Perspectives on tomorrow's education research from teachers and researchers

Practitioner Blog - 17 February 2023
Teacher's attitudes towards Educational Neuroscience
Richard Newton-Chance
Learnus recently commissioned YouGov to survey teachers about their awareness of Educational Neuroscience 1 As an organisation, we are dedicated to improving the dialogue between teachers and  researchers and so wanted to find out about the levels of knowledge amongst teachers of the  opportunities for better understanding of how children learn that we think are offered by  educational neuroscience. The survey was designed to ...
Practitioner Blog - 2 March 2022
Teaching needs adaptive expertise now more than ever
Margaret Mulholland
I've spent the last couple of years looking at how we support teacher development to build the knowledge and confidence teachers need to educate pupils with learning difficulties. I deliberately refrain from using the euphemism 'special needs' as it labels and limits our view of who and what we are discussing here .  The pandemic has opened up the debate about ...
Practitioner Blog - 24 January 2022
Learnus in the classroom under Covid 19 - Observations from one who was there
Jeremy Dudman-Jones
The last 2 years have been a whirlwind in schools and especially in the classroom. As an Assistant Head teacher and class teacher of Politics and psychology it has been an interesting 2 years, on the one hand providing interesting case studies for my politics and psychology students and on the other hand proving enormous challenges for young people parents ...
Researcher Blog - 20 October 2021
Spatial thinking skills: how and why are they associated with children’s science knowledge and learning?
Dr Alex Hodgkiss
Spatial thinking relates to how we think about where shapes in space are, how we think about and manipulate shapes in our mind, and about how objects move in relation to each other. We use spatial thinking skills regularly: when we navigate (even with GPS maps!); pack our shopping bags; or build flatpack furniture. These skills have historically been thought ...
Practitioner Blog - 8 June 2021
Can ‘learning science’ help us teach teenagers better?
Anne Hudson
During my 34 years of teaching, I learned that my students were training me: the more insight I had into them and their responses, the better I could teach. Experience is one of the biggest factors in teacher quality. In addition, as Hattie (2008) showed, teaching is most powerful when teachers themselves are learning. I eagerly consumed ideas about how ...
Researcher Blog - 18 May 2021
Learning and Lockdown: Why understanding the science of learning is more important than ever
Dr Rebecca Torrence Jenkins
We educate our children in order to equip them for a career in their chosen field. But the workplace is changing at an ever-faster rate, as the pace of technological advancement increases. Many teaching professionals have thus argued that education should place greater emphasis on developing skills (creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking) which are at least as important as learning content.  After ...
Practitioner Blog - 21 April 2021
Neuroplasticity: Endless possibilities
Dr Martina Lecky
"Agile, playfuul, audacious, inventive, [he] leaps across boundaries, making unexpected connections, juggling a dozen trains of thought at once" Oliver Sacks   This quotation by Oliver Sacks, the renowned neurologist who inspired my fascination with the three-pound organ situated in, and protected by, the cranium, figuratively describes how the connections, in the order of trillions, made between our billions of neurons control every aspect of our existence. I was born ...
Practitioner Blog - 15 March 2021
Are we just reinventing the wheel?
Derek Bell and Helen M. Darlington
On 4th February 2021 we gave a presentation as part of the online Centre for Educational Neuroscience (CEN) seminar series. We were reflecting on the impact of educational neuroscience in the classroom as outlined in a chapter we wrote for the book, Educational Neuroscience: development across the life span. Our presentation appeared to be well received and, on the evidence of ...
Researcher Blog - 17 February 2021
What should we do about neuroscience in Initial Teacher Education?
Kendra McMahon and Alison Lee
The problem we have been puzzling over together is what to do about neuroscience in Initial Teacher Education (ITE). Previous Learnus Blogs have been written either from the perspective of practitioner or researcher. We each see ourselves as being both. We conduct research in our respective fields and we teach university students. We each have an additional claim to be ...
Practitioner blog - 22 January 2021
How can we engage school leaders with insights from educational neuroscience in order to effect change in schools?
Richard Newton-Chance
There is now a plethora of examples of the application of educational neuroscience to fairly specific issues.  The UnLocke (Stop and Think) project is a good example (see and Learnus Annual Lecture 2020 by Denis Mareschal - YouTube for further details). Based on the theoretical understanding of cognitive inhibition this randomized control trial indicated potential for improving performance of primary ...
Researcher Blog - 10 December 2020
The Future of Psychology in Maths Education: A Focus on Maths Anxiety
Thomas Hunt
It is clear that psychological investigation has an important role to play in maths education. It is also a good example of how an interdisciplinary approach can be highly effective, involving educational practitioners and a range of sub-disciplines of psychology. Decades of research has taught us a lot, particularly in the context of mathematical cognition and emotional responses to maths. ...
Practitioner blog - 27 November 2020
Dealing with Detachment: Why are so many children unsettled and distracted in school - and what can we do to help?
Jonathan Hancock
During the decade I spent in primary schools, I saw a rapid rise in the number of children who struggled with their emotions. Many were so emotionally unsettled that every day in school was difficult – putting their learning at serious risk. In particular, many showed signs of Attachment Disorder – a condition normally associated with a failure to form healthy attachments ...
Researcher blog - 29 October 2020
Time pressure: does it promote or interfere with learning?
Iroise Dumontheil
30 seconds left…. clap, clap, clap, clap, clap… put your pens down now. When I was between 11 and 14 years old, in my French hometown, our English teacher tested weekly our knowledge of irregular verbs. We had to revise, let’s say, 30 irregular verbs that week (building up over the course of the years); we would prepare a ...
Researcher blog - 24 July 2020
Educational Research: Learning from Life in Lockdown
Duncan Astle. Cognitive Neuroscientist
I am writing at my kitchen table, after months of ‘working from home’. As a researcher who studies cognitive and brain development in early-mid childhood, it has been a very strange time. Schools are still mostly shut. The home has become the classroom. Not long after lockdown began researchers in my field started planning research projects. What is the impact of ...
Practitioner blog - 24 July 2020
What is the best way to plan retrieval practice in primary schools given the range of different subjects and developmental ability?
Anoara Mughal. Primary School Teacher
Retrieval practice is the processes of recalling previously learnt knowledge from long term memory to consolidate learning. Although, there are many types of retrieval practice, there appear to be two main ways that knowledge is retrieved in classroom practice, with both valuable in their own right: isolated retrieval practice and embedded retrieval. Isolated retrieval practice could be characterised as tasks ...
Introductory blog - 20 July 2020
Closing the gap between science and practice in education: From metaphorical bridges to concrete common ground
Matt Slocombe and Derek Bell
Much has been said about the gulf between research and practice in education. None more so than the gap between our understanding of learning from the cognitive sciences and the needs of teachers and policymakers in education. Discussion of the latter is often characterised through the evocation of fabled metaphorical bridges. Some say that we need to build bridges in order to ...