College of Education *
College of Education *
Kevin N Dunbar (HDQM)
Kevin N Dunbar
Contact Information:
Room: 3304U Benjamin Building
Phone: (301) 405-7233
E-mail: kndunbar@umd.edu

Kevin N Dunbar (Ph. D., University of Toronto)
Professor; Developmental Science Program & Educational Psychology Specialization
Human Development and Quantitative Methodology (HDQM)

Research Labs, Centers, Affiliations and Special Appointments:
Director: Laboratory for Thinking, Reasoning, Creativity & Educational Neuroscience in the Department of Human Development & Quantitative Methodology
Member of The Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science at the University of Maryland
Visiting Research Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong


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Research Interests | Bio | Publications | Curriculum Vitae |

Research Interests

Thinking & Reasoning heuristics: Analogy, Deduction, Causal thinking, Creativity, Development of thinking skills, Gender and science, Neuroimaging of the Scientific and creative mind, Critical Thinking.

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Professional Biography

Kevin Niall Dunbar is Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland College Park. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the National University of Ireland (Dublin) and his PhD from the University of Toronto. Professor Dunbar conducts research on the ways that children, students, artists and scientists think, reason, create and understand the world.  He has investigated, children’s learning, undergraduate student learning, and scientists creating new ideas –he has even investigated politicians! He focuses on reasoning strategies involved in analogy, causality, creativity, concept discovery and  how these strategies are used by children, students, and scientists. He uses three converging methodologies to explore scientific, artistic,  and critical thinking.  First, he conducts naturalistic observations of scientists in their labs, students in undergraduate laboratory classes, and visitors to museums (usually families). Second, he conducts experiments with students generating theories, creating new concepts, conducting experiments, and interpreting new information. Third, he conducts neuroimaging research on students as they learn about Physics, Chemistry and Biology, as well as creating new ideas using analogy and causal thinking. Here, the goal is to discover optimal ways of presenting new concepts so that students can overcome blocks to learning.

Specific topics of his research have been the roles of unexpected results in fostering discovery and invention, Gender in the scientific laboratory, and the roles of analogy and causal thinking in discovery and  invention.  Professor Dunbar has published in the fields of Education, Experimental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Educational Neuroscience. In addition to publications in academic forums, his work has been featured in the New Yorker, WIRED magazine, Time ideas, Slate, and the Washington Post. He regularly speaks in North America, Asia, and Europe on the topics of Creativity, Analogy, and the effects of learning on the brain, and how to improve critical, creative, and scientific thinking across the lifespan.

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Selected Publications

(and Representative Talks)

Dunbar, K. N. (2016). I Harnessing Discovery, Conceptual Change & Creativity in the 21st Century.  Public Lecture, University of Hong Kong.

Dunbar, K. N. (2015). From Big Data to Big Theory: The end of the hypothesis as we know it? Keynote address to the “Scientific Discovery in the Social Sciences” conference, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, England, January 30.

Dunbar, K. N. (2015). The Science of Learning and Educational Neuroscience. NICHD working group on Reasoning. Bethesda, Maryland.

Dunbar, K. N. (2013). The interaction of Neural, Behavioral, and Genetic mechanisms underlying Creativity and Discovery. Invited talk American Psychological Society 25th annual Convention, Washington DC.

Dumas, D., & Dunbar, K.N. (2016). The Creative Stereotype Effect. PLOS ONE | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0142567 February 10, 2016

Dumas D., Dunbar K. N. (2014). Understanding fluency and originality: A latent variable perspective. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 14, 56–67

Byrnes, J.P., & Dunbar, K.N. (2014). The nature and development of Critical-Analytic Thinking, Educational Psychology Review. DOI 10.1007/s10648-014-9284-0 

Dunbar, K. N. & Klahr, D.  (2012). Scientific Thinking & Reasoning. K.J. Holyoak, R. Morrison (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Thinking & Reasoning

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Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae

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