The SLRC research model

Applying neuroscience, cognitive psychology and education, the Science of Learning Research Centre has developed, and is further developing, strategies for learning, evaluating existing strategies and creating a powerful narrative about the brain in learning. The development of new techniques to accurately measure learning, both qualitatively and quantitatively, is essential for studying the learning process and the development and validation of practices that promote learning.

SLRC research is formed into seven research programs linked across three multi-disciplinary themes: understanding learning, measuring learning and promoting learning which feed into and off each other. (circular graphic – page 17 of 2015 annual report)


Understanding Learning. Theme leader Professor Ottmar Lipp, Curtin University

Learning is the process by which we acquire new knowledge, skills or behaviours and underpins all aspects of education. Understanding the learning process is essential for developing new learning strategies in a targeted fashion. SLRC research provides new knowledge that forms a basis for the validation of existing learning strategies, the development of novel strategies and the development of tools to measure learning. For example, knowledge of how students process feedback in interactive digital leaning environments will allow for the development of more effective digital learning software. Researchers in the Centre are using a vast range of approaches to better understand the learning process, ranging from investigating cellular mechanisms and cell circuits that mediate learning in rodents to Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the in situ monitoring of physiological changes in students and teachers during a lesson.


Measuring Learning. Theme Leader – Dr Mike Timms, Australian Council for Educational Research

The development of new techniques for accurately measuring learning, both qualitatively and quantitatively, is essential for studying the learning process and in the development and validation of practices that promote learning. While traditional measurement of learning tends to focus on evidence of competency in the domain being taught, the work of the SLRC focuses on the learning process itself and the learner characteristics and behaviours that determine success or present barriers to success in learning.  Research projects across the Centre are working on ways to measure learning as it happens, in a dynamic way both in the classroom and during learning in digital environments.


Promoting Learning. Theme Leader – Professor John Hattie, The University of Melbourne

The ultimate goal of the SLRC is to improve learning outcomes by developing tools and strategies that promote learning in formal and informal settings. Through a better understanding of the learning process, it is possible to direct the development of more effective approaches to learning. Improved and novel measurement tools will ensure the robustness of these new strategies.

The seven programs of research cover aspects of learning from the perspectives of students, teachers and the system as a whole. (graphic here from page 21 of the annual report)

The SLRC’s seven research programs are:
The learning process

    • State of the learner
    • Role of feedback and reinforcement
    • Attention and self-regulation
    • Stages of Learning

Incorporating learning process into practice

    • Indigenous learning
    • Learning in digital environments
    • Instructional practice