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Keith Taber


Professor of Science Education

Chair: Science, Technology & Mathematics Education Academic Group

E-mail Address


(+44) 01223 330569


BSc(Hons), PGCE, DPSE, MSc, PhD, MA(Cantab), CSci, CChem, FRSC, CPhys, FInstP, CSciTeach, FHEA, FRSA

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • Royal Society of Chemistry (Fellow)
  • Institute of Physics (Fellow)
  • Association for Science Education
  • British Science Association (a.k.a. British Association for the Advancement of Science)
  • British Educational Research Association
  • Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, manufacture and commerce (RSA, Fellow)
  • Higher Education Academy (Fellow)
  • Australasian Science Education Research Association
  • European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction
  • Association of Science Teacher Educators
  • International History and Philosophy of Science Teaching Group
  • National Association for Research in Science Teaching
  • International Association for Science and Religion in Schools 
  • International Society of the Learning Sciences

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After graduating in chemistry, Keith Taber trained as a graduate teacher of chemistry and physics, and taught sciences in comprehensive secondary schools in England. He moved into further education where he taught physics and chemistry to A level, science studies to adult students, and research methods on an undergraduate education programme. He acted as the mentor for trainee science teachers on placement at the college.

Whilst working as a teacher Keith earned a diploma in the Practice of Science Education, his masters degree (MSc) for research into girls' under-representation in physics and his doctorate for research into conceptual development in chemistry.

Keith joined the Faculty of Education in 1999. Initially he was involved primarily in initial teacher education, and for a number of years he was responsible for the Science/Physics route on the Secondary Partnership PGCE course which offers a Master's level qualification in education from the University of Cambridge as well as the government's national Qualified Teacher Status. (This route is now led by James de Winter.) Increasingly Dr Taber's teaching shifted to higher degrees work, and he has held management roles for the part-time PhD and the master's programme (MEd and MPhil courses). Dr Taber now teaches educational research methods across a range of faculty courses, whilst leading the Science, Technology and Mathematics Education academic group.

Dr. Taber was the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) Teacher Fellow for 2000-1, undertaking a project on Challenging Chemical Misconceptions. He was the CERG (Chemical Education Research Group) Lecturer for 2000. He wrote a column (Reflections on Teaching and Learning Physics) for the journal Physics Education over a period of 6 years. He led the Cambridge project on teaching about ideas and evidence in science for the National KS3 Strategy.

He is a Senior Member of Homerton College, Cambridge.

Keith Taber was the Royal Society of Chemistry's Education Award Winner 2014, an award made "For extensive research that has contributed significantly to the teaching and learning of chemistry concepts".

Academic Area/Links

  • Academic group - Science, Technology and Mathematics Education
  • Editor: Chemistry Education Research and Practice (a journal published by the RSC, available free on the internet at: [Links to guidance for authors here]
  • Editor-in-chief: RSC Advances in Chemistry Education book series
  • Book Reviews Editor: Studies in Science Education
  • Editorial Board member: Teacher Development
  • Editorial Board member: International Journal of Science Education
  • Editorial Board member: Foundations of Chemistry
  • Board of Reviewers: Science Education
  • Editorial Board member: Education in Chemistry
  • Editorial Board member: Centre for Education Policy Studies Journal
  • Editorial Board member: Chemistry: Bulgarian Journal of Science Education
  • Editorial Board member: International Review of Contemporary Learning Research
  • Editorial Board member: JOTCS-C (Journal of the Turkish Chemical Society, Section C: Chemical Education)
  • Editorial Associate (former Editorial Board member): School Science Review
  • Former Editorial Review Board member: Journal of Science Teacher Education
  • Former Editorial Review Board member: Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Former Book Reviews Editor: Teacher Development
  • Reviewer for a number of other journals
  • Past Chairman of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Chemical Education Research Group
  • Former Education Board member of the Institute of Physics
  • Peer Review College member: Economic and Social Research Council
  • Advisory Board member: International Association for Science and Religion in Schools
  • Working group member: CREST (CREativity in Science and Technology) Expansion Project (2009-2012)

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Research Topics

Dr. Taber's main research interests relate to science education (teaching and learning in science, and the science disciplines). He is especially interested in exploring conceptual learning, integration and progression in science education. Particular research themes have included

