14. Gonsalves, A. (2020). Operationalizing intersectionality to understand recognition in the landscape of becoming. Cultural Studies of Science Education. 15, pp. 347–357.

(Available at McGill Libraries)
Gonsalves, A
., and Danielsson, A. (2020). Physics Education and Gender: Identity as an Analytic Lens for Research. Springer Press.

Selected Book Chapters
(*Doctoral students)

  1. Bowen, G. M., Wiseman, D., Shanahan, M.-C., Khan, S., Gonsalves, A., Sengupta, P., Simms, W., Knoll, E., Carter, A. (2023). STEM in Canadian teacher education: An overview. In Al-Balushi, S.M., Martin-Hansen, L., & Song, Y. (Eds.) Reforming Science Teacher Education Programs in the STEM Era: International Practices, Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. Danielsson, A., Avraamidou, L., and Gonsalves, A. (2023) Gender Matters: Building on the Past, Recognizing the Present, and Looking Toward the Future. In N. Lederman, D. Zeidler, and J. Lederman (Eds). Handbook of Research in Science Education. Routledge. pp. 263-290.
  3. Gonsalves, A., and Rahm, J. (2023). “It was always about relationships, and it was awesome”: Girls performing gender and identity in an out-of-school science conversation club. In L. Archer and H. Holmegaard (Eds). Science Identities: Theory, method, and research. Springer Press. pp. 47-66.
  4. *Cavalcante, A., and Gonsalves, A. (2021). Undergraduate science majors’ identity work in the context of science outreach: Investigating the role of science capital. Olivia Levrini et al. (Eds), Engaging with Contributions from Science Education Research, Chapter 14, Vol. 9, Contemporary Challenges through Science Education Research Series, Springer Press. (9 pgs) DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-74490-8
  5. Gonsalves, A., and Danielsson, A. (2020). Who needs identity in Physics Education Research? In (Eds) A. Gonsalves and A. Danielsson, Physics Education and Gender: Identity as an Analytic Lens for Research. Springer Press.
  6. Gonsalves, A., Wiseman, D., *Vanderzwet, L., *Spencer, K.R., *Cartier-Archambault, V. (2020) Beyond the binary: Are there really only two sexes? In S. Woolley and L. Airton (Eds). Teaching about Gender Diversity: Teacher tested lessons for K-12 classrooms. Canadian Scholars Press.


Graduate supervision: 

I supervise students in the fields of science education with a particular focus on science identities, and informal science learning contexts. I am not currently accepting students for the 2023-2024 year.

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 

2020 Faculty of Education’s Heather Reisman and Gerald Schwartz Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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