Friday, 2 Aug 2013


Harnessing brain research to improve teaching and learning  

ACER Research Conference 2013

2 August 2013:  Advances in teaching effectiveness will depend on better scientific understandings of basic learning processes, delegates to a conference in Melbourne next week will hear.

The theme of the annual conference of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), which opens on Sunday, is How the Brain Learns: What lessons are there for teaching?

ACER chief executive, Professor Geoff Masters, said this year’s research conference will highlight the need for long-term collaboration between educational practitioners and researchers in neuroscience, psychology and education to ensure that our developing understanding of how the brain learns informs educational practice.

“A deeper understanding of basic learning processes has the potential to inform educational practice in much the same way that a deeper understanding of biological processes has informed medical practice,” Professor Masters said.  

Professor Masters said that advances in the science of learning would occur through a two-way interaction between basic science and educational practice.

“Often we know what works long before we know why it works. For example, Hippocrates discovered that powder from the bark of a willow tree would relieve headaches, but it took 2300 years to isolate the active ingredient, aspirin, and to understand the mechanism through which it operates. In coming decades, we can expect to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms that underpin successful learning and effective teaching – in other words, a better understanding of why some practices are more effective than others.”

Keynote speakers at Research Conference 2013 include:

  • Dr Bruno della Chiesa, Harvard University, USA;
  • Dr Paul Howard-Jones, University of Bristol, UK;
  • Ms Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, Arrowsmith Program, Canada; and
  • Professor John Hattie, University of Melbourne.

The conference also will hear from leading Australian researchers in neuroscience, psychology and education over the two-day meeting. Presenters will discuss the implications of our emerging understanding of the brain and basic learning processes for learning in the early years year of life, during adolescence and throughout adulthood.

Research Conference 2013 takes place in Melbourne from 4 to 6 August.

Further information is available from   


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Steve Holden, ACER Corporate Communications Manager

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m: 0419 340 058