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ACER and partners establish Science of Learning Research Centre

08 May 2013

A new Science of Learning Research Centre led by a consortium of researchers at the University of Queensland, the University of Melbourne and ACER will work with teachers to enhance our understanding of the learning process.

Commonwealth Science and Research Minister Dr Craig Emerson yesterday announced $16 million in funding for the Centre, which will bring together researchers in education, neuroscience and cognitive psychology.

The Centre will investigate effective learning practices in the light of current knowledge about basic learning processes and factors that influence successful learning, explained Dr Mike Timms, Director of the Assessment and Psychometric Research program at ACER.

'Educational neuroscience offers great promise for understanding how learning takes place in the brain so that we can help all students to learn,' said Dr Timms.

Professor Ottmar Lipp, from the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, will lead the Centre. Professor Lipp said the Centre’s cross-disciplinary and inter-professional approach will enable researchers to develop a scientific evidence base that can be used to enhance learning.

'State-of-the-art experimental classrooms will be established in Brisbane and Melbourne so that the neurological, psychological and social aspects of learning can be studied and measured while students are learning,' he said.

Professor John Hattie, Director of the Melbourne Educational Research Institute at the University of Melbourne's Graduate School of Education, said, 'We have become very good at transmitting knowledge to our students, but our young people need more than just knowledge; they also need to be able to assess and manipulate knowledge; to think critically and analytically.

'This exciting partnership will help us understand more about how we learn, so that we can ultimately teach students these incredibly important skills.'

Researchers from Flinders University, Deakin University, the University of New England, Charles Darwin University and Macquarie University are also part of the consortium.

The Centre is a key recommendation of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council Expert Working Group report, Transforming Learning and the Transmission of Knowledge.

Dr Timms, Professor Lipp and Professor Hattie will be speaking at the annual ACER Research Conference, ‘How the Brain Learns: What lessons are there for teaching?’ in Melbourne on 4-6 August 2013. For more information on the conference, visit <www.acer.edu.au/conference> ■

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