Thomas Bryce


  • United Kingdom

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

My research interests are concerned with school science education and education in Scotland, the latter evidenced by my co-editorship of Scottish Education published by Edinburgh University Press (1st edition 1999, 2nd edition 2003, 3rd edition 2008, 4th edition 2013, 5th edition 2018). The most recent edition - Scottish Education, Fifth Edition (Eds. Bryce, Humes, Gillies and Kennedy) was published in July 2018. In science education, my interests include: developmental aspects of children’s concept acquisition; their grasp of difficult ideas; teaching strategies which help in cases of controversy and contested public debate about scientific matters; and the continuing evolution of the science curriculum in Scotland. Collaborations with colleagues, including former research students, have resulted in numerous joint publications internationally - five to date with Stephen Day in IJSE, CSSE and SER, ten to date with Eric Blown (on the basic astronomy knowledge of young people) in IJSE, RISE and S&E.

At the outset of my career in teaching I was a teacher, then Principal Teacher of Physics in Glasgow, then a lecturer in Jordanhill College, becoming Head of Psychology for 4 years; then Head of Education and Psychology (which became Educational Studies) in Jordanhill/Strathclyde University for a further 7 years. Between 1997 and 2002, I was the elected Vice Dean (Research) for the then Faculty of Education. In my full time capacity, I supervised twelve doctoral candidates to successful completion, several of the individuals studying part-time, being teachers or members of Faculty staff.

I act as a referee for the leading science education journals, including IJSE, JRST and SE, as well as several mainstream educational journals like SER (I chaired the editorial board of SER for fourteen years). Much of my funded research related to assessment. I directed the TAPS projects concerned with practical science assessment in the 1980s for the Standard Grade sciences and co-directed four of the national science monitoring projects in the 1980s and 1990s (the forerunners of the Scottish Surveys of Achievement). I was involved in the early stages of the AERS project, jointly conducted by Stirling, Edinburgh and Strathclyde Universities in the mid 2000s. In retirement I continue to research and write, often jointly with Walter Humes. Our fruitful collaborations have spanned many decades.

Research Interests

My interests in science education include:

  • concept and skill acquisition and how these are intertwined – the science knowledge of young people (including their grasp of basic earth science and astronomy) and how it develops;
  • constructivist approaches to learning and teaching and the ideas which pupils find difficult in the secondary sciences, particularly in physics which I taught before becoming involved in initial teacher education;
  • more humanistic approaches to science teaching and the resistance to it in so many scientific quarters, including the school curriculum;
  • the handling of socio-scientific topics like global warming, genetic modification, etc…, in particular how discussion can be conducted usefully in science lessons.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


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