IOE – Social and emotional skills in childhood and their long-term effects on adult life

In this report we assess the evidence on the long-run associations between social and emotional skills in childhood and adult outcomes. We report findings from an extensive literature review, and from our own new research.
There are three key elements:
(i) A literature review of evidence relating to the relationship between social and emotional skills in childhood and adult outcomes;
(ii) New analysis of the British Cohort Study about these relationships across a wide range of outcomes, including a particular focus on the role of social and emotional skills in transmitting ‘top job’ status between parents and their children;
(iii) New, preliminary analysis of how the gaps in some of the skills assessed in (ii) are emerging in children in the UK born around the millennium.

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MESH guides – Supporting professional judgement with evidence from the science of learning

MESH is being built progressively through the collective effort of networks of educators based in schools, colleges, universities and other organisations, working in specialist groups using different tools. MESH operates in a similar way to that used for the production of edited books or academic journals. Funding to keep the MESHGuides available openly to all is provided by subscribing organisations, through projects and from donors.

Call for collective action: for scaling up promising small scale research

Much promising educational research is too small scale to warrant adoption across the education sector. MESH encourages educators to join together to scale up promising small scale research for example by replicating studies in different settings and by forming review groups to synthesise existing evidence (Tool 3).

Research, small scale or large scale, undertaken by teachers together under rigorous ethical and methodological conditions, can generate reliable and valid findings to add to a MESHGuide. An essential component in reporting research is that sufficient material is included to support comparisons with other studies and to allow others to build on and extend the work. The REPOSE Guidelines, were developed by experienced systematic reviewers of evidence to provide a writing framework which ensured key material is included in reports.

If you have good examples from your country please send these so we can share them with others. For example, Professor Greer Johnson and Professor Emeritus Neil Dempster at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia are  leading the synthesis of 1000 action research studies conducted by principals leading literacy in a number of contexts across Australian States and Territories. A MESHGuide summarising the outcomes should published by March 2016.

Research Aggregators such as the UK Education Evidence Portal and the Evidence Informed Policy and Practice in Education in Europe Search Portal provide useful tools for finding research which has been done before. Google Scholar and the USA What Works Clearing House are major resources providing access to existing research.


In the UK, members of eedNET provide training and support in teacher researcher methodologies.

LLEAP Guide – Growing Ideas through Evidence

Expansive Education continues to develop in Australia. In this wonderful new LLEAP guide for schools, not for profits, philanthropy and business, Michelle Anderson and Emma Curtin make a powerful case for the ways in which teachers can notice the impact of their pedgaogy on learners more effectively. Their Evidence and Approaches Stimulus Tool (EAST) is a really useful practical way in which schools, with their partners, can evaluate impact. As Bill Lucas says in his Foreword: ‘Expansive educators see it as part of their job to make
evaluation a normal part of their role and it is our hope that EAST, along with the cases, make a helpful contribution to this process. Across the world we are realising the importance of using evidence in leading innovation and improvement.


Abeerdeen University: The LOCIT process, critical incidents and learning moments



The LOCIT process is an inclusive approach involving teachers and their learners in constructing a shared understanding of successful learning.  The principles of the LOCIT process (Lesson Observation and Critical Incident Technique, Coyle and Wiesemes: 2008) start with an analysis of ‘lived though’ lessons by both learners and teachers, using ‘playback’ reflection and critical incident technique (CIT). For Tripp (1993:8) critical incidents are

…not ‘things’ which exist independently of an observer and are awaiting discovery like gold nuggets or desert islands, but like all data [..] are created. Incidents happen, but critical incidents are created by the way we look at a situation […..] an interpretation of the significance of an event. To take something as a critical incident is a value judgement we make, and the basis of that judgement is the significance we attach to the meaning of the incident.

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3 case studies to stimulate your own thinking and reflection about science learning in your school.

The Science Leaders Innovation Cluster in Stockport provide insight into enriching the primary science curriculum. Read 3 case studies of the impact of outdoors, responsive assessment and developing personal capabilities on children’s learning in science.

