The learning sciences in Initial Teacher Education - responding to the Core Content Framework

McMahon, K, Howarth, L, McKay, D, Lee, A, Asprey, E, Arblaster, E and Barber, K (2021) The learning sciences in Initial Teacher Education - responding to the Core Content Framework. In: Teacher Education Advancement Network (TEAN) Conference, 6 - 7 May 2021, University of Cumbria, UK [online].

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The new ITT Core Content Framework (DfE 2019a) and the Early Career Framework (DfE 2019b) have all been informed by the ‘Learning Sciences’, particularly by cognitive neuropsychology with an emphasis on learning as memory. This provides an urgency for ITE providers to address scientific accounts of learning in their programmes. We see this as a provocation for critical thought and an opportunity to support our trainees in becoming ‘reflective professionals’ rather than ‘executive technicians’ (Winch et al. 2015). In this session, we shared the approach we are taking at Bath Spa University through our ‘Learning Sciences in ITE’ project (funded by The Wellcome Trust). We are taking a Design-Based Research (DBR) approach to the project. DBR involves cyclical processes of design, trial, feedback and reflection in a real-life context. (e.g. Anderson & Shattuck, 2012). To date, we have developed a package of open access resources to critically engage trainee teachers with ideas from the learning sciences such as challenging VAK and considering retrieval practice (available at: By taking this approach we reduced and unsettled trainee belief in neuromyths and successfully positioned the trainees as ‘critical consumers’ of neuroscience (McMahon, Yeh & Etchells 2019). We are maintaining this emphasis on critical research literacy and some neuromyth busting, but moving on to look at the learning sciences as another lens through which we can view learning and pedagogy. We shared how the rationale for our approach emerged from education tutors in collaboration with colleagues in biological and neuropsychology (McMahon & Etchells, 2018). We have looked within and beyond the ITT Core Content Framework to identify and select key ideas from the science of learning and map these across the primary ITE curriculum.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Discussion section: An open-minded, but critical approach to the learning sciences is needed, and this presents intellectual and practical challenges for ITE. Participants were invited to share current practice and to engage in discussion of the issues and tensions in finding a place for the learning sciences in ITE. Key discussion questions were: What are we doing already? What are the main issues for our institutions? What further resources/guidance would be helpful?

Keywords: Core Content Framework, Initial Teacher Education, ITE, the learning sciences, cognitive psychology
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions: School of Education
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Research in Scientific and Technological Education
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2022 12:49
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2022 12:49
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