Faculty of Education

Dr Isha DeCoito

Assistant Professor


I am a graduate of OISE/University of Toronto where I specialized in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, with a focus on science education. Prior to joining the Faculty of Education at Western University, I was an educator at universities in Canada and the United States, including OISE/UT, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, York University, and Wayne State University in Detroit. I have taught science and mathematics in teacher education programs, as well as in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto.

To date, I have been involved as principal investigator and collaborator on over 16 projects in science and mathematics education. My work in science teacher education — in both in-service and pre-service contexts — has been closely integrated with my scholarship and is strongly influenced by my particular philosophical and methodological positions. My overriding educational goals are to a) make school science more relevant and personally fulfilling for all students, and b) establish connections between other disciplines, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), while developing 21st century learning skills.

I am the 2014 recipient of the President’s University-Wide Teaching Award at York University.

I am also the past Environmental Education Program Committee Coordinator for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), and a Guest Editor for an upcoming special issue of The Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education dedicated to STEM education.

Expertise Areas


Essentially, much of my work focuses on enhancing scientific and technological literacy in different contexts for all students, and investigates approaches and tools for improving teaching and learning in and about science, either directly or through professional development initiatives. I have adopted an extensive mix of social science and technical research methodologies in all areas of my research. My research interests include projects organized under the following overarching themes:

  1. Exploring multiliteracies (and multiliteracy pedagogy) including communication and representation of meaning in different contexts.
  2. Promoting inquiry and STEM integration in science.
  3. Exploring and promoting diversity and equity in science education.
  4. International and comparative education.
  5. Teacher professional development which is embedded in most of the research projects, including those dedicated to STEM education, action research, Japanese lesson study, diversity and equity, and inquiry frameworks.

Ongoing and recently completed projects include:

  1. A Longitudinal Study (Phase II): Investigating the Impact of an Outreach Program on Students’ Future Course Selection and STEM Career Choices.
  2. Teaching and Learning Science, Mathematics, and Technology in a Kenyan Context.
  3. Exploring the Development of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Projects in Teacher Education.
  4. A Longitudinal Study (Phase I): Investigating the Impact of an Outreach Program on Students’ Future Course Selection and STEM Career Choices.
  5. Addressing Social Justice through School Gardens.
  6. Developing Teacher Candidates’ Digital Competencies in a Science Education Program.
  7. Scientists in School: Aboriginal Science Outreach Study.
  8. Exploring the Nature of Science through an Online Digital Game.

Recent Publications

Books & Monographs

McNay, M. (2009). Western Guide to Curriculum Review. London, ON: The University of Western Ontario Teaching Support Centre.

Chapters In Books

McNay, M. (2009). "Immigrants, labourers, 'others': Canada's Home Children," in L. Lerner (Ed.), Depicting Canada's Children. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

McNay, M. (2003). The need to explore: Non-experimental science fair projects. In Science Fairs Plus: Reinventing an Old Favorite, K-8, pp. 54-56. Washington, D.C.: NSTA Press.

Teaching and Supervision

Current Courses (2014-2015)


  • Teaching Science & Technology in the Primary/Junior Divisions


  • Diverse Traditions: Approaches to Educational Research
  • Introduction to Multiliteracies Pedagogy

Courses Taught

  • Teaching Science & Technology (Junior/Intermediate)
  • Teaching Biology (Intermediate/Senior)
  • Teaching Science (Intermediate/Senior)
  • Teaching Physics/ Chemistry (Intermediate/Senior)
  • Teaching Environmental Science (Intermediate/Senior)
  • Teaching Math – (Intermediate/Senior)
  • Secondary Methods & Materials to Teaching Science II
  • Developing Skills of Inquiry, Design & Communication
  • Teacher Education Seminar - Action Research
  • Evolution and Adaptation (Faculty of Arts & Science, UT)