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Dana, Nancy

Nancy DanaProfessor
School of Teaching and Learning
College of Education
University of Florida
2215C Norman Hall
PO Box 117048
Gainesville FL 32611


Research Biography

Since beginning her career in higher education at The Pennsylvania State University in 1992, and continuing at the University of Florida since 2003, Dr. Dana’s research has targeted the development of more effective professional learning through practitioner inquiry (also known as teacher inquiry, practitioner research, or action research). Defined as the systematic and intentional study by teachers of their own practice, Dr. Dana has examined for the past 30 years the ways this form of professional learning impacts individual educators, as well as the contexts in which they enact their practice. A sustained focus on refining the strategy and studying its impact has resulted in the publication of 11 books and over 100 articles and book chapters on or related to professional learning through practitioner inquiry conducted by teachers, teacher candidates, administrators, and university educators.

Dr. Dana’s early work was defined by three subthemes. The first was teacher leadership as experienced and new practitioners engage in inquiry and take evidence-based actions to promote student learning and school improvement. The second subtheme centered on the contexts in which teachers learn to teach and expand their knowledge of effective practice. In particular, Dr. Dana examined ways in which structures like Professional Development Schools (PDS) and Professional Learning Communities (PLC) support educator inquiry as a form of professional development. The third subtheme examined the ways inquiry plays out in the professional learning of specific groups of educators (i.e., principals, doctoral students, K-12 virtual teachers, university faculty).

While her earlier work focused primarily on Face-to-Face professional learning through inquiry, the translation of inquiry into online settings was enabled through scholarship conducted while holding a UF Research Foundation Professorship (2012-2014), as well as through Dr. Dana’s attainment of two federally-funded grants from the US Department of Education/Institute for Education Sciences totaling over $4,000,000 to develop and study a year-long online professional development program for teachers grounded in inquiry. With a commitment to seamlessly integrate her scholarship and teaching practices, throughout the entirety of her career, she has also studied the design and impact of award-wining programs featuring inquiry that she developed at Penn State and UF, with a particular focus on the role inquiry plays in graduates’ abilities to apply content and disciplinary thinking to foster improvement within their own teaching contexts.

She has won several awards for her teaching, research, and writing including UF’s Doctoral Student Mentoring and Online Teaching awards, the Association of Teacher Educators Mentoring and Distinguished Research in Teacher Education awards, and the National Staff Development Council (now Learning Forward) Book of the Year Award.  In 2019, she was named a finalist for the prestigious Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching given by Baylor University, and was inducted into UF’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars in 2021.

In addition to her work as a distinguished researcher and teacher at the University of Florida, Dr. Dana works extensively in supporting schools, districts, and universities in implementing powerful programs of job-embedded professional learning through teacher research/inquiry in several states and countries.  Her travels have included work in Belgium, the Netherlands, China, South Korea, Estonia, Slovenia, Spain, and Portugal, where she delivered a week-long course on inquiry for representatives from nine different European nations.  Her work on inquiry-oriented pedagogy has been translated into several different languages.

At the University of Florida, she has worked to embed inquiry as a signature pedagogy into the undergraduate teacher education program, as well as developed and taught two popular classes on inquiry at the master’s and doctoral levels.  She was instrumental in the development of the University of Florida’s Teacher Leadership for School Improvement Program and Professional Practice Doctorate in Teachers, Schools, and Society, programs recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the #1 Online Graduate Education Programs in the nation, and developed a new undergraduate elementary teacher education program featuring equity pedagogy.


Ph.D. – Florida State University, 1991, Elementary Education

M.S. – State University of New York at Oswego, 1988, Gifted and Talented Education

B.S. – State University of New York at Oswego, 1986, Elementary Education

Key Professional Appointments

Professor, University of Florida, School of Teaching and Learning, 2003-Present

Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, 1998-2003

Activities & Honors

  • University of Florida Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars (2021)
  • Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate 2020 Program of the Year (The Professional Practice Doctorate in Teachers, Schools, and Society)
  • Finalist, Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, Baylor University (2019)
  • University of Florida Doctoral Student Mentoring Award (2019)
  • Association of Teacher Educators Duaine C. Lang Mentoring in Teacher Education Award (2018)
  • University of Florida Online Teaching Award (2017)
  • Florida State University College of Education Distinguished Alumna in Postsecondary Systems Award (2015)
  • University of Florida Research Foundation Professor (2012)
  • Association of Teacher Educators Distinguished Program in Teacher Education Award (The Teacher Leadership for School Improvement Program) (2011)
  • New York Teacher Impact Award (2009)
  • National Staff Development Council Book of the Year Award (2008)
  • Florida Association for Staff Development Outstanding Staff Development Practices Award (2005)
  • Association of Teacher Educators Distinguished Research in Teacher Education Award (2005)


Efficacy of Prime Online: Teacher Professional Development for Inclusive Elementary Mathematics Classrooms, ($3,237,063) Washington, DC:  Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Research-based Practice in Inclusive Elementary Mathematics Classrooms, ($1,533,653.00). Washington, DC: Institute of Educational Sciences.

Selected Publications


Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D.  (2020).  The reflective educator’s guide to classroom research:  Learning to teach and teaching to learn through practitioner inquiry, 4th Edition.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.

Yendol-Hoppey, D., Dana, N. F., & Hoppey, D.  (2019).  Preparing the next generation of teachers for clinical practice.  Charlotte, NC:  Information Age Publishing.

Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2016).  The PLC Book.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.

Dana, N. F., Burns, J. B., & Wolkenhauer, R. (2013).  Inquiring into the common core.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.

Dana, N. F. (2013).  Digging deeper into action research:  A teacher inquirer’s field guide. Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.

