James D. Ellis, PhD

Associate Professor
NCATE Coordinator
Primary office:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall
Room 346
University of Kansas
1122 West Campus Road
Lawrence, KS 66045-3101

Jim Ellis, associate professor, joined the KU faculty in the fall of 1997. Prior to joining the KU faculty, he worked for two years as a program officer at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, for thirteen years as a senior staff associate at the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, and for three years as a visiting assistant professor in the Science Education Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Ellis also taught science for three years in the junior high in Garden City, Kansas. He earned his B.A. degree in Zoology, his M.A. degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and his Ph.D. in Education all from the University of Kansas.


I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in science education for middle and secondary science teachers.

Teaching Interests

  • Science teaching
  • Science education research
  • Science instruction
  • Technology education
  • Secondary Teacher Education


Ellis’s primary research interest is the improvement of science instruction. During the past thirty years while at BSCS and KU, he has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and private foundations, related to science education. He has conducted research projects to design, develop, test, and implement a nationwide network of professional development sites for the preparation of science teachers to use educational technology. He led an NSF project to prepare elementary teachers throughout Colorado to implement inquiry-based science curriculum and instruction. While at BSCS, he led efforts to develop a middle school health science curriculum, to research and develop a multi-media program for preparing elementary science teachers, and to complete a design study for the use of technology in elementary science programs. While at KU, Ellis has collaborated with faculty in the Center for Research on Learning, in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, and in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on multiple grants related to the improvement of science instruction, especially for special needs students and gifted students.

Ellis has been author or co-author on more than 25 books and instructional materials, more than 30 articles in journals, including the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, and School Science and Mathematics, and has given more than 150 presentations at professional meetings.

Research Interests

  • Educational reform
  • Education Policy
  • Science Teaching
  • Science Learning
  • Scientific Argumentation
  • Science Discourse
  • Science Education Standards
  • Educational Technology


Science instruction; Educational Technology; Scientific Argumentation; Professional Learning Communities

Selected Publications

Ellis, J. D., Rowland, A., Ault, M., Hare, J. Craig, Bulgren, J., & Bradley, B. (in press). Annual Report to DRL- Discovery Research K-12 of the National Science Foundation for Enhancing Argumentation with Social Media: Supporting Teacher Professional Learning and Student Science Practice (NSF award #1316799).

Ault, M., Hare, J. Craig, & Ellis, J. D. (2016). Using Reason Racer to Support Scientific Argumentation in Middle School Science Instruction. In D. Flavio (Ed.), Improving K-12 STEM Education Outcomes through Technological Integration. (pp. 399-431). IGI Global Disseminaor of Knowledge.

Frey, B., Ellis, J. D., Bulgren, J. A., Hare, J. Craig, & Ault, M. (2015). Development of a test of scientific argumentation. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 19(4), 1-18.

Bulgren, J., & Ellis, J. D. (2015). Scientific Argumentation Routine.

Bulgren, J., & Ellis, J. D (2015). The Argumentation and Evaluation Guide: Encouraging NGSS-based critical thinking. Science Scope, 38(7), 78-85.

Marilyn, A., Jana, C., Bruce, F., James, E. D., & Janis, B. (2015). The Effectiveness of Reason Racer, a Game Designed to Engage Middle School Students in Scientific Argumentation. Journal of Research in Technology in Education, 47(1), 21-40.

Bulgren, J. A., Ellis, J. D., & Marquis, J. G. (2014). The Uses and Effectiveness of an Argumentation and Evaluation Intervention in Science Classes. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 23(1), 82-97. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10956-013-9452-x/fulltext.html?wt_mc=alerts:TOCjournals

Bulgren, J., Ault, M., Ellis, J., Frey, B., Craig-Hare, J., & Adams, D. (2013). Evidence Game -- Annual Report to DRK-12 of the National Science Foundation.

Bulgren, J., & Ellis, J. D. (2012). Argumentation and evaluation intervention in science classes: Teaching and learning with Toulmin. In M. Swe Khine (Ed.), Perspectives on Scientific Argumentation: Theory, Practice and Research (pp. 135-154). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Education, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1979
  • M.A., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 1974
  • B.A., Zoology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1970


Middle and Secondary Science Education

Associate professor Diane Nielsen involved in $120 million project to overhaul how reading is taught to children by 2015
School of Education is 10th among public universities for its master’s and doctoral programs
—U.S. News & World Report
3.35: average GPA of students admitted to teacher education program
All teacher education programs accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
All teacher education programs accredited by the Kansas State Department of Education
Alumni have been named Kansas Teacher of the Year
Alumni have received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and the Horizon Award
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