How can we encourage the development of scientific enquiry skills in primary schools?
Stockport CS All Saints.pdf

If we focus on improving personal skills in science lessons, will it improve learning outcome?
Stockport CS Orrishmore & Bradshaw.pdf

What does a responsive, child-focused planning and assessment framework for Primary Science look like?
Stockport Great Moor Infants School.pdf

Teachers as researchers

Adapted from an article for the Secondary English Magazine

(Vol 10 No 1 Oct 2006)

Caroline Daly, Institute of Education University of London

Teachers as researchers

What should inform the decisions made by teachers about how to develop their practice? If teachers are to make informed decisions, we need to ask – informed by whom? How can teachers inform themselves and each other about good ideas for developing teaching, and reflect more critically on the skills they use everyday in their own classrooms?

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An A – Z Guide to Primary Science Active Teaching And Learning Approaches In Science

by Dr Lynne Bianchi & Rosemary Feasey
Sheffield Hallam University – Centre for Science Education

This booklet has been produced to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the original Active Teaching and Learning Project (ATLAS) which drew upon the expertise, experience and advice of teachers and educators from around the country in 1986. Much has changed in science education since then, yet many things have stayed the same.

Click here to preview

To obtain a full copy please e-mail Dr. Bianchi –

How learners can use analogies to help them learn abstract science concepts

This month we feature a research paper by Kirk Dorion (University of Cambridge) exploring how learners can use analogies to help them learn abstract science concepts.

When learners try to explain difficult concepts – perhaps in relation to materials or systems –  they often ascribe human motivations and characteristics to those phenomena. In science, for example, students talk of particles ‘dancing’, ‘jumping’, or ‘battling’.

The idea that nuclei are the ‘brains’ of an atom, or particles ‘want’ to move around, are examples ofanthropomorphic analogies. But despite a tendency for educators to avoid encouragement of anthropomorphic thinking, evidence suggests that such thinking is useful.

Summary of the research

The trend in education has been to caution against teaching that promotes anthropomorphic thinking because it has been considered indicative of immature thinking in learners.

Recent research suggests, however, that it is degree of knowledge – not age – that is linked to learners’ tendencies to use anthropomorphism.

An expansive view of education would believe that:

·         Our focus is on enhancing learning.

·         Anthropomorphic thinking can help learners when they are faced with lack of understanding or inability to recall prior knowledge.

·         Encouraging its use is, therefore, a positive step teachers can take.

·         Rather than avoiding using anthropomorphic causal explanations through fear that students may embrace errant anthropomorphic thinking rather than scientific reasoning, anthropomorphic models should be embraced as valuable tools for helping learners.
This study – focusing on 11-15 year old chemistry students in the UK – found that students used anthropomorphism in the initial stages of learning about a concept. Rather than being a cause for concern, this type of thinking then reduced naturally as students’ understanding of a science topic improved.

Carefully considered anthropomorphic thinking may help:

  • promote conceptual development in secondary students.
  • engage girls in ccience by humanising approaches to scientific reasoning.
  • when availability or accessibility of knowledge is limited – such as when students have less time to think and give more scientific explanations.
  • as an initial explanation (‘first heuristic’).
  • learning of abstract concepts.
  • as a ‘placeholder’ expression for a gap in understanding. Rather than stumbling over aspects of a concept that they don’t fully understand, it allows students to ‘live with’ gaps in their knowledge by allowing their own narratives of a process to flow until they were able to piece together the entire concept.

In practice:

·         some teachers use drama, mime, imagination, or role-play simulations to create dynamic models of such phenomena as electric   circuits or neurons.

·         This approach, and others, that allow students to draw on their own personal experience is beneficial because it enables students to co-construct their own initial scientific models.
Read the full paper
The full paper “A learner’s tactic: how secondary students’ anthropomorphic language may support learning of abstract science concepts” is available to read on