Office of the Dean
Welcome to the College of Education website. My name is Thomas Koballa and I have the privilege of serving as dean of the college. Whether you’re looking for specific information or happened upon our college from another site, I hope you’ll take time to learn about our students, faculty, courses, programs and degrees, and get a feel for the distinctively student-centered, academic environment that is the College of Education.
At the College of Education we gain strength from our rich history. The bachelor’s degree in education is the oldest professional degree at Georgia Southern, and from 1924 to 1955, the entire institution focused exclusively on preparing future educators for Georgia’s schools.
But we are not resting on our laurels. The college is a dynamic, evolving institution that prides itself on preparing 21st century leaders through diverse, intensive field experiences, cutting-edge technology and research-based instruction. We are a leader in online graduate education and consistently prepare the highest number of doctoral students at the University. And, our programs of study are regularly assessed and evaluated to meet the latest state and national standards, and ensure student success.
Innovation is the driver for much of what we do; that is, we apply information, imagination and initiative to bring new practices to bear on the problems of learning in K-12 schools and among education professionals. The spirit of innovation is evident in the research conducted by faculty and students and in the launch of new programs and initiatives. The Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students certificate program, yearlong student teaching, and digital badging for teacher credentialing are among them. Also, new to the college is the Innovation Studio, a MakerSpace where youth and adults work with new and emerging technologies, elbow-to-elbow with faculty to seek solutions to real-world problems.
While innovation is our driver, students come first in the College of Education. In each of our departments, advising centers and support units, you’ll find caring and knowledgeable professionals whose job it is to help students succeed from their first steps on the campus through graduation day. Add this to our ever-growing list of alumni who accomplish positive change teaching, leading and serving throughout the state, nation and world and you can see why the Georgia Southern University College of Education is the right place for you.
Thomas R. Koballa, Jr.
Dean and Professor
About the Dean
Since July of 2010, Thomas Koballa has served as Dean of the College of Education and Professor of Science Education at Georgia Southern University. For 28 years prior to that service, he held faculty and administrative positions at the University of Georgia and the University of Texas at Austin.
He came to Georgia Southern to stimulate the College of Education’s research agenda and advance high-quality programs. The charge is aligned with his belief that the stature of a modern college of education is determined by the quality and impact of its research in concert with the exceptionality of its students. Using the strategic plan as a guide, he has worked with the faculty to reorient the college toward one in which a culture of inquiry—inquiry anchored in the synergistic relationship between research and practice—permeates more and more aspects of faculty and student activity.
To advance this reorientation, Dean Koballa, with the support of the faculty, established a seed-grant program to stimulated research and encourage grant proposal development and submission, introduced a faculty leave program, proposed a differentiated faculty workload plan, and increased faculty and graduate student travel allocations. Other accomplishments aligned with goals of the strategic plan include the establishment of a College Diversity Council and College Leadership Team, re-accreditation of the college by NCATE in 2013, an increase in faculty publications and grants, an increase in philanthropic gifts and enrollment management plans to guide program growth, reinvention and realignment. The Innovation Incentive grants program and the refocused Partnership Council are among the recent developments to stimulate the proliferation of learning opportunities positioned for student success.
As a teacher–scholar, Dean Koballa positions his research to inform his teaching and his teaching to inform my research. Over the years, he taught courses in science education, biology and general education. In addition, he mentored undergraduate and graduate students, and directed theses and dissertations at the University of Georgia and the University of Texas at Austin. Dean Koballa was recognized for his university teaching and mentoring accomplishments by the Association for Science Teacher Education, the Georgia Science Teachers Association and the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. The research he conducted early in his career examined science educators’ attitudes and was informed by social psychological theories. That research led to better understandings of the relationship between educators’ dispositions and their classroom practice. More recently, his research has involved greater collaboration with P-12 school and community partners and university faculty in a host of STEM disciplines. It has expanded to include investigations of educator mentoring, examinations of the influence of case-based pedagogy and studies of conference participation on the thinking and practice of STEM educators.
Dean Koballa’s work has been published in refereed journals, including the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, the International Journal of Science Education and the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. He has authored and edited books and textbooks, and published chapters in multiple books, including the Handbook of College Science Teaching and the Second International Handbook of Science Education. Dean Koballa received external funding from the National Science Foundation, the Janet H. and C. Harry Knowles Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, among others. As principal investigator of the Georgia Teacher Quality Grants Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, he administered an annual budget of over $2 million from 2006 to 2010. In addition, he was elected president of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and the Southeastern Association for Science Teacher Education by fellow researchers.
Dean’s Office Staff
Last updated: 5/6/2019