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Kevin Pugh

Kevin Pugh


Psychological Sciences
Education and Behavioral Sciences

Contact Information

McKee Hall 63
Mailing Address
University of Northern Colorado
Psychological Sciences
Campus Box 94
Geeley, CO 80639


Professional/Academic Experience

After his Ph.D., Kevin Pugh held an appointment as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toledo. He joined the University of Northern Colorado in 2006.

Dr. Pugh is known for his work on transformative experience theory and has published his research in top tier journals including Educational PsychologistEducational Researcher, the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, and others. He has obtained grants from the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. He currently serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Experimental Education.

Other Experience

Dr. Pugh primarily teaches courses on learning theory, cognition, and motivation, both online and face-to-face. His teaching practice emphasizes transformative, authentic, and problem-based learning. As an example, read about the Calvin Project in which pre-service teachers learn about motivation by trying to solve Calvin’s motivation problems (yes, Calvin is the one from the Calvin & Hobbes comic).

Research/Areas of Interest

Dr. Pugh is a pioneer in the development of transformative experience theory. This theory seeks to understand why learning is more transformative for some students and how to foster transformative learning for all students. The theory is based on Dewey’s theory of aesthetic experience and defines transformative experience as those experiences in which students come to see and experience the world in meaningful new ways as a result of learning new ideas in school. Find more information on transformative experience theory and a list of relevant articles on the Learning and Experience Blog.

Dr. Pugh’s broader research interests and expertise include a study of motivation, learning transfer, science education, problem-based learning, and Dewey’s philosophy of education.

Publications/Creative Works

Recent Publications

Manzanares, A. D., Anderson, S. W., & Pugh, K. J. (2023). College students’ prior knowledge and alternative conceptions regarding minerals. Journal of Geoscience Education, Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10899995.2023.2205990

Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. M., Phillips, M. M., Sexton, J. M., Olson, C., & Riggs, E. M. (2023). Perceived connection to instructor and instructor passion as predictors of transformative experiences in science. Education Sciences, 13(5), 526. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13050526

Pugh, K. J., Kriescher, D. P. J., Tocco, A. J., Olson, C., Bergstrom, C. M., Younis, M., & BenSalem, M. (2023). The Seeing Science project: Using design-based research to develop a transformative experience intervention. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 32, 338-354. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-023-10031-6

Cropp, S., Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. M., & Kriescher, D. (2022). Seeing science: Using mobile technology to make learning transformative. Journal of Computers in Math and Science Teaching, 41(2), 85-108. 

Fairchild, E., Newman, H., Sexton, J., Pugh, K., & Riggs, E. (2022). “Not to be stereotypical but…”. Exclusive and inclusive gendered discourses about geology field experiences. The Journal of Gender Studies, 31(4), 492-504.  doi:10.1080/09589236.2021.1924644 

Carver, A. P., Garner, J. K., Kaplan, A., & Pugh, K. J. (2021). Visitors’ attendance motivation and meaning making at a public science event. International journal of Science Education, Part B, 11(1), 75-89.https://doi.org/10.1080/21548455.2021.1874620  

Goldman, J., Cavazos, J., Heddy, B. C., & Pugh, K. J. (2021). Emotions, values, and engagement: Understanding motivation of first-generation college students. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, Advance online publication, 1-15. doi:10.1037/stl0000263 

Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. M., Olson, C., & Kriescher, D. (2021). Transformative experience: A motivational perspective on transfer. In C. Hohensee & J. Lobato (Eds.), Transfer of Learning: Progressive perspectives for mathematics education and related fields (pp. 297-314). Cham, CH: Springer. 

Pugh, K. J., Paek, S. H., Phillips, M. M., Sexton, J. M., Bergstrom, C. M., Flores, S. D., & Riggs, E. M. (2021). Predicting academic and career choice: The role of transformative experience, connection to instructor, and gender accounting for interest/identity and contextual factors. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 58(6), 822-851. doi:10.1002/tea.21680 

Pugh, K. J. (2021). Motivation Calvin: Using problem-based learning to teach motivation. In D. K. Meyer & A. Emery (Eds.), Teaching motivation for student engagement (pp. 213-236). Information Age Publishing. 

Pugh, K. J., Engle-Newman, C., Cropp, S., & Younis, M. (2020). Transformative learning within cultural spaces: Transformative experience interventions through the lens of culturally relevant pedagogy. In G. A. D. Liem & D. M. McInerney (Eds.), Promoting motivation and learning in contexts: Sociocultural perspectives on educational interventions (pp. 173-200). Information Age. 

Pugh, K., Kriescher, D., Cropp, S., & Younis, M. (2020). Philosophical groundings for a theory of transformative experience. Educational Theory, 70(5), 539-560. doi:10.1111/edth.12443 

Sexton, J., Newman, H., Bergstrom, C., Pugh, K., & Riggs, E. (2020). Multisite investigation of sexist experiences encountered by undergraduate female geology students. International Education Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 12(3), 354-376.http://genderandset.open.ac.uk/index.php/genderandset/article/view/669 

Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. M., Wilson, L., Geiger, S., Goldman, J., Heddy, B. C., . . . Kriescher, D. (2019). Transformative experience: A critical review and investigation of individual factors. In J. M. Spector, B. B. Lockee, & M. D. Childress (Eds.), Learning, design, and technology: An International compendium of theory, research, practice, and policy. Cham, CH: Springer.  

Pugh, K. J., Phillips, M., Sexton, J., Bergstrom, C., & Riggs, E. (2019). A quantitative investigation of geoscience department factors associated with recruitment and retention of female students. Journal of Geoscience Education, 67(3), 266-284. doi:10.1080/10899995.2019.1582924 

Sexton, J. M., Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. M., & Riggs, E. M. (2018). Reasons undergraduate students majored in geology across six universities: The importance of gender and department. Journal of Geoscience Education, 66(4), 319-336. doi:10.1080/10899995.2018.1507546 

Koskey, K., Stewart, V., Sondergeld, T., & Pugh, K. J. (2018). Applying the mixed methods instrument development and construct validity process: The case of the transformative experience questionnaire. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 12, 95-122. doi:10.1177/1558689816633310 


Pugh, K. J. (2020). Transformative science education: Change how your students experience the world. New York: Teachers College Press.

Pugh, K. J. (2017). Computers, cockroaches and ecosystems: Understanding learning through metaphor. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. 

Website, Blog, and Social Media

Check out Dr. Pugh's personal website and blog at https://learningandexperienceblog.wordpress.com/. 

You can also reach him directly on Twitter @pugh_learning. 

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