29 November 2013

A $16 million research centre combining education, psychology and neuroscience to improve learning outcomes was launched at the University of Queensland (UQ) this week.

The Science of Learning Research Centre is an Australian Research Council initiative that brings together researchers in education, neuroscience and cognitive psychology to work with teachers to understand the keys to successful learning.

It was opened by Queensland Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts Minister Mr Ian Walker.

UQ Queensland Brain Institute Director Professor Perry Bartlett said the Centre would aid the design of effective and practical techniques to improve learning and assessment in Australian schools.

“The objectives of the Centre are to identify, research and understand effective learning practices in the light of current knowledge about basic learning processes and factors that influence successful human learning,” he said.

“The establishment of the Science of Learning Research Centre will, for the first time, allow us to take what we know about how the brain learns and translate that into educational outcomes.”

“A benchtop-to-blackboard approach is revolutionary for the learning community.”

Mr Walker said the Centre had the power to influence educational outcomes for generations to come.

“To meet the challenges of the future, Queenslanders young and old will require lateral thinking, forward thinking, and creativity,” he said.

“The SLRC will bring new perspectives to teaching and education — from pre-school through formal education to life-long learning.

“This kind of research is another way we can shape a better, brighter future for the people of Queensland.”

The Centre is headed by Professor Ottmar Lipp from the UQ School of Psychology.

It is a collaboration between researchers from three lead institutions – UQ, the University of Melbourne and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) – and Flinders University, Deakin University, the University of New England, Charles Darwin University, and Macquarie University.

The initial grant to fund the Centre was led by Professor Lipp, QBI’s Professor Pankaj Sah, University of Melbourne’s Professor John Hattie, , and ACER’s Dr Mike Timms.

Professor Lipp said the Centre would focus on learning and would develop an evidence-based approach to educational practise.

“It is essential that this is done in collaboration between researchers from different disciplines and teachers,” he said.

The Centre will feature two experimental classrooms – one at UQ and one at the University of Melbourne.

The Science of Learning Research Centre is supported by nine partner organisations:  the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment; the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development; the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development; Questacon; North Carolina State University; the Institute of Education, London; Carnegie Mellon University; University College London; and the Benevolent Society.