Enhancing the Learning Sciences – Bath Spa University

The Learning Sciences in ITE

Bath Spa University's Centre for Research in Scientific and Technological Learning (CRiSTLE) was funded by The Wellcome Trust to develop resource materials to engage trainee teachers in primary initial teacher education (ITE)

This interdisciplinary project has brought together teacher educators and education researchers and researchers in psychology and neuroscience to design and trial resources for initial teacher education.

The project has been led by Kendra McMahon and Pete Etchells, with Alison Lee, Lisa Howarth, Kate Humphreys, Chloe Shu-Hua Yeh, Emma Arblaster, Darren McKay, Emma Asprey, Kerry-Anne Barber, Lynn Salter, Sarah Earle and Alan Howe. It was funded by the Wellcome Trust (2017-2020).

We aim to give ITE tutors and trainee teachers confidence in being able to read, understand, critique and apply relevant neuroscience research to their teaching, and to help to break down communication barriers between teachers and scientific researchers. This will help prepare teachers to critically evaluate brain-based claims and to support children’s learning.

We have developed teaching and learning resources which are available here at The Learning Sciences in Teacher Education and BathSpaData. There are resources for students, for tutors to use in sessions and for ITE leaders and tutors in England implementing the Core Content Framework for ITE in their curriculum.

This project aims to deepen our understanding of ideas, values and experiences of trainees and university tutors in relation to the learning sciences in ITE.

What inspired your project? 

Over the past decade, there have been increasingly louder calls for greater integration and collaboration between neuroscience and teaching. This project began with challenging neuromyths and has built on this by taking an open and critical look at how cognitive psychology and neuroscience can become part of educational dialogues.

"I enjoyed learning about new parts of the brain and finding out how little we know. I also learned how to recognise valid research and not just readily accept theories."

- Project student participant

Press, media, and publications

Blog: What should we do about neuroscience in Initial Teacher Education? Kendra McMahon and Alison Lee.

McMahon, K. Yeh, C & Etchells, P. (2019) The Impact of a Modified Initial Teacher Education on Challenging Trainees' Understanding of Neuromyths. Mind, Brain and Education 13 4 pp 288-297.

An in-depth exploration of the project has recently been published in Impact: Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, as part of their wider issue on "The Science of Learning".

BERA members can access a BERA Futures presentation about the project.

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