Science educator Greg Thomas celebrated as Larry Beauchamp Senior Researcher

The expert in metacognition is also highly skilled at articulating its relevance to teachers

Helen Metella - 29 April 2024

Greg Thomas being presented with the Larry Beauchamp Senior Researcher AwardAs the 2024 recipient of the Larry Beauchamp Senior Researcher Award, Professor Greg Thomas ably exceeds the award’s criteria for producing outstanding research and contributions in his field by also being a clear communicator.

Thomas is a science educator who focuses primarily on metacognition. With his typically jargon- free approach, he defines metacognition straightforwardly: it’s an individual’s knowledge, control and awareness of the cognitive and strategic processes that they use to think and learn.

Using science teaching as his vehicle, he equips teachers to improve the way students learn through, among other approaches, honing teachers’ understanding of how they themselves synthesize knowledge and understanding.

In addition to attracting more than $1.2 million in research funding for the development and understanding of metacognition and teacher professional development, Thomas has provided teachers with practical methods to enhance student learning, using plain language and relatable direction. Tools he’s created for making metacognition concepts easily digestible include a website and a podcast, The Metacognition Channel.

“My work as a teacher and researcher since 1988 has always been focused on improving science teaching and learning,” says Thomas.

“I place high value on developing a scientifically literate community that can make decisions, using higher-order thinking, that are informed by deep understanding of science concepts and their inter-relatedness and complexity. Developing learners who are knowledgeable of science and also cognizant of the ways to learn and apply it is central to my educational philosophy and a foundational pillar upon which my research and teaching rests.”

Thomas joined the U of A in 2007 and served as chair of the Department of Secondary Education in the 2018-19 and 2021-22 academic years.

He began his career as a high school chemistry and biology teacher in Australia, working in secondary education there for nine years and winning a National Excellence in Teaching Award. He earned his master’s in 1992 at Monash University in Melbourne and his PhD in 1999 at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. He went on to be the head of the departments of science, and of mathematics, science, social science and technology at the Hong Kong Institute of Education before moving to the U of A.

He is a foundation member of the editorial board of Metacognition and Learning and is active as a reviewer for numerous other journals including the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. He has served as a visiting professor at universities in Denmark, Thailand, the Peoples’ Republic of China, Hong Kong, Canada and South Africa.