Dana, N. F., Thomas, C., & Boynton, S.  (2011).  Inquiry:  A districtwide approach to staff and student learning.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.

Yendol-Hoppey, D., & Dana, N. F. (2010).  Powerful professional development:  Building expertise within the four walls of your school.  Thousand Oaks, California:  Corwin Press.

Dana, N. F. (2009).  Leading with passion and knowledge:  The principal as action researcher. Thousand Oaks, California:  Corwin Press.

Meyers, E., Paul, P. A., Kirkland, D. E., & Dana, N. F.  (2009). The power of teacher networks. Thousand Oaks, California:  Corwin Press.

Yendol-Hoppey, D., & Dana, N. F.  (2007).  The reflective educator’s guide to mentoring:  Strengthening practice through knowledge, story, and metaphor.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.


Dana, N. F., Rigney, J., Ma, V.W., & Vescio, V. (2021).  Project-based learning and doctoral student research skill development:  A case study.  Impacting Education:  Journal on Transforming Professional Practice.  

Aydarova, E., Rigney, J., & Dana, N. F. (2021).  ‘Small but mighty’: A case study of teacher educators disrupting neoliberal reforms of teacher education and reclaiming a voice in policy conversations.  Journal of Education for Teaching.

Kennedy, B., & Dana, N. F. (2021).  Taking inquiry into higher education:  A dialogue in four parts.  College Teaching.

Rigney, J., Dana, N. F., & Vanderhauwaert, R.  (2020).  Cross-country collaboration in pursuit of powerful teacher professional learning: Lessons from the European Union. Submitted to Teaching and Teacher Education. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2020.103212

Lewis, K., Bondy, E., Dana, N. F., Vescio, V., & Ma, V. W.  (2020).  The development and enactment of practitioner scholarship among graduates from one online Ed.D. program.  Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44(5), 653-669.

Rigney, J., Ferland, T., & Dana, N. F.  (2019).  Understanding teacher reflectivity in contemporary times:  A (Re)Review of the literature, 15(4), 305-326. The New Educator.

Ma, V. W., Dana. N. F., Adams, A., & Kennedy, B.  (2018).  Understanding the problem of practice:  An analysis of professional practice EdD dissertations.  Impacting Education:  Jounral on Transforming Professional Practice, 3, 13-22.

Griffin, C. C., Dana, N. F., Pape, S. J., Algina, J., Bae, J., Prosser, S. K., & League, M.  (2018).  Prime online:  Exploring teacher professional development for creating inclusive elementary mathematics classrooms.  Teaching Education and Special Education, 41(2) 121-139.

Dana, N. F. (2017).  Practitioner inquiry and PDS work:  A reflection on 25 years of purpose, problems, and potential.  School-University Partnerships, 10(4), 5-12.

Dana, N. F., Pape, S. J., Griffin, C.C., & Prosser, S. K. (2016). Incorporating practitioner inquiry into an online professional development program:  The Prime Online experience.  Professional Development in Education, DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2016.1152592.

Dana, N. F., Marrs-Morford, L., & Roberts, S. (2015).  The promise of action research:  Lessons learned from the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute.  LEARNing Landscapes, 9(1), 59-79.

Jacobs, J., Yendol-Hoppey, D., & Dana, N. F. (2015).  Preparing the next generation of teacher educators: The role of practitioner research.  Action in Teacher Education, 37(4), 373-396.

Dana, N. F. (2015).  Understanding inquiry as stance:  Illustration and analysis of one teacher researcher’s work.  LEARNing Landscapes, 8(2), 161-172.

Dana, N.F., Dawson, K., Wolkenhauer, R., & Krell, D. (2013). Pushing the envelope on what is known about teacher professional development: The virtual school teacher experience. Professional Development in Education, DOI:10.1080/19415257.2012.762417.

Dawson K., Dana, N.F., Wolkenhauer, R. & Krell, D. (2013). Identifying the priorities and practices of virtual school educators using action research. American Journal of Distance Education, 27(1), 29-39.

Dana, N. F., Krell, D., & Wolkenhauer, R.  (2012).  Taking action research in teacher education online:  Exploring the Possibilities. In R. Hartshorne, T. Heafner, & T. Petty (Eds). Teacher education programs and online learning tools:  Innovations in teacher preparation.  IGA Global.

Wolkenhauer, R., Boynton, S., & Dana, N. F. (2011).  The power of practitioner research and development of an inquiry stance in teacher education programs.  Teacher Education and Practice, 24(4), 388-404.

Ross, D., Adams, A., Bondy, E., Dana, N. F., Dodman, S., & Swain, C.  (2011).  Impact of a cohort-based, job-embedded, blended teacher leadership program.  Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 1213-1222.

Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2010). The role of inquiry-oriented learning communities and protocols in sustaining and enhancing teacher reflectivity throughout the professional lifetime.  In E. G. Pultorak (Ed.) The Purposes, Practices, and Professionalism of Teacher Reflectivity:  Insights for 21stCentury Teachers and Students.  Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield, 277- 300.

Dana, N. F., Tricarico, K., & Quinn, D. (2010). The administrator as action researcher:  A case study of five principals and their engagement in systematic, intentional study of their own practice.  Journal of School Leadership, 19(3), 232-265.

Dawson, K. & Dana, N. F. (2007).  When curriculum-based, technology enhanced field experiences and teacher inquiry coalesce:  An opportunity for conceptual change?  British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(4), 656-667.

Dana, N. F., Yendol-Hoppey, D., & Snow-Gerono, J. L.  (2006).  Deconstructing inquiry in the professional development school:  Exploring the domains and contents of teachers’ questions.  Action in Teacher Education, 27(4), 59-71.