Professor Donald Gray

Professor Donald Gray
Professor Donald Gray
Professor Donald Gray

B.Sc., Dip.OEd., M.Ed., Ph.D.

Personal Chair

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 274693
Office Address

School of Education, MacRobert Building University of Aberdeen Kings College Aberdeen, AB24 5UA

School of Education


Donald Gray joined the School of Education in 2005.  He has a background in science education, curriculum development and educational research.  He worked on the earlier Scottish Assessment of Achievement Programme (Science) and was the TIMSS quality control monitor for Scotland. He has worked for the Scottish Council for Research in Education, been involved in an international study of Civic Education based in Humboldt University Berlin and was Faculty Research Co-ordinator in Strathclyde University Faculty of Education prior to joining the University of Aberdeen.  He has a particular interest in complexity, science and sustainability, Goethean science and environmental education, as well as general research related to teacher education. He has a long standing interest in outdoor learning and the theoretical perspectives underpinning the value of outdoor, natural environmental experiential education with a particular reference to embodied cognition and enactivism. Currently he is involved in a range of projects relating to food growing and food activism in educational contexts.



  • PhD Science Education 
    2002 - University of Strathclyde 
  • M.Ed Educational Research 
    1993 - University of Stirling 
  • Dip.O.Ed. Outdoor Education 
    1985 - Moray House College of Education 
  • B.Sc. Zoology 
    1975 - University of Aberdeen 

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships


External Memberships

External Examiner for UCL Institute of Education MA in Science Education 2015-2018

External Examiner for University of Edinburgh, MSc Outdoor Education and MSc Outdoor Environmental & Sustainability Education. 2014-2018

External examiner for Strathclyde University B.Ed major projects. 2008-2013

Member of Natural England's Strategic Research Group for Learning in Natural Environments.

Member of Scottish Governments Academic Reference Group for Education Research

Latest Publications

View My Publications


Research Overview

As well as general research related to teacher education, I am particularly interested in science society and sustainability issues and how these are addressed in educational contexts. In addition I am interested in outdoor learning and place-based education and theoretical perspectives underpinning the value of outdoor, natural environmental experiential education with particular reference to embodied cognition. I also have an interest in creativity and arts-based approaches to learning, teaching and research.

PhD Student supervisions:


  1. Jennifer Obbard. From Dualism to Incorporation: An Enactive Approach to Exploring the Relational Qualities and Processes of Human-Nature Connections and their Role in Sense Making. Commenced February 2014.
  2. Ainsley Carnarvon. Investigating teachers’ beliefs in Trinidad and Tobago: A Case of Inquiry-Based Learning adoption in the Primary Science classroom. Commenced October 2018. Second supervisor.



  1. Edward Sosu.  Unearthing the Complexities in Environmental Education Teaching Behaviour: A Pragmatic and Systemic Approach – Commenced January 2005  Graduated PhD July 2008
  2. Shagufta Shafqat Chandi. Systems thinking as a tool for teaching and learning biological complexity - commenced October 2004 – Graduated PhD July 2008
  3. David McMurtry. Organisational Learning in Schools. 01/10/2005- 01/12/2010. Graduated PhD July 2011
  4. Christine Fraser. Impact of teachers' professional learning in science on pupils' classroom experiences of science investigation.  01/04/2005- 04/06/10. Graduated PhD November 2010
  5. Rachel Shanks.  The Induction and Continuing Professional Development of New Teachers in Scotland, commenced 01/12/2007 Graduated PhD July 2012
  6. Semiyu Aderibigbe.  Role of mentoring in student/beginner teacher support. Commenced 01/02/2009 Graduated PhD July 2012.
  7. Fayadh Alanazi. Exploring children's conceptual understanding of astronomy:  A social learning perspective. Commenced full-time 1/10/2010.  Graduated June 2015.
  8. Kirsten Darling.Learning as participation: exploring relationships within an emergent paradigm. Commenced part-time 01/10/2008 - Graduated November 2015.
  9. Kevin Stelfox. Social Capital, social networks and young people in education. Second supervisor. Graduate November 2016.
  10. Samuel Oppong Frimpong. An investigation into the quality of early childhood care and education provision in Ghana. Commenced full-time February 2012. Graduate July 2017.
  11. Daniel Wodah. Conceptual Tools in Science Education to Promote Critical Interogation of Controversial Socio-Scientific Issues. Commenced February 2015. Graduated July 2020
  12. Aristea Kyriakou. The Schoolyard Pyramid: From an Empty Space to an Educational Place. Commenced October 2015. Graduated July 2020
  13. Cathy Francis. Investigating the reconnection of children with nature. Commenced October 2014. Successfully completed October 2022
  14. Sarah Pohlschneider. Mapping and Repositioning Forestry Skills for the 21st Century. Joint University of Highlands and Islands/Aberdeen supervised. Forestry Commission Scotland and  Scottish Forestry Trust fully funded scholarship. Commenced 1st November 2014, Successfully completed January 2022 UHI, Inverness.

Current Research

The Impact of Outdoor Learning and Nature Experiences on children and young people.

Creativity in Science Education.


Argentina, Universidad de San Andres Links exploring the ATLAC initiative and possible research developments including arts based approaches to science education and socio-scientific issues.

Italy.  Member of the Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Sustainability ( with collaborative contacts with the Universities of Turin and Val d’ Aosta. Joint presentations and funding applications in relation to socio-scientific issues, sustainability and the arts.

Portugal, University Lisbon. Development of funding applications for socio-scientific issues, sustainability and the arts.

Finland, University of Lapland. Special interest group on arts, education and sustainability of the University of the Arctic.

Funding and Grants

British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Funding. “Creativity in education and teacher education: perspectives and challenges in arts and science educational collaborations”. With the University of San Andres, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Oct.2013-Sept 2016. £26,145.

Kick Start award. Developing and piloting an internship model for outdoor learning, with Creative STAR Learning Company. 2013. £5000

CPD Pump Priming Fund. University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen/Argentina ATLAC developments.  Nov 2011-April 2012, £3000.

Using extreme sports as an approach to Curriculum for Excellence. Research and development pilot with Transition Extreme. Sporting Chance Star Award. Nov.2011-Mar. 2012,    £5000

Arts as a Tool for Learning Across the Curriculum. Scottish Arts Council. May 2008-October 2009,  £28,500

University of Strathclyde Research and Development grant: A Comparative Collaborative Study on Pedagogical Approaches to Controversial Issues in Science Education, January-November 2003            £2892

Evidence-based Practice in the Secondary Science Department, March-September 2001, Scottish Executive; £1950

Biotechnology Summer School Evaluation June 2001-June 2003, SAPS/Wellcome Trust; £20,000




Teaching Responsibilities


Course Co-ordinator for:

SX1011/1511 Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunites.

ED1080  Body, Mind and Nature: Learning Outdoors (Foundations) (From 2011-12)

ED1580  Body, Mind and Nature: Learning Outdoors (Extended) (From 2011-12)



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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Conferences

Contributions to Journals

Working Papers