Professor Profiles


Gregory Thomas, BEd., MEdSt., PhD

Professor, Co-Director of the Centre for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education


Secondary Education

About Me

Dr. Gregory P. Thomas is one of two faculty members in the Department of Secondary Education with a focus on science education.  He was a high school chemistry and biology teacher in Australia from 1988 - 1997, and won a National Excellence in Teaching Award in 1996. He completed a Bachelor of Education degree at James Cook University in 1987. 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 Editor of the Alberta Journal of Educational Research (, 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 Thailand, the Peoples’ Republic of China, Hong Kong, Canada, and South Africa.


Research Interests

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

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).


Courses Taught

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

EDES 509/595: Teaching Science in Elementary and Secondary Schools

EDSE 620 : Advanced Research Seminar in Secondary Education II