Professor, Graduate School of Education
Office: AB- 126B
- PhD, Curriculum and instruction/Science education, University of Maryland, College Park
- MA, Curriculum and instruction/Chemical education, University of Maryland, College Park
- BA, Chemistry and secondary education, Thomas More College
Courses regularly taught
- Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations in the Pedagogy of Science
- Curriculum and Teaching in Science
- Practica in Teaching Science
- Leadership in Educational Settings
Current Research Interests
- Minds-on constructivist approaches to science teaching and teacher education (e.g., use of inquiry-based, discrepant event activities and analogies to challenge misconceptions)
- Science teacher leadership and professional development networks
- Science-society technology and integrated, real-world relevant STEM curriculum development
- Web as a resource for science teachers: see the large collection of websites and annotated bibliographies at: http://csmte.binghamton.edu/links.html
- Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning with Discrepant Events (2010), More BPS… (2011) and Even More BPS… (2011): This NSTA Press series features a new dual-purpose instructional strategy for use in preservice science methods courses, inservice science professional development programs and by individual science teachers (grades 5-12). See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-P_h8Fyf_-c for a 7-minute interview where the author answers questions about the focus of the book series by demonstrating a discrepant event.
Each activity in the three books (used singly or combined in any order) serves both as a:
(1) model, inquiry-oriented, discrepant event activity for teaching science to grades 5-12 students (in a way that is Safe, Simple, Economical, Enjoyable, Effective & Relevant/S2EE2R criteria) and (2) visual participatory analogy for science teacher education that teaches teachers principles of research-informed, Curriculum-Instruction-Assessment, best practices.
Like all NSTA Press books, these books are modestly priced (in traditional paper form and as e-books) and allow anyone to download for free the Introduction + Table of Content + a Sample activity. Go to: http://www.nsta.org/publications/press/brainpowered.aspx (click on Read More for the individual books & then scroll down to Read Inside to download the free materials). The three free activities for the respective books in the BPS series are:
Activity 16. Air Mass Matters: Creating a Need-to-Know [activities that make air “sensible”]
Activity 15. Measurements & Molecules Matters: Less is More & Curriculum “Survival of the Fittest” [compelling macroscopic evidence for the molecular view of matter]
Activity 10. Osmosis and “Naked” Eggs: The Environment Matters [a 5E Teaching Cycle unit]
Additionally, the hundreds of URLs cited in the Internet Connections feature are available free-of-charge at the NSTA Press Extras page: http://www.nsta.org/publications/press/extras/.
- Busch, J.R., O’Brien, T.P., & Spangler, W.D. (2005). Increasing the quantity and quality of school leadership candidates through formation experiences. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 11(3).
- Stamp, N. & O’Brien, T. (January 2005). GK-12 Partnership: A Model to Advance Change in Science Education. Bioscience, 55(1), 70-77.
- Green, D.W. & O’Brien, T. The Internet's Impact on Teacher Practice and Classroom Culture. T.H.E. Journal, V.29, No.11 (June 2002), 44-51. [available at http://thejournal.com/Articles/2002/06/01/The-Internets-Impact-on-Teacher-Practice-and-Classroom-Culture.aspx].
- O’Brien, T. & Seager, D. (Nov. 2000). 5 E(z) steps to teaching earth-moon scaling: An interdisciplinary mathematics/science/technology mini-unit. SchoolScience & Mathematics, 100(7), 390-395.
- O’Brien, T. (Oct. 2000). A toilet paper timeline of evolution: A 5 E cycle on the concept of scale. American Biology Teacher, 62 (8), 578-582.
- O'Brien, T.& Cheeks, D. (1996). NYSTEP Teacher Guide. Albany, NY: New York State Education Department. See Research Highlights to read more about this guide.
- O'Brien, T. (1992). Science inservice workshops that work for elementary teachers. School Science and Mathematics, 92, 422-426.
- O'Brien, T. (1991). The science and art of demonstrations. Journal of Chemical Education, 68, 933-936.
- American Chemical Society, (1988). Chemistry in the Community (ChemCom). Dr. O'Brien was a contributing author for student text and Editor/Author for Teacher's Guide.
Other Professional Activities
Co-Principal Investigator on numerous grants:
- Big Ideas in Science Institute (BISI), funded by NYSED
- Graduate Teaching Fellows in Elementary School Education, funded by NSF GK12
- Community Collaboration to Enhance Investigative Biology, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
- Community of Faculty and Student Scholars in Biology, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Improving Access, Success and Teaching Performance in Molecular Biology, funded by the National Science Foundation
- Statewide Training for Educators in Physical Sciences (STEPS), funded by the National Science Foundation
- STEP-UP: Southern Tier Educators Program for Understanding Physics, funded by the New York State Education Department
- University and Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Teaching, 1999
- New York State Association of Teacher Educator's (NYSATE) R. Neal Appleby Award for New York State's "Outstanding Teacher Educator," 1999