Kevin J. Pugh

Kevin PughProfessor

Ph.D. 2000 Michigan State University, in Educational Psychology: Learning and Cognition

B.S. 1994 Brigham Young University, in Psychology

My Area of Interest

I'm interested in making learning transformative. There are so many wonderful ideas that can make the world a more awesome and compelling place to live in! Unfortunately, students rarely apply their learning in their everyday experience. In fact, they rarely think about school ideas outside of class unless they have to for a school assignment. Thus, I contemplate, write about, and investigate transformative experiences, particularly in the field of science education. I study how they develop, why they are so rare, and what can be done to foster them.

Beyond this specific focus, my general interests cover the following areas: Motivation, Science Education, Transfer of Learning, Deweyan Philosophy, and Technology in Education.

My Teaching Philosophy

As you may have guessed, my teaching philosophy centers around the goal of making learning transformative. I work hard to make my teaching relevant to my students' everyday experience and I use activities to encourage them to apply their learning outside the classroom. I also focus intently on helping students achieve deep-level learning and build integrated knowledge structures. In my courses, we often cover less content but go into more depth and focus on application and connection of ideas. In addition, I like to use authentic projects as these support transformative experiences and deep-level, connected learning. For example, I have my students do a Calvin and Hobbs problem-based learning project (Calvin is the problem!). Click here to see an example.

Recent Scholarly Activity

  • Koskey, K., Stewart, V., Sondergeld, T., & Pugh, K. J. (2016). Applying the mixed methods instrument development and construct validity process: The case of the transformative experience questionnaire.
    Journal of Mixed Methods Research. Advance Online Publication. doi:10.1177/1558689816633310
  • Bergstrom, C., Pugh, K. J., & Phillips, M. (2016). Effects of problem-based learning on recognition learning and transfer accounting for GPA and goal orientation. Journal of Experimental Education. Advance Online Publication. doi:10.1080/00220973.2015.1083521
  • Heddy, B. C., & Pugh, K. J. (2015). Bigger is not always better: Should educators aim for big transformative learning events or small tranformative learning experiences? Journal of Transformative Learning, 3, 52-58.
  • Pugh, K. J., Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., Phillips, M., & Perez. (2015). Supporting the development of transformative experience and interest. In K. A. Renninger, M. Nieswandt, & S. Hidi (Eds.), Interest in mathematics and science learning (pp. 369-383). Washington, DC: AERA.
  • Wong, D., & Pugh, K. (2015). Dewey and the learning of science. In R. Gunstone (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Science Education (pp. 304-309). New York: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2150-0_518. Available at
  • Pugh, K. J., Koskey, K. L. K., & Linnenbrink-Garcia, L. (2014). High school biology students’ transfer of the concept of natural selection: A mixed methods approach. Journal of Biological Education, 23-33. doi:10.1080/00219266.2013.801873
  • Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., Pugh, K. J., Koskey, K. L. K., & Stewart, V. (2012). Developing conceptual understanding of natural selection: The role of interest, efficacy, and basic prior knowledge. Journal of Experimental Education, 80, 45-68.
  • Pugh, K. J. (2011). Transformative experience: An integrative construct in the spirit of Deweyan pragmatism. Educational Psychologist, 46, 107-121.
  • Pugh, K. J., & Phillips, M. M. (2011). Helping students develop an appreciation for school content. Theory into Practice. 50, 285-292.
  • Pugh, K. J., Linnenbrink-Garcia, E. A., Koskey, K. L. K., Stewart, V. C., & Manzey, C. (2010). Teaching for transformative experiences and conceptual change: A case study and evaluation of a high school biology teacher's experience. Cognition and Instruction, 28, 273-316.
  • Pugh, K. J., Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., Koskey, K. L. K., Stewart, V. C., & Manzey, C. (2010). Motivation, learning, and transformative experience: A study of deep engagement in science. Science Education, 94, 1-28.

Dr. Pugh's website and the Learning and Experience Blog