Science of Learning Research Centre

SLRC website

The objectives of the Science of Learning Centre are to identify, research and understand effective teaching and learning practices in the light of current knowledge about basic learning processes and factors that influence successful human learning. The Centre also aims to advance research into, and knowledge about, learning itself.

The Science of Learning Centre is a collaboration between two of Australia’s leading research institutes, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI).

The Centre brings together research from several disciplines, including neuroscience, psychology, and education. Research in each of these disciplines contributes to a deeper understanding of learning processes and to a better understanding of ways to support successful school learning. The Centre also employs state-of-the-art brain imaging technology and modelling techniques to synthesise the results across the disciplines. These different but complementary research activities will be essential to investigating and understanding the complexities of classroom learning.

At a fine-grain level, research in neuroscience will explore how learning leads to changes in the structure of brain cells and in the manner in which cells interact in brain circuits. At an intermediate level, research in psychology and cognitive neuroscience will explore how learning is associated with changes in simple behaviours and motivation that are reflected in changes in neural activity in the brain. And at the most global level, educational research will explore learning as the acquisition of complex knowledge and skills and resultant changes in observable behaviour.

The Centre’s research program will explore these different aspects of learning simultaneously, involving a range of researchers, tools and techniques from across the research spectrum.

In 2013 the Science of Learning Centre was part of a consortium awarded $16 million over four years from the Australian Research Council for a Science of Learning Research Centre.

NAPLAN improvement

The SLRC has trained more than 1200 teachers, including in a numeracy intervention program in the Port Augusta–Quorn region of South Australia. In collaboration with the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development, researchers worked closely with teachers to reduce student anxiety about maths, leading to improved NAPLAN scores in the region.

SLRC website