Professor Gregory P. Thomas is one of three faculty members in the Department of Secondary Education with a focus on science education. He completed a Bachelor of Education degree at James Cook University in 1987, and was a high school chemistry and biology teacher in Australia from 1988 - 1997. In 1996 he won a National Excellence in Teaching Award. His Masters’ study was completed in 1992 under the supervision of Professor Richard T. White at Monash University in Melbourne, and his PhD study was completed in 1999 under the supervision of Professor Cam McRobbie at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. He was previously the Head of the Department of Mathematics, Science, Social Science and Technology at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, spending eight years in Hong Kong before moving to work at the University of Alberta in 2007. He is the North American regional editor for Research in Science Education, a foundation member of the editorial board of Metacognition and Learning, and is active as a reviewer for numerous other journals. He has served as a visiting Professor at universities in Denmark, Thailand, the Peoples’ Republic of China, Hong Kong, Canada, and South Africa.
Dr. Thomas’ research and scholarship is concerned predominantly with the application of learning theories to science education teaching and learning. In particular he focuses on metacognition as it relates to science teaching and learning pedagogies and processes. Dr. Thomas’ work attends to the uses of metaphor and representations as tools for developing teachers’ and students’ understanding and language of thinking and learning and their metacognition. Most recently, Dr. Thomas has begun to consider the nature of teacher metacognition and how it might be conceptualized and explored. The aforementioned research foci are complemented by Dr. Thomas’ research in the field of learning environments, both formal and informal, and in particular in the conceptualizing and evaluating of learning environments from multiple psychosocial perspectives. He has completed a number of funded studies involving the conceptualization, evaluation and measurement of learning environments. From these studies and those related to metacognition, a multi-faceted perspective on the intricate and integrated nature of metacognitive learning environments has emerged, as has the importance of further investigation into such environments and their characteristics. He is continually seeking ways to help classroom teachers develop their students’ metacognition through the application of emerging, empirically supported theory regarding metacognition. Inquiries from potential graduate students interested in pursuing research in science education and other areas related to Dr. Thomas’ research interests are most welcome.
Recent Grants and Awards
Pre-Service Science Teachers’ Personal Metacognitive Knowledge. Centre for Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, The University of Alberta. Principal Investigator. (2017) (CAN$4,767)
2014-2016 Improving students thinking skills and conducting research about their thinking to enhance their achievement including all of the academic sections of Khon Kaen Secondary Education. (Co-leader, with Dr. Warawun Chantharanuwong, Leader, and others). Funded by Khon Kaen Secondary Education Authority, Thailand. (2014-2016). ($45,000).
2011-2014 Transforming the Undergraduate Physics Laboratory: A Guided Inquiry Approach. (CAN$137, 579). Co-Investigator: with A. Meldrum (P-I) and J. Beamish (Co-I). Funded by the University of Alberta: Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund.
2011-2012 Science teacher metacognition: Initial investigations. (CAN$5645). Funded by the Support for the Advancement of Scholarship Fund, Faculty of Education, The University of Alberta.
2010 American Educational Research Association (AERA), Special Interest Group on the Study of Learning Environments: Outstanding Paper Award: Thomas, G. P., & Anderson, D. “Changing the Metacognitive Orientation of a Classroom Environment to Enhance Students' Metacognition Regarding Chemistry Learning.”
2008-2012 Using metaphor to develop metacognition in relation to scientific inquiry in high school science laboratories. (CAN$101,000.) Principal Investigator (Co-I: Dr. David Anderson, UBC). Funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Canada).
EDSE 452/456/460: Curriculum and Teaching in Secondary General, Biological, and Physical Sciences
EDSE 501: Metacognition Across the Curriculum
EDSE 501: Teaching Students to Learn
EDSE 620 : Advanced Research Seminar in Secondary Education II
Research - Selected Publications
Chapters in Books
Couteret, L., King, C., & Thomas, G. P. (2018). Bridging the gap between theory and practice in science education: Really? When? How? Why? In D. C. Young, David C. Young, W. L. Kraglund-Gauthier and T. G. Ryan (Eds.), Readiness for the Field: Perspectives from within the Triangle of Teacher Education, (pp. 35-55). Champaign, IL: Common Ground.
