Patricia L. McMahon, PhD, is a professor of Education in the Education and Liberal Studies Department at Carlow University. She began her career in education as a high school English teacher. Throughout her years in higher education, she has co-developed several graduate programs in Education and has created new graduate and undergraduate courses. Dr. McMahon’s areas of expertise include narrative inquiry, curriculum, qualitative dissertation research, composition, and arts-based educational research. Her work on arts-based educational research has been published nationally and internationally. Currently, her research interests also include a focus on education leaders as systems thinkers, learner-centered curriculum design, and teachers’ stories—the art of Scholar-Practitioner inquiry. She is one of the founders and co-hosts of the Speaking of Education podcast, which showcases current issues, multiple perspectives, and programmatic innovations in education. Dr. McMahon’s enduring interests are interdisciplinary collaboration, drawing, and the arts. She is an animal lover and a golf enthusiast. She and her husband live in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh.


BS, Secondary English Education-emphasis in Theater, Pennsylvania State University

MA, English Literature, University of Pittsburgh

PhD, Education, Curriculum and Supervision, University of Pittsburgh

Selected Publications

  • Piantanida, M., Llewellyn, M., & McMahon, P. L. (2021). From moment to meaning: The art of scholar-practitioner inquiry. Pittsburgh, PA: Learning Moments Press.
  • Piantanida, M., McMahon, P.L., & Llewellyn, M. (2019). On being a scholar-practitioner: Practical wisdom in action. Pittsburgh, PA: Learning Moments Press.
  • McMahon, P. (September, 2013). Guest Post: Dr. Patricia McMahon reflects on a visit by Dr. Diane Ravitch. Remake Learning. Retrieved from public-education/.
  • McMahon, P. (2006). Narrative yearnings: Reflecting in pedagogical time through the art of fictive story. Invited chapter in N.B. Garman & M. Piantanida (Eds.), The authority to imagine: The struggle toward representation in dissertation writing. Peter Lang Publications.
  • Piantanida, M., McMahon, P.L., & Garman, N.B. (2003). Sculpting the contours of arts-based educational research within a discourse community. Qualitative Inquiry, 9(2), 182-191.
  • McMahon, P. (2000). From angst to story to research text: The role of arts-based educational research in teacher inquiry. The Journal of Curriculum Theorizing. 16(1), 125-145.
  • Piantanida, M., Garman, N., & McMahon, P. (2000). Crafting an arts-based educational research thesis: Issues of tradition and solipsism. In P. Willis, R. Smith, & E. Collins, (Eds.), Being, seeking, telling: Expressive approaches to qualitative adult education research. University of South Australia: Post Pressed. 
  • McMahon, P. (1999). Becoming through writing. In M. Piantanida and N. Garman, The qualitative dissertation: A guide for students and faculty, 220-223. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press, Inc. 

Selected Presentations

  • McMahon, P. L. and Piantanida, M. (October, 2023). Studying One’s Practice: Self as Instrument of Inquiry. Research Methods Forum: Scholarly Practitioner. Duquesne University, Office of Civic Engagement and External Relations.
  • McMahon, P. L. (2023). Envisioning Currere at the Heart of a Doctoral Program. The Currere Exchange, Miami University: Oxford, Ohio.
  • McMahon, P. L. and Piantanida, M. (2022). Keynote Speakers: The Legitimacy of Practice-Embedded Dissertations. Carnegie Project on Education Doctorate (CPED) Convening. Pittsburgh, PA, October 13.
  • Snyder-Duch, J., Bowman-McElhone, A., and McMahon, P. L. (2021). Creative Practice, Transformative Justice, and the Future of Higher Learning. Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) Conference. University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
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