Spreading science-based learning into teaching degrees

Australia’s teaching professionals are set to gain the full benefits of extensive science of learning research through new postgraduate courses developed to ‘foster a new generation of educational innovators’.

Already, The University of Queensland and The University of Melbourne have begun offering courses in the emerging field of science of learning and these will be expanded in 2017 at both those tertiary institutions, with Flinders University in Adelaide expected to also offer new courses in the coming year.

The courses have been developed as a result of collaborative work from representatives of the Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC) bringing together the fields of neuroscience, cognitive psychology and education to provide new understandings in how humans learn and develop.

Professor Annemaree Carroll, from The University of Queensland and one of the 25 Chief Investigators in the SLRC, said that there are many important perspectives within the science of learning that will enhance the skills and abilities of the teaching profession.

“In developing preservice and postgraduate offerings within our Schools and Faculties of Education across the nation, we hope to foster a new generation of educational innovators – individuals committed to conceiving of, testing and developing novel educational tools, techniques and designs using the science of learning framework,” she said.

“We anticipate participants will push forward existing conceptions of education and help current systems evolve to meet 21st Century demands.  In order to do this, educators must be well versed in the conventions of research and scientific communication, as well as translation and development iterations.”

UQ launched its very first science of learning postgraduate coursework program as an elective in the Master of Educational Studies Program in the second semester of 2016.

“The Foundations of the Science of Learning, is a 13-week course offered externally to students undertaking postgraduate studies in education and provides students with an overview of the emerging field of the science of learning and its implications for teaching, learning and leading across the lifespan and in a range of contexts,” Professor Carroll explained.

“It explores the latest research in the field, how this can be translated into the various contexts relevant to the participants, and encourages discussion and reflection on how participants individually think about and support learning and teaching.  Students develop skills in the critical evaluation of science of learning literature and how to translate this into practical applications. The course is highly interactive with some of the content determined by the participants.

Participants are challenged to articulate through a variety of mediums how this research impacts their thinking and their practice, and students collaboratively develop a set of learning, teaching and leading principles exemplified through the course content and delivery.”

UQ is looking to expand the suite of courses to include a Field of Studies in the Science of Learning and an undergraduate course in the second year of the preservice teacher programs and in the Masters of Teaching (Primary) and (Secondary).

The University of Melbourne also have developed a suite of programs on ‘The Brain and the Science of Learning’ which commenced in 2016 with almost 100 enrolments. UM is also progressing with a Masters level Foundations of Human Learning course, a Professional Certificate in Educational Neuroscience and multi-semester Masters of the Science of Learning courses in the next two years.

Teachers have also been offered ongoing professional development through SLRC run one and two day workshops.

 

About The SLRC

The Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC) was established in 2013, funded as an Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative, with the vision to improve learning outcomes at pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary levels through scientifically-validated learning tools and strategies. The SLRC brings together more than 100 neuroscientists, psychologists and education researchers from across the country, collaborating on programs to better understand learning, using a range of innovative experimental techniques and programs.