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Kelli Ruth Thomas, Ph.D

School of Education
Associate Professor
Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Undergraduate Programs
Primary office:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall
Room 214B
University of Kansas
1122 West Campus Rd
Lawrence, KS 66045-3101


Dr. Kelli Thomas is Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Undergraduate programs in the School of Education at the University of Kansas and Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. Dr. Thomas's professional work has focused on mathematics and science teaching, learning, and assessment in schools for more than 25 years. She has been involved in educator preparation and professional development of educators in university and K-12 settings. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Kansas, Thomas was on faculty at the University of Central Missouri. She began her career in education teaching in public school settings including the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) in Germany.

Dr. Thomas specializes in educator preparation, professional development, and elementary mathematics education.


Teaching Interests

  • Educator Preparation
  • Mathematics education
  • Elementary mathematics methods
  • Mathematics instruction
  • Mathematics curriculum


Dr. Thomas's research investigates issues related to educator preparation, assessment and evaluation, mathematics and science education in schools, mathematics teacher development, and students' mathematical reasoning as they solve problems. Thomas previously served as the Mathematics Learning Map Team Leader for the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment Project through the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas.

Thomas has published results of her collaborative research in various journals such as the Journal of Educational Research, School Science and Mathematics, Action in Teacher Education, Teaching Children Mathematics, and the American Journal of Evaluation. She has presented sessions at international, national, and regional conferences in the fields of mathematics education, assessment and evaluation, and educational research.

Selected Publications

Thomas, K. (2013). Changing Mathematics Teaching Practices and Improving Student Outcomes Through Collaborative Evaluation. Teacher Education and Practice, 26(4).

Bechard, S. Hess, K. Camacho, C. Russell, M. & Thomas, K. (2012). Why Should Cognitive Learning Models Be Used as the Foundation for Designing Next Generation Assessment Systems?.

Peter, L. Ng, J. & Thomas, K. R. (2011). How career changers make sense of teaching through professional metaphor. Action in Teacher Education, 33, 232-245.

Thomas, K. R., & Huffman, D. W. (2011). Navigating the challenges of helping teachers use data to inform educational decisions. Administrative Issues Journal, 1(2), 94-102.

Thomas, K. R., & Hart, J. (2010). Pre-Service teachers' perceptions of model eliciting activities. In R. Lesh, et al. (Eds.), Modeling Students' Mathematical Modeling Competencies. New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Huffman, D. W., & Thomas, K. R. (2009). Collaborative inquiry and data-based decision making. In T. Kowalski & T. Lasley (Eds.), Handbook on Data-based Decision Making in Education (pp. 344-362). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Huffman, D. W., Lawrenz, F. & Thomas, K. R. (2008). A collaborative immersion approach to evaluation capacity building. American Journal of Evaluation, 29(3), 358-368.

Lawrenz, F. Thomas, K. R., Huffman, D. W., & Clarkson, L. (2008). Evaluation capacity building in the schools: Administrator-led and teacher-led perspectives. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 23(3).

Huffman, D. W., Thomas, K. R., Lombardi, K. Lundy, A. & Atwood-Blaine, D. (2008). Reforming elementary science through collaborative evaluation communities. CESI Science, 40(1), 12-22.

Huffman, D. W., Thomas, K. R., & Lawrenz, F. (2008). Science and mathematics instruction in a reform-based teacher preparation program. School Science and Mathematics, 108(4), 137-145.

Thomas, K. R. (2008). Freshman Institute Evaluation Report. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas.

Ng, J. & Thomas, K. R. (2007). Cream of the crop: A dual case study of outstanding urban teachers from an alternative route mathematics and science program. Action in Teacher Education, 21(9), 3-19.

Huffman, D. W., & Thomas, K. R. (2007). Collaborative Evaluation Communities in Urban Schools: Annual Report to The National Science Foundation.

Huffman, D. W., Lawrenz, F. Thomas, K. R., & Clarkson, L. (2006). Collaborative evaluation communities in urban schools: A model of evaluation capacity building for STEM education. In D. Wayne Huffman & F. Lawrenz (Eds.), Critical issues in STEM evaluation (Vol. 109, pp. 73-85). New Directions for Evaluation.

Huffman, D. W., Lawrenz, F. & Thomas, K. R. (2006). Synthesis of STEM education evaluation ideas. In D. Wayne Huffman & F. Lawrenz (Eds.), Critical issues in STEM evaluation (Vol. 109, pp. 105-108). New Directions for Evaluation.

Thomas, K. R. (2006). Authentic assessments in an elementary mathematics methods course. The Advocate, 14(1), 26-31.

Thomas, K. R. (2006). Students THINK: A framework for improving problem solving. Teaching Children Mathematics, 13(2), 86-95.

Aldrich, J. V., & Thomas, K. R. (2005). Evaluating constructivist beliefs of teacher candidates. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 25, 339-347.

Thomas, K. R., Friedman-Nimz, R. Mahlios, M. & O’Brien, B. (2005). Where are they coming from? Beyond demographics of individuals seeking an alternative route to mathematics and science teacher licensure. Action in Teacher Education, 27(1), 10-15.

Thomas, K. R., & Hohn, R. L. (2005). A dozen ways to make a difference: How teachers can foster students' mathematical thinking. ENC Focus Online http://www.enc.org/features/focus/archive/ideaseslmath/?ls=ho

Huffman, D. W., Thomas, K. R., & Lawrenz, F. (2003). Relationship between professional development, teachers' instructional practices, and the achievement of students in science and mathematics. School Science and Mathematics, 103(8), 378-387.

Lamson, S. L., Aldrich, J. V., & Thomas, K. R. (2003). Using social inquiry strategies to enhance teacher candidate dispositions. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 474176.

Thomas, K. R., & Aldrich, J. V. (2002). Evaluating the diverse constructivist beliefs of early childhood, elementary, and middle school education majors. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 346082.

Thomas, K. R., Capps, L. Poggio, J. P., & Glasnapp, D. R. (2002). An analysis of the content, completeness, and substance of the revised Kansas mathematics standards.

Thomas, K. R., Thomas, M. Hofmeister, D. & King, A. (2002). Using web-based software in teacher education courses. In Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, & Higher Education. Montreal, Canada.

Weimer, J. Ridenour, C. Thomas, K. R., & Place, W. (2001). Higher-order teacher questioning of boys and girls in elementary mathematics classrooms. The Journal of Educational Research, 95, 84-92.

Lamson, S. Thomas, K. R., Aldrich, J. V., & King, A. (2001). Assessing pre-service candidates' web-based electronic portfolios. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 458202.

Thomas, K. R., Lamson, S. & King, A. (2001). Training teacher candidates to create web-based electronic professional portfolios. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 458191.

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction - Mathematics Emphasis, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 2001
  • M.S.A., Administration, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, 1996
  • B.S.E., Elementary Education (minor: Mathematics), Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, Missouri, 1990


Elementary Mathematics Education