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Understanding learning: education and neuroscience

Educational neuroscience brings together insights from education, neuroscience and
psychology to enhance student learning.

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Why its important
What were doing
More information

Why its important

As we discover and understand more about how we learn, we can use this knowledge to guide teaching practices and
help young people achieve more at school.
Combining expertise from education, neuroscience and psychology can:
help to develop evidence-informed teaching and learning practices
dispel neuromyths (https://thinkneuroscience.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/neuro-hit-or-neuro-myth/)common
misconceptions about how we learn and how the brain functions
enable teachers to understand the research that is already available.

What were doing

The Education and Neuroscience Initiative
In 2014, we launched the Education and Neuroscience Initiative in partnership with the Education Endowment
Foundation (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/) (EEF).
We funded six projects.Their aim is to develop and evaluate the impact of educational practices informed by
neuroscience. The projects all had to show potential for being eective, scalable and aordable for schools.
These are some of the only interventions to have been systematically tested on this scale for academic impact in the
The projects are:
Fit to Study (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evaluation/projects/t-to-study/): examiningthe eect of
exercise on academic achievement (read blog post (https://thinkneuroscience.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/t-tostudy-the-eects-of-exercise-on-the-brain/))
Spaced Learning (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evaluation/projects/spaced-learning/): an intensive
teaching approach where content is taught multiple times with breaks in between presentations
Teensleep (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evaluation/projects/teensleep/): testing the impact of sleep
education on academic achievement and wellbeing (read blog post


Learning Counterintuitive Concepts (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evaluation/projects/learningcounterintuitive-concepts/): using techniques that improve pupils ability to inhibit prior contradictory knowledge
when learning new concepts in science and maths
GraphoGame Rime (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evaluation/projects/graphogame-rime/): improving
pupils literacy through teaching phonics via rhyme analogy
Engaging the Brains Reward System (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evaluation/projects/engagingthe-brains-reward-system/): exploring the impact of uncertain rewards the opportunity to double or lose points - in
secondary school science classes (read blog post (https://thinkneuroscience.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/engagingthe-brains-reward-system-the-sci-napse-project/))
Scoping work
As part of the initiative, we surveyed teachers and parents to nd out their views on how neuroscience aects
education. Read the nal report [PDF 650KB] (https://wellcome.ac.uk/sites/default/les/wtp055240.pdf) and appendix
[PDF 225KB] (https://wellcome.ac.uk/sites/default/les/how-neuroscience-is-aecting-education-appendix-wellcomejan14.pdf).
The EEF has published a literature review
(https://v1.educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/uploads/pdf/NSED_LitReview_Final.pdf). It examines the impact of
interventions that are, or claim to be, based on neuroscience.

Were running the pre-conference at the International Mind, Brain and Education Conference (http://www.imbes.org/PreConference-Session) in Toronto on 15 September 2016.
See the ndings from our interactive online event (http://learning.imascientist.org.uk/), held in 2015, which allowed
teachers to ask researchers questions about the brain and learning.

More information
Read our Think blog (https://thinkneuroscience.wordpress.com/) for insights from expert columnists on the eld of
neuroscience and beyond.
Join our online networking site (http://eduneuroscience.grou.ps/) to connect with other educators, psychologists and

Contact us
If you have any questions, contact Lia Commissar:
+44 (0)20 7611 8641

Neuroscience and mental health (/what-we-do/topics/neuroscience-and-mental-health)
Understanding the brain and mind, and investigating conditions such as dementia, depression and schizophrenia.

Science education (/what-we-do/topics/science-education)

We believe that all young people should have an inspiring, high-quality science education.

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Reports and consultations

Read our reports on improving science education (/what-we-do/reports?eld_topic%5B16%5D%5D=16)andresponses
to major consultations (/what-we-do/consultation-responses?eld_topic%5B16%5D%5D=16).

Education resources
We produce and fund a wide range of educational resources for teachers (/what-we-do/our-work/education-resources).

This page can be viewed online at: https://wellcome.ac.uk/what-we-do/our-work/understanding-learning-education-andneuroscience

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