Thomas, G. P. (2017). What is and What Will be Science Learning (Theory) in Science Education Reform and Practice? Stories and Reflections. In J. Jagodzinski (Ed.), The precarious future of education: Risk and uncertainty in ecology, curriculum, learning and technology (pp. 139-158). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Thomas G. P. (2015). Metacognition and Science Learning. In R. Gunstone (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Science Education (pp. 632–634). Springer Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London. DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-2150-0_343
Thomas, G. P. (2012). Metacognition in Science Education: Past, present and future considerations. In B. J. Fraser, K. G. Tobin, and C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second International Handbook of Science Education (pp. 131-144). Dordrecht: Springer.
Thomas, G. P. (2012). The Metacognitive Science Teacher: A statement for enhanced teacher cognition and pedagogy. In F. Ornek and I. Saleh (Eds.), Contemporary Science Teaching Approaches: Promoting Conceptual Understanding in Science (pp. 29-53). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Thomas, G. P. (2009). Metacognition or not: Confronting hegemonies. In I. M. Saleh and M. S. Khine (Eds.), Fostering Scientific Habits of Mind: Pedagogical Knowledge and Best Practices in Science Education (pp. 83-106). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Wei, B., & Thomas, G. P. (2007). The Post-Mao Junior Secondary School Chemistry Curriculum in the People’s Republic of China: A Case Study in the Internationalization of Science Education. In Atweh, W., et al. (Eds.). Internationalisation and Globalisation in Mathematics and Science Education, (pp. 487-507). London: Springer.
Thomas, G. P. (2006). Metaphor, Students’ Conceptions of Learning and Teaching, and Metacognition. In P. Aubusson, A. Harrison and S. M. Ritchie, (Eds.), Metaphor and Analogy in Science Education, (pp. 105-117). Dordrecht: Springer.
Thomas, G. P. (2002). The social mediation of metacognition. In D. McInerny, & S. Van Etten (Eds.), Sociocultural Influences on Motivation and Learning: Vol. 2. Research on Sociocultural Influences on Motivation and Learning (pp. 225-247). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Articles in Refereed Journals
Thomas, G. P., & Meldrum, A. (2018). Students’ perceptions of changes in the learning environments of undergraduate physics laboratories. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 15(2), 165-180.
Thomas, G. P. (2017). "Triangulation:" An Expression for stimulating metacognitive reflection regarding the use of 'triplet' representations for chemistry learning. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 18, 533-548.
Zhao, Z., & Thomas, G. P. (2016). Mainland Chinese students' conceptions of learning science: A Phenomenographic Study in Hebei and Shandong Provinces. International Journal of Educational Research, 75, 76-87.
Anderson, D., & Thomas, G. P. (2014). ‘Prospecting for Metacognition’ in a science museum – A metaphor reflecting hermeneutic inquiry and questioning into metacognition in a new context. Issues in Educational Research, 24(1), 1-20.
Thomas, G. P., & Anderson, D. (2014). Changing the Metacognitive Orientation of a Classroom Environment to Enhance Students' Metacognition Regarding Chemistry Learning. Learning Environments Research, 17(1), 139-155.
Thomas, G. P., Meldrum, A., & Beamish, J. (2013). Conceptualization, development and validation of an instrument for investigating elements of undergraduate physics laboratory learning environments: The UPLLES (Undergraduate Physics Laboratory Learning Environment Survey). European Journal of Physics Education, 4(4), 28-40.
Thomas, G. P. (2013). The interview as a metacognitive experience for students: Implications for practice in research and teaching. Alberta Science Education Journal 43(1), 4-11.
Thomas, G. P. (2013). Changing the metacognitive orientation of a classroom learning environment to stimulate metacognitive reflection regarding the nature of physics learning. International Journal of Science Education, 35(7), 1183-1207.
