University of Georgia

First Visit: Doctoral studies

When I arrived at the University of Georgia (UGA) in 1978 Bill Capie supervised my research assistantship, which involved research on the development and valiadation of the Teacher Performance Assessment Instruments. A feature of this work was that it allowed me to apply my growing knowledge of statistics and measurement, visit other universities and schools, and train people how to use the teacher assessment tools dependably. The effort in Georgia spread to other states and I was involved in development in South Carolina, Texas and Florida.

My dissertation research built on research I had done in Western Australia on a teaching intervention for the purpose of increasing science achievement of middle school youth. As well as developing a number of classroom observation protocols I also developed a Test of Logical Thinking (TOLT) and collaborated with Bill to validate alternative forms. He predicted this would be our most cited work and to some extent his prediction was accurate. The TOLT is still used today and has been translated into many languages. The idea of two stage test items, which was first suggested by Bill on a lengthy dirve through southern Georgia, was subsequently used successfully by David Treagust in his conceptual change research.

During my initial stay at the university of Georgia I published 13 publications (1980-84) from the research in which I was involved.

Second visit: Fulbright Award

In 1985 I was recipient of a Fulbright award and chose to return to UGA. In hindsight this was probably not a good idea because my research interests had moved on and the anticipated collaoration with Bill never occurred. Even so, we did coauthor a published paper and received an award for an earlier version of that paper.

Outstanding paper award, 1986. Awarded by the American Association for the Education of Teachers of Science, San Francisco, 1985. The award was for a synthesis of research findings with implications for teaching and learning science. Title: Tobin, K.G., Capie, W., & Bettencourt, A. Active teaching for higher cognitive learning in science.

Tobin, K., Capie, W., & Bettencourt, A. (1988). Active teaching for higher cognitive learning in science. International Journal of Science Education, 10(1), 17-27.

I developed a large research group of doctoral students and engaged in two interesting studies. The idea to create the research group was Russell Yeany’s who assured me that it was fine to just advertise — “it is not necessary to pay them,” he argued. “If they want to do it, who is to stop them.” Many of thse involved are still close colleagues and collaborators. Among those involved as doctoral students were: Antonio Bettencourt (Portugal, deceased), Mariona Espinet (Spain), Chao-Ti Hsiung & Hsiao-Lin Tuan (Taiwan), Linda Cronin Jones (University of Florida), Zurida Ismail (Malaysia), Elisabeth Swanson (Montana State University), and Nancy Davis (Florida State University).

The two main studies in which I was involved while back at UGA was a study in which we used qualitative and quantitative resources as a basis of comparison for the teaching and learning of one teacher. To some degree the competition between the qual team and the quan team resulted in a spirited symposium at a national meeting, but it fizzled as far as publications were concerned. The big issue involved the teacher’s response to our paper, a heated attack on our perspective. The two published versions of this paper, one in Science Education and the other in the Australian Science Teachers Journal attracted a lot of attention.

Tobin, K. (1988). Good science teaching: In the eye of the beholder? Australian Science Teachers Journal, 33(4), 15-20.

Tobin, K., Espinet, M., Byrd, S.E., & Adams, D. (1988). Alternative perspectives of effective science teaching. Science Education, 72, 433-451.

Two other studies each produced one publiaction with Mariona Espinet. One involved peer coaching and my teaching of an advanced math class in a rural part of Georgia. The other was also rural and was in response to a superintendent wanting to fire a teacher and essentially trying to use the research as a reason for so doing. Of course we refused to allow research to be used for such purposes and adequately protected the teacher with the goal of providing him assistance to enhance his understanding of teaching and learning science and improve his teaching.

Tobin, K., & Espinet, M. (1990). Teachers helping teachers to improve high school mathematics teaching. School Science and Mathematics, 90, 232-244.

Tobin, K., & Espinet, M. (1989). Impediments to change: An application of peer coaching in high school science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 26, 105-120.