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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


Ph.D. - Educational Psychology: Learning & Cognition, Michigan State University, MI

B.S. – Psychology, Brigham Young University, UT

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 Psychologist, Educational 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.

Dr. Pugh recently published a book on learning for in-service and pre-service teachers: Computers, Cockroaches, and Ecosystems: Understanding Learning through Metaphor. Find more information on this book on the Learning and Experience Blog.

Research/Areas of Interest

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).

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

Goldman, J., Cavazos, J., Heddy, B. C., & Pugh, K. J. (in press). Emotions, values, and engagement: Understanding motivation of first-generation college students. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology.
Pugh, K. J., Kriescher, D. P. J., Cropp, S., & Younis, M. (in press). Philosophical groundings for a theory of transformative experience. Educational Theory.
Pugh, K. J. (in press). Motivation Calvin: Using problem-based learning to teach motivation. In D. Meyer & A. Emery (Eds.), Teaching motivation for student engagement. Information Age Publishing.
Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. M., Olson, C., & Kriescher, D. (in press). Transformative experience: A motivational perspective on transfer. In C. Hohensee & J. Lobato (Eds.), Transfer of Learning: Progressive perspectives for mathematics education and related fields. Springer.
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, Advance online publication, 1-15. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/21548455.2021.1874620
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, Advance online publication, 1-30. doi:10.1002/tea.21680
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., 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. 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, Advance online publication. 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, Advance online publication, 1-18. 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., Bergstrom, C. M., & Spencer, B. (2017). Profiles of transformative engagement: Identification, description, and relation to learning and instruction. Science Education, 101, 369-398. doi:10.1002/sce.21270

Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. R., Krob, K. E., & Heddy, B. C. (2017). Supporting deep engagement: The Teaching for Transformative Experience in Science (TTES) Model. Journal of Experimental Education, 85, 629-657. doi:10.1080/00220973.2016.1277333 


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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