Current Research Projects

  • Conceptual development in science: ECLIPSE - Exploring Concept Learning, Integration & Progression in Science Education
  • Meeting the needs of the most able/gifted in science (collaborative project): APECS
  • Learning about Science and Religion: LASAR
  • Effecting Principled Improvement in STEM Education: Student Engagement and Learning in Early Secondary - School Physical Science and Mathematics - epiSTEMe
  • Young Children's Reasoning About Chemistry

Graduate Project Supervision

Dr Taber is available to supervise selected research projects in areas related to his own research and expertise. Suitable topics include:

  • Science education - teaching and learning in science, including teaching and learning about the nature of science
  • Chemistry education - teaching and learning in chemistry
  • Physics education - teaching and learning in physics
  • Conceptual development and progression in the sciences, especially in chemistry and physics
  • Learners' thinking in science topics, especially in chemistry and physics
  • Constructivist approaches to teaching in the sciences, including the use of diagnostic assessment
  • Giftedness and high ability in science subjects
  • Teaching gifted and talented learners in science subjects
  • Learners' ideas and understanding of the relationship between science and religion

Dr Taber supervises research students at both masters level (MPhil / MEd) and doctoral level (PhD / EdD). Examples of completed graduate projects are listed here.

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Course Involvement

  • MPhil in Educational Research - core team member
  • Research methods lecturer on MEd and MPhil in Education programme (and previously the EdD programme); Tripos Research & Investigation paper.
  • Research supervisor - MEd, MPhil, PhD, EdD (see an indicative list of student research projects supervised).
  • BA Tripos course on Creativity and Thinking
  • Contributions on the MPhil programme on the topics of knowledge and curriculum.

Educational Research Methods: Prof. Taber teaches a range of topics in educational research methods, and provides some introductory webpages to supplement his classes.


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Indicative Publications

Some of Dr Taber's more significant publications are below.

Click here to see a more comprehensive list of publications.

A record of citations to Keith Taber's publications may be found at his Google Scholar page.


Taber, K. S., & Sumida, M. (Eds.). (2016). International Perspectives on Science Education for the Gifted: Key issues and challenges. Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge.

Taber, K. S. (2014). Student Thinking and Learning in Science: Perspectives on the Nature and Development of Learners' Ideas. New York: Routledge. (Hear about this book) (Read about this book)

Taber, K. S. (2013) Modelling Learners and Learning in Science Education: Developing representations of concepts, conceptual structure and conceptual change to inform teaching and research. Dordrecht: Springer.

Taber, K. S. (2013). Classroom-based Research and Evidence-based Practice: an introduction (2nd ed.). London: Sage. (Hear about this book.)

Taber, K. S. (Ed.). (2012). Teaching Secondary Chemistry (2nd ed.). London: Hodder Education. (Sample pages) (Hear about this book.)

Taber, K. S. (2009) Progressing Science Education: Constructing the scientific research programme into the contingent nature of learning science. Dordrecht: Springer.

Taber, K. S. (2007) Classroom-based Research and Evidence-based Practice: A Guide for Teachers, SAGE Publications.

Taber, K. S. (Ed.) (2007) Science Education for Gifted Learners, London: Routledge.

Taber, K. S. (2007) Enriching School Science for the Gifted Learner, London: Gatsby Science Enhancement Programme.

Mclaughlin, C., Black Hawkins, K., Brindley. S., McIntyre, D. and Taber, K. S. (Eds.) (2006) Researching Schools: Stories from a schools-university partnership for educational research, Abingdon: Routledge.

Kind, V. and Taber, K. S. (2005) Science: Teaching School Subjects 11-19, London: Routledge.

Taber, K. S. (2002) Chemical misconceptions - prevention, diagnosis and cure: Volume 1: theoretical background, London: Royal Society of Chemistry; Volume 2: classroom resources, London: Royal Society of Chemistry.

Chapters in Books include

Taber, K. S. (2016). ‘Chemical reactions are like hell because…’: Asking gifted science learners to be creative in a curriculum context that encourages convergent thinking. In M. K. Demetrikopoulos & J. L. Pecore (Eds.), Interplay of Creativity and Giftedness in Science (pp. 321-349). Rotterdam: Sense.

