Sara Donaldson

Assistant Professor of Education






Doll's House 201

Tuesdays 11:15-12:15; Thursdays and Fridays by appointment

(508) 286-3670


Sara is co-coordinator of the Early Childhood and Elementary Education programs. She comes from a background of classroom teaching, mentoring, and instructional coaching in public schools throughout New England. As a professional development consultant, online course instructor, and clinical educator, Sara has also worked with pre-service and practicing educators for over a decade developing their ability to promote equitable access to high-quality STEM learning opportunities in their classrooms.

Sara serves on the board of directors for the Rhode Island Mathematics Teacher’s Association and on the education committee for Sail Newport working to expand access to STEM learning in local communities throughout her home state.


Ed.D., Johns Hopkins University

M.Ed. in Elementary Education, University of New Hampshire

B.A. in Social Work, University of New Hampshire

Research Interests

Sara Donaldson’s research builds from findings that critical discourse and shared knowledge development promote learning engagement and outcomes and centers on examining the influence of instructional design (structures, systems, and processes) on learners’ perceptions of belonging, agency, self-efficacy, and ultimately knowledge and skill development. She is committed to using her experience as a former elementary and middle school public school teacher to use her research to support the empowerment of diverse learners in multiple contexts.


Ed.D. Specialization: Instructional Design for Online Teaching and Learning

Dissertation Title: “A Mixed Methods Study of Critical Colleagueship as Sustainable Support for Elementary Mathematics Leaders”

Teaching Interests

A former elementary and middle school teacher Sara Donaldson co-coordinates Wheaton’s Early Childhood and Elementary Education program. She advises early childhood and elementary education licensure candidates and teaches courses in special education, mathematics content, and science and mathematics instructional methods.


  • Special Education: PreK-12 (ED 251)
  • Concepts in Mathematics (MATH 133)
  • Teaching Mathematics and Science (ED 385)
  • Seminar in Teaching Methods (ED 495)
  • Student Teaching Practicum (ED 496)


Donaldson, S., Yuhaniak, H., Borkoski, C., & Abel, Y. (in press). Promoting transformative learning using critical pedagogy and Moore’s theory of transactional distance. In E. Mikulec & T. Ramalho (Eds.). Best Practices in Teaching Critical Pedagogy Online. La Vergne, TN: Do It Ourselves Press.

Borkoski, C., Donaldson, S., & Caldwell, K. (in press). Continuous improvement applied to an online doctoral course: Cultivating a sense of community and scholarly conversation. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching.

Donaldson, S. (2019). Becoming a team: Establishing conditions for critical colleagueship and shared leadership. Tennessee Education Leadership Journal, 46(2).

Donaldson, S. (2019). A tale of two lessons: Focusing STEM learning on content and empowerment.

Donaldson, S. & Borkoski, C. (2019). 3 C’s for Technology Integration: Coordination, Collaboration and Construction. The Exchange, 32, 7-10.

Donaldson, S., Caldwell, K., & Borkoski, C. (2018). Connected: Building meaningful relationships for online learning. The Exchange, 31, 9-12.

Donaldson, S. (2017). Critical colleagueship: Teaming up for professional growth. New England Mathematics Journal, L(2), 19-29.

Manuscripts Reviewed

Bush, S.B. & Cook, K.L. (2019). Step into STEAM: Your Standards-Based Action Plan for Deepening Mathematics and Science Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Karp, K.S., Dougherty, B.J., & Bush, S.B. (in press). The Math Pact, Elementary: Achieving Instructional Coherence Within and Across Grades. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


“Windows, Mirrors, & Doors: Using Authentic Problems and Children’s Literature to Promote Equity” (National Council of Mathematics Regional Conference, Boston, MA, 2019)

“Using Bridging Media to Build Student Leaders” (New England Faculty Development Consortium Fall Conference, 2019)

“Number Line Use with Fractions” (Rhode Island Mathematics Teachers Association Spring Meeting, 2019)

“Why Tricks Are Not for Kids: Uncovering Rules that Expire and Their Impact on Learners” (Rhode Island Mathematics Teachers Association Spring Meeting, 2019)

“Leveraging Technologies for Deeper Knowledge Construction” (New England Faculty Development Consortium Fall Conference, 2018)

“Supporting Academic Literacy for All: Developing Students’ Ability Read, Write, Listen, Speak, and Think Like Mathematicians” (Association of Mathematics Teachers New England Fall Conference, 2018)

“Strategies for Building Meaningful Student-faculty Relationships to Increase Online Engagement” (New England Faculty Development Consortium Spring Conference, 2018)

“Connected: Building Community and Engaging in Authentic Learning in Higher Education” (Lilly Conference-Bethesda: Designing Effective Teaching, 2018).

“Fraction Operations in the Common Core” (Rhode Island Mathematics Teachers Association’s Spring Rhode Show, 2013)

Grant work

“PRIME-ELL”: Rhode Island Department of Education funded collaborative   grant between Roger Williams University and the Providence, RI Public Schools, working to develop urban educators’ capacity to support ELL students in mathematics education.

“Encore Mathematics Program”: Math-Science Partnership (MSP) funded collaborative grant between Roger Williams University and the Providence, RI Public Schools, working to support mathematics content and pedagogical knowledge and skills of teachers and instructional coaches in grades 3-5.