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Philip Sadler



  • Higher Ed: Science, Higher Ed: Education, Higher Ed: Administrator, Researcher, Evaluator 


Philip M. Sadler earned a B.S. in Physics from MIT in 1973 and taught middle school science and mathematics for several years before earning a doctorate in education in 1992. Dr. Sadler has taught Harvard's courses for new science teachers and for the next generation of professors, doctoral students in science. As F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in Astronomy, he carries on Harvard's oldest undergraduate course in science, Celestial Navigation. He directs one of the largest research groups in science education in the U.S., based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In 1999, Dr. Sadler won the Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award for work on assessing student understanding in science deemed "the most significant contribution to science education research" in the preceding year. His research interests include assessment of students' scientific misconceptions and how they change as a result of instruction, the development of computer technologies that allow youngsters to engage in research, and models for enhancement of the skills of experienced teachers. He was the executive producer of A Private Universe, an award-winning video on student conceptions in science. He won the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Brennan Prize for contributions to astronomy teaching in 2002. The American Astronomical Society awarded him their Education Prize for 2010. He is the inventor of the Starlab Portable Planetarium and many other devices used for the teaching of astronomy, worldwide. Materials and curricula developed by Dr. Sadler are used by an estimated twelve million students every year. 


professional development, science education, astronomy, planetarium education, assessment, remote telescopes, optics 


Sadler, P.M. & Good, E. (2006) Substituting Self- and Peer-Grading for Teacher-Grading of Tests and its Impact on Student Learning. Educational Assessment 11(1), 1-31.

Tai, R. H., Sadler, P.M., & Mintzes, J. J. (2006). Factors influencing college science success. Journal of College Science Teaching. 35(8), 56 - 60.

Sadler, P.M. & Tai, R. H. (2007). Weighting for recognition: Accounting for Advanced Placement and honors courses when calculating high school grade point average. National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin. 91(1), 5-31.

Tai, R. H. & Sadler, P.M. (2007). High school chemistry instructional practices and their association with college chemistry grades. Journal of Chemical Education.

Schwartz, M. S. & Sadler, P.M. (2007) Empowerment in Science Curriculum Development: A microdevelopmental approach. International Journal of Science Education. 29(18), 987-1017.

Sadler, P.M. & Tai, R. H. (2007) The Two High-School Pillars Supporting College Science. Science. 317(5837) 457-458.

Sadler, P.M. & Tai, R. H. (2007). Advanced Placement exam scores as a predictor of performance in introductory college biology, chemistry, and physics courses. Science Educator, 16(1). 1-19.

Ward, R. B., Sadler, P.M., & Shapiro, I.I. (2007). Learning Science Through Astronomy Activities: A Comparison Between Constructivist and Traditional Approaches in Grades 3-6. Astronomy Education Review, 6(2), 1-19.

Tai, R. H., Sadler, P.M. & Maltese, A. V. (2007). A study of the association of autonomy and achievement on performance. Science Educator, 16(1), 22-28.

Schwartz, M., Hazari, Z. & Sadler, P.M. (2008). Divergent views: Teacher and Professor Perceptions about Pre-College Factors that Influence College Science Success. Science Educator. 17(1), 18-35.

Schwartz, M., Sadler, P.M., Sonnert, G., & Tai, R.H. (2009) Depth Versus Breadth: How Content Coverage in High School Science Relates to Later Success in College Science Coursework. Science Education, 93(4), 798-826.

Plotkin, G, Hazari, Z., & Sadler, P.M., (2009) Unraveling Bias from Student Evaluations of their Science Teachers, Science Education, 93(4), 827-845.

Sadler, P. Coyle, H., Miller, J. Cook-Smith, N., Dussault, M. & Gould, R (in press) The Astronomy and Space Science Concept Inventory: Development and Validation of an Assessment Instrument Aligned with the National Standards, Astronomy Education Review.