Taber, K. S.
(2016). Constructivism in Education: Interpretations and Criticisms from Science Education. In E. Railean (Ed.), Handbook of Applied Learning Theory and Design in Modern Education (pp. 116-144)

Taber, K. S. (2015). Developing a research programme in science education for gifted learners. In N. L. Yates (Ed.), New Developments in Science Education Research (pp. 1-27). New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Taber, K. S. (2015). Affect and Meeting the Needs of the Gifted Chemistry Learner: Providing Intellectual Challenge to Engage Students in Enjoyable Learning. In M. Kahveci & M. Orgill (Eds.), Affective Dimensions in Chemistry Education (pp. 133-158): Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Taber, K. S. (2015). Meeting Educational Objectives in the Affective and Cognitive Domains: Personal and Social Constructivist Perspectives on Enjoyment, Motivation and Learning Chemistry. In M. Kahveci & M. Orgill (Eds.), Affective Dimensions in Chemistry Education (pp. 3-27): Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Taber, K. S. (2015). The Role of Conceptual Integration in Understanding and Learning Chemistry. In J. García-Martínez & E. Serrano-Torregrosa (Eds.), Chemistry Education: Best Practices, Opportunities and Trends (pp. 375-394): Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.

Taber, K. S. (2014). Methodological issues in science education research: a perspective from the philosophy of science. In M. R. Matthews (Ed.), International Handbook of Research in History and Philosophy for Science and Mathematics Education (pp. 1839-1894). Dordrecht: Springer.

de Jong, O., & Taber, K. S. (2014). The Many Faces of High School Chemistry. In N. Lederman & S. K. Abell (Eds.), Handbook of Research in Science Education, Volume 2 (pp. 457-480). New York: Routledge.

Taber, K. S. (2013). A common core to chemical conceptions: learners' conceptions of chemical stability, change and bonding. In G. Tsaparlis & H. Sevian (Eds.), Concepts of Matter in Science Education (pp. 391-418). Dordrecht: Springer.

Taber, K. S. (2013). Conceptual frameworks, metaphysical commitments and worldviews: the challenge of reflecting the relationships between science and religion in science education In N. Mansour & R. Wegerif (Eds.), Science Education for Diversity: Theory and practice (pp. 151-177). Dordrecht: Springer.

Taber, K. S. (2011). Constructivism as educational theory: Contingency in learning, and optimally guided instruction. In J. Hassaskhah (Ed.), Educational Theory (pp. 39-61). New York: Nova. (Available for free download.)

Taber, K. S. (2011). The natures of scientific thinking: creativity as the handmaiden to logic in the development of public and personal knowledge. In M. S. Khine (Ed.), Advances in the Nature of Science Research - Concepts and Methodologies (pp. 51-74). Dordrecht: Springer.

Taber, K. S. (2009). Progressing the Constructivist Research Programme to Advance Teaching and Learning about the Nature of Science. In I. M. Saleh & M. S. Khine (Eds.), Fostering Scientific Habits of Mind: Pedagogical Knowledge and Best Practices in Science Education (pp. 37-57). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Taber, K. S. (2009). Learning at the symbolic level. Chapter 4, in J. K. Gilbert and D. F. Treagust (Eds.), Multiple Representations in Chemical Education (pp. 75-108). Dordrecht: Springer. ("This chapter…should be required reading for teachers and trainee teachers at all levels", IJSE)

Taber, K. S. (2004) Conceptual Development, in Alsop, S., Bencze, L. and Pedretti, E. (editors), Analysing exemplary science teaching: theoretical lenses and a spectrum of possibilities for practice, Buckingham: Open University Press, pp.127-135. [Introduction]

Taber, K. S. & Coll, R. (2002) Chemical Bonding, in Gilbert, J. K. et al., (editors) Chemical Education: Research-based Practice, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers BV, pp.213-234.

