The ARC Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC), now led by Professor Pankaj Sah from The University of Queensland (UQ), brings together neuroscientists, psychologists and education researchers from across the country, collaborating on programs to better understand learning, using a range of innovative experimental techniques and programs.

Facilities at the centre include specially-designed research classrooms at UQ and The University of Melbourne. Physically structured like a conventional classroom, these revolutionary facilities offer researchers the opportunity to observe a class behind a one-way mirror and analyse classroom interactions at an unprecedented level of detail.

Lessons given in the Melbourne classroom are recorded through up to sixteen high definition video cameras and thirty-two fixed and portable microphones. The educational neuroscience classroom at UQ enables simultaneous measurement of brain activity, eye movements and physiological responses of participants, providing a truly multi-modal investigation of factors underlying successful learning.

The centre’s work is translating research into relevant, future-focused, practical information for teachers to improve learning outcomes for their students. For example, SLRC researchers, led by Professor Martin Westwell at The Flinders University of South Australia, have collaborated with teachers in public pre-school, primary and secondary schools across the Port Augusta-Quorn region, in a program designed to innovate mathematics and numeracy teaching. Their work has led to teachers reporting major shifts in students’ thinking, improved NAPLAN results and a reduction in students’ stress levels.

The SLRC has a broad national reach, with more than 100 members spread across nine Australian research organisations, as well as partnerships with three state education departments, four international universities, the Benevolent Society and Questacon in Canberra, enabling it to translate its interdisciplinary research into improved student outcomes.

Image: Using research findings to develop mathematical thinkers at Koonibba Aboriginal School, SA.
Image courtesy: Florence Gabriel / Flinders University.