Understanding learning: education and neuroscience

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

Why it’s important 

We can use knowledge about how people learn to develop and test evidence-informed teaching practices that help young people achieve more at school. 

Combining expertise from education, neuroscience and psychology can also help to dispel neuromyths(opens in a new tab) – common misconceptions about how we learn and how the brain functions.

What we’re doing 

The Education and Neuroscience Initiative

In 2014, we launched the Education and Neuroscience Initiative in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation(opens in a new tab) (EEF). 

The initiative aimed to:

  • develop and evaluate evidence-informed teaching and learning practices based on neuroscience
  • support teachers to better understand and access research on the science of learning, and use it to improve their practice.

Through the initiative we funded projects in the following areas:

Building the evidence for educational interventions

These projects are some of the only educational interventions informed by neuroscience to have been systematically tested at scale for academic impact in the classroom.

They all had to demonstrate potential to be effective, scalable and affordable for schools. 

Supporting teachers with the science of learning

These projects connect teachers with research on the science of learning in a variety of ways. 

Reports

We surveyed teachers and parents to find out their views on how neuroscience affects education. Read the final report [PDF 650KB] and appendix [PDF 225KB].

The EEF's literature review(opens in a new tab) examines the impact of interventions that are, or claim to be, based on neuroscience.

Events 

In June 2018 we hosted the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction’s (EARLI) biennial Neuroscience and Education conference(opens in a new tab). The conference brought together researchers from education, neuroscience and psychology to hear about the latest developments in the field. Catch up with the talks(opens in a new tab).

In 2016 we ran the pre-conference at the International Mind, Brain and Education Conference(opens in a new tab) in Toronto. Read more about what we learnt(opens in a new tab).

More information 

  • We worked with the Chartered College of Teaching to develop the content for the spring 2018 edition of their journal, The science of learning. We sponsored the edition, and a copy was sent to every school in the UK.
  • Read our Think blog for insights from expert columnists on the field of neuroscience and beyond. 
  • Science education is one of our priority areas – find out more about what we're doing to inspire teachers and students.

Contact us 

If you have any questions, contact Asimina Vergou

a.vergou@wellcome.org

+44 (0)20 7611 7395