Journal papers include

Taber, K. S., Billingsley, B., Riga, F., & Newdick, H. (2015). English secondary students’ thinking about the status of scientific theories: consistent, comprehensive, coherent and extensively evidenced explanations of aspects of the natural world – or just ‘an idea someone has’. The Curriculum Journal, 1-34. doi: 10.1080/09585176.2015.1043926

Philip, J. M. D., & Taber, K. S. (2015). Separating ‘Inquiry Questions’ and ‘Techniques’ to Help Learners Move between the How and the Why of Biology Practical Work. Journal of Biological Education, 1-20. doi:10.1080/00219266.2015.1058840

Taber, K. S. (2014). The significance of implicit knowledge in teaching and learning chemistry. Chemistry Education Research and Practice. doi: 10.1039/C4RP00124A

Adbo, K., & Taber, K. S. (2014). Developing an Understanding of Chemistry: A case study of one Swedish student's rich conceptualisation for making sense of upper secondary school chemistry. International Journal of Science Education, 36(7), 1107-1136. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2013.844869

Taber, K. S. (2013). Revisiting the chemistry triplet: drawing upon the nature of chemical knowledge and the psychology of learning to inform chemistry education. Chemistry Education Research and Practice. doi: 10.1039/C3RP00012E

Taber, K. S., Tsaparlis, G., & Nakibo─člu, C. (2012). Student Conceptions of Ionic Bonding: Patterns of thinking across three European contexts. International Journal of Science Education, 1-31, doi:10.1080/09500693.2012.656150.

Taber, K. S. (2012). Upper secondary students’ understanding of the forces acting in analogous atomic and solar systems Research in Science Education

Taber, K. S. (2012). Vive la différence? Comparing ‘like with like’ in studies of learners’ ideas in diverse educational contexts. Educational Research International, 2012(Article 168741), 1-12.

Taber K. S., & Tan, K. C. D. (2011). The insidious nature of ‘hard core’ alternative conceptions: Implications for the constructivist research programme of patterns in high school students’ and pre-service teachers’ thinking about ionisation energy. International Journal of Science Education, 33(2), 259-297

Taber, K. S., Billingsley, B., Riga, F., & Newdick, H. (2011). Secondary students’ responses to perceptions of the relationship between science and religion: stances identified from an interview study. Science Education, 95(6), 1000-1025.

Hofstein, A., Levy Nahum, T., Mamlok-Naaman, R., & Taber, K. S. (2010). Teaching and learning the concept of chemical bonding. Studies in Science Education, 46(2), 179-207.

Taber, K. S & Tan, K. C. D. (2010). The insidious nature of ‘hard core’ alternative conceptions: Implications for the constructivist research programme of patterns in high school students’ and pre-service teachers’ thinking about ionisation energy. International Journal of Science Education, iFirst. doi: 10.1080/09500691003709880

Taber, K. S.  & García Franco, A. (2010). Learning processes in chemistry: Drawing upon cognitive resources to learn about the particulate structure of matter. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(1), 99-142.

Taber, K. S. (2010). Straw men and false dichotomies: Overcoming philosophical confusion in chemical education. Journal of Chemical Education, 87(5), 552-558.

Taber, K. S. (2010). Paying lip-service to research?: The adoption of a constructivist perspective to inform science teaching in the English curriculum context. The Curriculum Journal, 21(1), 25 – 45.

Taber, K. S., & Bricheno, P. A. (2009). Coordinating Procedural and Conceptual Knowledge to Make Sense of Word Equations: Understanding the complexity of a 'simple' completion task at the learner's resolution. International Journal of Science Education, 31(15), 2021-2055.

Tan, K.-C. D., & Taber, K. S. (2009). Ionization Energy: Implications of Pre-service Teachers’ Conceptions. Journal of Chemical Education, 86(5), 623-629.

García Franco, A., & Taber, K. S. (2009). Secondary students' thinking about familiar phenomena: learners' explanations from a curriculum context where 'particles' is a key idea for organising teaching and learning. International Journal of Science Education, 31(14), 1917-1952.

Taber, K. S. (2009) College students’ conceptions of chemical stability: The widespread adoption of a heuristic rule out of context and beyond its range of application. International Journal of Science Education, 31(10), 1333-1358.

Adbo, K. & Taber, K. S. (2009). Learners' mental models of the particle nature of matter: a study of 16 year-old Swedish science students. International Journal of Science Education. 31(6), 757-786.

