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Maggie Renken

Assistant Professor    

Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, University of Wyoming, 2011
M.S. in Experimental Psychology, University of Wyoming, 2008
B.S. in Psychology,Clemson University, 2005


The research that Maggie Renken focuses on involves understanding students’ scientific thinking. Projects explore how science knowledge is acquired by considering the role of underlying mechanisms, like epistemic cognition, and their development. This work is intended to inform approaches for assessing and improving scientific thinking and learning. Her research considers the role of text-based explanations, hands-on experimentation and computer-simulated experiences in students’ disciplinary core knowledge and has been recognized with an Outstanding Masters’ Thesis award from the University of Wyoming, an Outstanding Dissertation award from the Educational Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association and an Award for Outstanding Research from Georgia State’s Department of Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders.

Since her time as an NSF Graduate Fellow in K-12 STEM education with the University of Wyoming’s Science Posse, Renken has worked with K-12 educators in a variety of school settings, with researchers in ecology, mathematics, engineering, biology, physics and geosciences, and with science education researchers in eight countries outside the United States, including India, Denmark, France, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, China and Canada.


Renken, M., Peffer, M., Otrel-Cass, K., Girault, I., and Chioccariello, A. (in press, expected publication date 2016). Simulations as scaffolds in science education. Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) Books and Briefs Series. Springer Publishing.

Peffer, M., Beckler, M. L., Schunn, C., Renken, M., and Revak, A. (2015). “Science Classroom Inquiry (SCI) Simulations: A novel method to scaffold science learning.” PLoS One, 10(3), e0120638. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120638.

Renken, M., McMahan, E., and Nitkova, M. (2015). “Initial validation of an instrument measuring psychology-specific epistemological beliefs.” Teaching of Psychology, 42(2), 126-136. doi: 10.1177/0098628315569927.  

Renken, M. D., and Nunez, N. (2013). “Computer simulations and clear observations do not guarantee conceptual understanding.” Learning and Instruction, 23, 10–23. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2012.08.006

Renken, M. D., and Nunez, N. (2010). “Evidence for improved conclusion accuracy after reading about rather than conducting a belief-inconsistent simple physics experiment.” Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 6, p.792-817. doi: 10.1002/acp.1587.