Thomas, G. P., & Anderson, D. (2013). Parents’ Metacognitive Knowledge: Influences on Parent–Child Interactions in a Science Museum Setting. Research in Science Education, 43(3), 1245-1265. doi: 10.1007/s11165-012-9308-z
Thomas, G. P., & McRobbie, C. J. (2013). Eliciting Metacognitive Experiences and Reflection in a Year 11 Chemistry Classroom: An Activity Theory Perspective. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(3), 300-313. doi: 10.1007/s10956-012-9394-8
Thomas, G. P. (2010). Contemplating the meaning of 'good' educational research: A challenge for education researchers and editorial boards. International Journal of Education, 33(2),1-2.
Thomas, G. P., & Skamp, K. (2009). Cam McRobbie: A man for all occasions. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4(2), 335-344.
Anderson, D., Thomas, G. P., & Nashon, S. (2009). Social barriers to meaningful engagement in biology field trip group work. Science Education, 93(3), 511-534.
Anderson, D., Nashon, S., & Thomas, G. P. (2009). Evolution of research methods for probing and understanding metacognition. Research in Science Education, 39(2), 181-195.
Thomas, G. P., Anderson, D., & Nashon, S. (2008). Development of an instrument designed to investigate elements of students’ metacognition, self-efficacy and learning processes: The SEMLI-S. International Journal of Science Education 30(13), 1701-1724.
Wei, B., & Thomas, G. P. (2006). An examination of the change of the JSSCC of the P.R. China from 1978 to 2001: In the view of scientific literacy. Research in Science Education, 36(4) 403-418.
Thomas, G. P. (2006). An investigation of the metacognitive orientation of Confucian-heritage culture and non-Confucian heritage culture science classroom learning environments in Hong Kong. Research in Science Education, 36(1-2), 85-109.
Thomas, G. P., & Au, D. K-M. (2005). Changing the learning environment to enhance students’ metacognition in Hong Kong primary school classrooms. Learning Environments Research, 8(3), 221-243.
Wei, B., & Thomas, G. P. (2005). Rationale and approaches for embedding scientific literacy into the new junior secondary school chemistry curriculum in the P. R. China. International Journal of Science Education, 27(12), 1477-1493.
Wei, B., & Thomas, G. P. (2005). Explanations for the transition of the junior secondary school chemistry curriculum in the P. R. China during the period from 1978 to 2001. Science Education, 89(3), 451-469.
Thomas, G. P. (2004). Dimensionality and construct validity of an Instrument Designed to Measure the Metacognitive Orientation of Science Classroom Learning Environments. Journal of Applied Measurement, 5(4), 367-384.
Thomas, G. P. (2003). Conceptualisation, development and validation of an instrument for evaluating the metacognitive orientation of science classroom learning environments: The Metacognitive Orientation Learning Environment Scale - Science (MOLES-S). Learning Environments Research, 6(2), 175-197.
Thomas, G. P., & McRobbie, C. J. (2002). Investigating chemistry students’ learning about the relationship between the temperature and the pressure of a gas using a microcomputer-based laboratory (MBL): A word of caution. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 2(3), 321-338.
Thomas, G. P., & McRobbie, C. J. (2002). Collaborating to enhance student reasoning: Frances’ account of her reflections while teaching chemical equilibrium. International Journal of Science Education, 24(4), 405-423.
Thomas, G. P., & McRobbie, C. J. (2001). Using a metaphor for learning to improve students’ metacognition in the chemistry classroom. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(2), 222-259.
Thomas, G. P. (2001). Toward effective computer use in high school science education: Where to from here? Education and Information Technologies, 6(1), 29-41.
McRobbie, C. J., & Thomas, G. P. (2000). Changing the learning environment to enhance explaining and understanding in a Year 12 chemistry classroom. Learning Environments Research, 3(3), 209-227.
McRobbie, C. J., & Thomas, G. P. (2000). Epistemological and contextual issues in the use of microcomputer-based laboratories in a Year 11 Chemistry classroom. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 19(2), 137-160.
Thomas, G. P. (1999). Student restraints to reform: Conceptual change issues in enhancing students’ learning processes. Research in Science Education, 29(1), 89-109.
Special Editions of Refereed Journals
Thomas, G. P. (Ed.). (2006). Metacognition and science education (Special Issue). Research in Science Education, 36(1-2).