Taber, K. S. (2008) Exploring conceptual integration in student thinking: evidence from a case study. International Journal of Science Education, 30 (14), 1915-1943.

Taber, K. S. (2008) Conceptual resources for learning science: issues of transience and grain-size in cognition and cognitive structure. International Journal of Science Education, 30 (8), pp.1027-1053.

Tan, K. C. D., Taber, K. S., Liu, X., Coll, R. K., Lorenzo, M., Li, J., Goh, N.K. and Chia, L.S. (2008). Students' conceptions of ionisation energy: A cross-cultural study. International Journal of Science Education, 30 (2), pp.263-283.

Taber, K. S. (2006) Towards a curricular model of the nature of science, Science and Education. (Published on-line first, 10.1007/s11191-006-9056-4, 40 pages.) [Abstract]

Taber, K. S. (2006) Constructivism's new clothes: the trivial, the contingent, and a progressive research programme into the learning of science. Foundations of Chemistry, 8 (2), pp. 189-219.

Taber, K. S. (2006) Beyond Constructivism: the Progressive Research Programme into Learning Science. Studies in Science Education, 42, pp.125-184.

Taber, K. S. (2005) Learning quanta: barriers to stimulating transitions in student understanding of orbital ideas. Science Education, 89 (1), pp.94-116.

Taber, K. S. (2003) Mediating mental models of metals: acknowledging the priority of the learner's prior learning. Science Education, 87, pp.732-758.

Taber, K. S. (2003) Understanding ionisation energy: physical, chemical and alternative conceptions. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice, 4 (2), pp.149-169.

Taber, K. S. (2003) Lost without trace or not brought to mind? - a case study of remembering and forgetting of college science. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice, 4 (3), pp.249-277.

Taber, K. S. (2003) The atom in the chemistry curriculum: fundamental concept, teaching model or epistemological obstacle? Foundations of Chemistry, 5 (1), pp.43-84.

Taber, K. S. (2001) Building the structural concepts of chemistry: some considerations from educational research. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice in Europe, 2 (2), pp.123-158.

Taber, K. S. (2001) Constructing chemical concepts in the classroom?: using research to inform practice. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice in Europe, 2 (1), pp.43-51.

Taber, K. S. (2001) The mismatch between assumed prior knowledge and the learner's conceptions: a typology of learning impediments. Educational Studies, 27 (2), 159-171.

Taber, K. S. (2001) Shifting sands: a case study of conceptual development as competition between alternative conceptions. International Journal of Science Education, 23 (7), 731-753.

Taber, K. S. & Watts, M. (2000) Learners' explanations for chemical phenomena. Chemistry Education: Research and Practice in Europe, 1 (3), pp.329-353.

Taber, K. S. (2000) Chemistry lessons for universities?: a review of constructivist ideas. University Chemistry Education, 4 (2), pp.26-35.

Taber, K. S. (2000) Case studies and generalisability - grounded theory and research in science education. International Journal of Science Education, 22 (5), pp.469-487.

Taber, K. S. (2000) Multiple frameworks?: Evidence of manifold conceptions in individual cognitive structure. International Journal of Science Education, 22 (4), pp.399-417.

Taber, K. S. (1998) The sharing-out of nuclear attraction: or I can't think about Physics in Chemistry. International Journal of Science Education, 20 (8), pp.1001-1014.

Taber, K. S. (1998) An alternative conceptual framework from chemistry education. International Journal of Science Education, 20 (5), pp.597-608.

Watts, M. & Taber, K. S. (1996) An explanatory gestalt of essence: students' conceptions of the 'natural' in physical phenomena. International Journal of Science Education, 18 (8), pp.939-954.

Taber, K. S. and Watts, M. (1996) The secret life of the chemical bond: students' anthropomorphic and animistic references to bonding. International Journal of Science Education, 18 (5), pp.557-568.

Taber, K. S. (1995) Development of Student Understanding: A Case Study of Stability and Lability in Cognitive Structure. Research in Science and Technological Education, 13 (1), pp.87-97.

* A fuller list of Dr. Taber's publications is available

Social media


Dr Taber has a listing on Academia

Blog posts include:


Keith Taber occasionally tweets on Twitter


Keith Taber has a listing on Linked-In