The Centre for Research in Scientific and Technological Learning and Education (CRiSTLE) aims to inform and improve scientific and technological engagement across educational settings

Science and technology are disciplines dependent on dialogues between established knowledge and new ideas and practices. Education in these disciplines should reflect this and the work of the centre aims to impact learning communities at all stages of education.

CRiSTLE sets out to develop research into pedagogies that address the current tensions teachers and learners experience between science and technology as existing bodies of knowledge, in which their performance can be assessed and as developing fields within which they can be creative and develop new understandings, tools and products.

CRiSTLE aims to...

  • Coordinate and support both individual and collaborative research and scholarship in original approaches to science and technological education.
  • Broaden knowledge of theory and practice within the field of scientific and technological learning and related fields.
  • Foster a collaborative approach to developing projects including applications for external funding.
  • Promote values of criticality and dialogue within science and technology education across national and transnational contexts.
  • Disseminate the findings from such research via the web, conferences, high quality academic and professional publications.
  • Impact policy and practice on science and technology education in a range of settings and contexts.

Scientific thinking makes an important contribution to ways of thinking across different cultures. There are national and international concerns about the supply of future scientists and technologists and the educational performance of children in school in these areas.

However, scientific literacy should be part of a broad education for global citizenship that enables people to engage with personal and social issues such as health and the environment. It also resonates with the university research theme of Environmental Humanities. In line with the university conception of education we will seek to challenge the barriers between science and the arts.

"Scientific thinking makes an important contribution to ways of thinking across different cultures."

CRiSTLE draws together researchers working in different areas of science and technology education within Bath Spa's School of Education, as well as with colleagues researching and teaching biology and psychology in the School of Sciences. We embrace opportunities to collaborate with colleagues across the university and in the external environment.

Ongoing projects

Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS)

The Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project is funded by the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) and based at Bath Spa University’s School of Education.

It aims to develop support for valid, reliable and manageable teacher assessment, which can have a positive impact on children’s learning.

Enhancing the Learning Sciences within Primary Initial Teacher Education

In partnership with the Wellcome Collection Trust, Enhancing the Learning Sciences within Primary Initial Teacher Education brings together an interdisciplinary team to design and trial materials with ITE primary trainee teachers on Primary PGCE or School Direct routes.

Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (TDTS)

Thinking Doing Talking Science (TDTS) is a programme that aims to make science lessons in primary schools more practical, creative and challenging.


STEAM Power Creative Structures linked PGCE secondary art and mathematics trainee teachers with Bristol M Shed museum and Threeways ssschools for children with special needs.

It explores interdisciplinary concepts and constructions stimulated by the architecture and geometry of Bristol Harbour. 

Head quarters blog

Written in part by Pete EtchellsHead quarters is a blog published by the Guardian that aims to explain some of the fascinating discoveries of psychology research and reveals how psychologists go about their work. 

Forest of Imagination

Forest of Imagination is a four-day participatory, contemporary arts event and creative learning programme delivered by a collaborative team of local creative organisations in Bath.

The event transforms a familiar public place into an inclusive space for contemporary creativity and intuitive play, offering an immersive experience for participants through interactive installations, artworks and workshops. Forest of Imagination is free and open to all.

CRiSTLE Contacts

Centre co-leaders
  • Kendra McMahon, Senior Lecturer in Science Education
  • Prof. Peter Etchells, Senior Lecturer in Biological Psychology, coordinator of  the Guardian's science blog network, where he has written about the intersection of neuroscience and education
  • Sarah Earle, Senior Lecturer in Primary Science Education, TAPS Project lead
Bath Spa staff involved
  • June Bianchi, Senior Lecturer in Art Education, Leader of Art PGCE
  • Chris Collier, Senior Lecturer in Primary Science Education, module leader Education and the Environment
  • Rebecca Digby, Senior Lecturer in Education, Programme Leader Education Studies Early Years
  • Penny Hay, Reader in Arts Education and Director of Research 5x5x5=creativity
  • Dr Iain Haysom, Course Leader: Diet and Health, leader of open module Discovering Science
  • Isabel Hopwood-Stephens, Lecturer in Primary Science Education and PhD student
  • Dr Alison Lee, Coordinator of Graduate Studies in Psychology, with particular interest in the neuropsychology of Parkinson’s disease
  • Paul Lortal, Secondary PGCE Programme Leader, PGCE Biology
  • Darren Mckay, Senior Lecturer in Primary PGCE
  • Dr. Caroline Ormesher, Senior Lecturer, Primary Maths, School of Education
  • Dr Anil de Sequeira, External Affairs Co-ordinator (Biology) and Course Leader BSc (Hons) Food with Nutrition and BA/BSc Food and Nutrition (Combined)
  • Dr Chloe Shu-Hua Yeh, Senior Lecturer of Education Studies (Research Methods)
  • Anna Holbrook, Course Leader - Physics Secondary PGCE
  • Kerry-Anne Barber, Senior Lecturer in Primary Science Education.
Previous PhD students

Sarah Earle

  • Formative and Summative teacher assessment of primary science in England
  • Supervisors: Dr. Kendra McMahon, Prof. Dan Davies

Isabel Hopwood-Stephens

  • Is the TAPS pyramid being used in schools to shift primary science assessment culture and if so, how?
  • Supervisors: Dr. Kendra McMahon, Prof. Dan Davies
  • PhD funded by the Primary Science Teaching Trust. 
Current PhD students

CRiSTLE is currently supporting a number of PhD students and we are pleased to consider new applications.

To learn more about studying for a PhD at Bath Spa University, please visit our Research Degrees page.

Rebecca Digby

  • To what extent can Video Stimulated Dialogue facilitate the development of practitioner critical reflection and understanding of creativity in scientific enquiry in the Early Years?
  • Supervisors: Dr Kendra McMahon, Dr Darren Garside.

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