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Kristin Rearden headshot

Kristin Rearden, PhD

Assistant Department Head and Clinical Professor, STEM Education/Science


Kristin Rearden is a clinical professor of science education and TPTE assistant department head. Her father’s work as a chemist for Texaco and her mother’s long span of teaching junior high English were both inspirations for her to pursue a career in science education. Rearden earned a BA in physics from the University of Dallas and taught middle school math and science in Poughkeepsie, New York. During that time, she earned her master’s degree in educational psychology from Marist College and her permanent New York State teaching licenses in secondary math, physics, and general science. After earning a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University, she joined the UT faculty in 1999.

Currently, Rearden is interested in effective practices in teacher preparation, the impact of place-based education, and the integration of children’s literature and science. She has served on NSTA’s Outstanding Science Trade Book committee and NSTA’s Best STEM Book committee for a total of seven years. She teaches graduate science education courses and leads the cohort of interns specializing in middle grades math and science. Her excellence in teaching has been recognized at various levels, including the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, the University of Tennessee Alumni Association, and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association. She is honored to work with outstanding teacher candidates at the University of Tennessee and with faculty members who strive for excellence in education at all levels.

Professional Background



Professor Rearden’s three areas of research include effective practices in teacher preparation, place-based educational practices, and integrating science and literacy. She has worked with elementary, middle, and secondary science teacher candidates since her role as a graduate research assistant in the Salish I Research Project at Texas A&M University. As a faculty member of the University of Tennessee, she has led a cohort of interns since 1999 and has supported teacher candidates’ professional development through coursework as well as fieldwork in urban, suburban, and rural settings.

A second area of interest is place-based educational practices. This interest is related to her work in effective practice in teacher preparation, and is a component of her work with teacher candidates in elementary science. Additionally, she has conducted research with Prof. Joy Bertling (Art Education) on the implementation of place-based strategies in K-12 art education.

A third area of interest is the integration of science and literacy. Working with Prof. Amy Broemmel (Literacy Education), she has explored trends in high-quality science trade books  and strategies for implementing those books. As a member of both the NSTA/Children’s Book Council’s Outstanding Science Trade Book review panel and NSTA’s Best STEM Book review panel, she has reviewed and rated over 1000 books, presented annually at NSTA conferences, and published research in both literacy and science research journals including The Reading Teacher and Journal of Elementary Science Education.

Kristin Rearden headshot

Contact Information

  • 419 Claxton Education Complex, 1122 Volunteer Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37996
  • Phone: 865-974-1162
  • E-mail: