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Keith Taber

Position/Status

Emeritus Professor of Science Education

E-mail Address

kst24@cam.ac.uk

Qualifications

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


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Profile

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 (PhD) 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 (This route is now led by James de Winter), and the science specialist option on the Middle School PGCE course, which offer a Master's level qualification in education from the University of Cambridge as well as the government's national Qualified Teacher Status. 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 taught educational research methods across a range of faculty courses, whilst leading the Science & Technology Education Research group, until retiring from his teaching office at the end of September 2020.

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 and Technology Education Research Group
  • Editor-in-chief: RSC Advances in Chemistry Education book series
  • Former Editor (2011-2018): Chemistry Education Research and Practice (a journal published by the RSC, available free on the internet at: http://www.rsc.org/cerp) [Links to guidance for authors here]
  • Editorial Board Member: Studies in Science Education (Book Reviews Editor: 2010-2017)
  • Editorial Board member: Teacher Development (Book Reviews Editor: 2010-2012)
  • 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 Board Member: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research
  • 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
  • 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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Scholarly interests

Prof. 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

He has also worked in the area of 'gifted' education', and has written about aspects of academic honerstry and scholarly standards. Key interersts include:

Learning in science

A key interest has been in the learning of chemistry, physics and science more generally. This includes learning about the nature of science, including the relationship between science and religion. Research has exlpored student thinking about scientific topics - inclusing alternative conceptions and frameworks. Read more about learners’ conceptions and thinking.

Read blog posts about learner thinking.

Teaching science

As an ex-school and college science teacher, Keith has beren intersted in how research into the nature of learning, and into students' thinking about science topics, can inform research-based practice though developing pedagogy for teaching science. Read more about teaching science.

Read blog posts about teaching.

Constructivism

The term constructivism is used to describe a range of ideas about how people learn. This has been applied in the area of how science develops new knowledge (it's 'epistemology'), and how researchers in areas like education should carry out their work. In particular, constructivism is a label for a research-informed perspective on student learning is curiculum areas such as science. Read more about constructivism.

There has been a good deal of misinformation about what constructivism means for teachers, especially when constructivism is incorrectly identified with teaching approaches absed on minimal support for learners.

Download a free chapter on 'Constructivism as educational theory'.

View a lecture on 'The constructivist perspective on learning'.

View a seminar talk on 'Constructivism – the good; the bad; and the abhorrent?'.

Giftedness?

The notion of 'giftedness' can be devisive, especially when some learerns are labelled as gifted or gifted and talented, and others as not gifted. Yet there is a real issue with ensuring that all students are fully challenged by the teaching, and historically this has, for example, been a serious problem in relation to the science curriculum in England. Read more about gifted students.

Research methodology

Having taught extensively about research methodology, Keith has written a range of material in tihs area (including a textbook for teachers and other others doing research in education). Read more about 'research methodology'.

Read about a key paper on Experimental research into teaching innovations: responding to methodological and ethical challenges.

Read blog posts about research methodology.

Academic standards

As a researcher, teacher, supervisor of graduate students, and journal editor, one becomes aware of a range of important issues about academic honesty and scholalrly standards of behaviour. As well as issues of research ethics (includng dubious but standard practices concerning control conditons in some areas of research) and honesty by scholars, this also includes practices of 'predatory' journals and conference corganisers to trick academics, and even sometimes inappriate behavoiur by top academic publishers. Read more about academic standards.

Read about Publisher contracts that may ask you to surrender your legal rights as an author.

Read blog posts about academic values and standards.

Graduate Project Supervision

Professor Taber has supervised a range of graduate student research projects for M.Ed., M.Phil, Ph.D, and Ed.D. students. A list of topics can be found here. Prof. Taber has reted from his teaching role and is not accepting requests to supervise any further new students. 


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Teaching

Prof. Taber taught in the Faculty for 20 years. During the first decade his main area of work was supporting graduates preparing for teaching, especially on the Secondary P.G.C.E. Science routes (with particular responsibility for PGCE Science/Physics) and with science specialists on the P.G.C.E. KS2-3 ('middle school') partnership course. In the second decade he mainly taught educational research methods across a range of courses, but with a major contribution to the Educational Research course that was taken as a M.Phil./M.Ed. route and was the doctoral training course supporting students working towards Ph.D. registration. He set up some webpages to support the teaching of research methods: Research Methodology.


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Publications

A full record of Prof. Taber's publications may be found here

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

Books

K. S. Taber (2020) Foundations for Teaching Chemistry: Chemical knowledge for teaching. Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge.

K. S. Taber (2019). The Nature of the Chemical Concept: Constructing chemical knowledge in teaching and learning. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry. [https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/ebook/978-1-78262-460-8]

K. S. Taber (2018). Masterclass in Science Education: Transforming teaching and learning. London: Bloomsbury.

K. S. Taber, M. Sumida, & L. McClure (Eds.), (2018) Teaching Gifted Learners in STEM Subjects: Developing talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Taber, K. S. (Ed.) (2017). Üstün Yetenekliler İçin Fen Eğitimi. Ankara: Pegem Akademi Publishing. [Sample materials]

Sumida, M., & Taber, K. S. (Eds.). (2017). Policy and Practice in Science Education for the Gifted: Approaches from diverse national contexts. Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge.

Taber, K. S., & Akpan, B. (Eds.). (2017). Science Education: An international course companion. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. [Further details]

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.

Selected other publications:

Taber, K. S. (2019). Conceptual confusion in the chemistry curriculum: exemplifying the problematic nature of representing chemical concepts as target knowledge. Foundations of Chemistry. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10698-019-09346-3 [Open Access] 

Taber, K. S. (2019). Experimental research into teaching innovations: responding to methodological and ethical challenges. Studies in Science Education, 55(1), 69-119. doi:10.1080/03057267.2019.1658058 

Taber, K. S. (2017). The Use of Cronbach’s Alpha When Developing and Reporting Research Instruments in Science Education. Research in Science Education, 48, 1273–1296. doi:10.1007/s11165-016-9602-2

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, 14(2), 156-168..doi: 10.1039/C3RP00012E

Taber, K. S. (2013). Upper Secondary Students’ Understanding of the Basic Physical Interactions in Analogous Atomic and Solar Systems. Research in Science Education, 43(4), 1377-1406. doi:10.1007/s11165-012-9312-3

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. Retrieved from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/edu/2012/168741/ doi:10.1155/2012/168741 

Taber, K. S. (2012). Meeting the needs of gifted science learners in the context of England’s system of comprehensive secondary education: the ASCEND project. Journal of Science Education in Japan, 36(2), 101-112.

 

Social media

 

Academia

Dr Taber has a listing on Academia

 

Twitter


Keith Taber ( @DrKeithSTaber ) occasionally tweets on Twitter

 

Linked-In


Keith Taber has a listing on Linked-In

 

Research Gate

Keith has a listing at Research Gate

 

Highly regarded in the field, well, in lots of fields…

Sadly, academia suffers from the same kinds of false advertising and scams as other areas of modern life. According to various publishers and conference organisers * ,  Professor Taber:

  • is an eminent biologist
  • has made immense contributions to physics
  • has made eminent contributions to chemistry
  • is an expert in computer science
  • has made excellent contributions to medical sciences
  • is an eminent researcher in otolaryngology 
  • has made prominent contributions to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine
  • has made significant contributions to psychotherapy
  • is prominent in immunodiagnostics
  • has remarkable achievements in Human Resources

Sadly such nonsense is a reminder that one should always examine the evidence behind such claims before taking them at face value. 

Science - Education - Research

Keith's personal website: https://science-education-research.com/ includes sections on:

Learners’ conceptions and thinking
Teaching science
Giftedness
Constructivism
Research methodology
Academic standards

Keith occasionally blogs his musings on issues related to science, education, and research (or various permutations of the three). Recent posts include: