A £6 million fund has been launched to support collaborative projects between educators and neuroscientists.
The aim is to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a range of neuroscience-based educational interventions.
Launched by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Wellcome Trust, the fund comes after an online survey of teachers found that many are optimistic about the potential of neuroscience to improve teaching practice in the next 10 years.
It also discovered a number of interventions already in use, such as the idea of learning styles – that different students learn best when materials are presented in different ways.
Some teachers are also using commercially developed interventions, but there is concern that many of these have little peer-reviewed evidence to show their effectiveness.
Dr Hilary Leevers, head of education and learning at the Wellcome Trust, said: “Neuroscience is an exciting field that holds a great deal of promise both for understanding how our brains work and, through application, for improving how we learn and perform. Neuroscientists and educators both recognise and wish to explore this potential.”
Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the EEF, added: “Improving our understanding of how the brain works will deepen our understanding of how pupils learn. Knowing the impact of neuroscience in the classroom will also make it easier to spot the plausible sounding fads and fakes, which don’t improve standards.
“This is essential if we are to increase the attainment of pupils, particularly those from low-income families.”
According to the EEF and the Wellcome Trust, projects that might attract funding could include systematically testing the impact of different school start times, lengths of lessons or the impact of listening to music in lessons. Proposals for funding must focus on raising attainment of pupils aged 5 to 16 in UK schools and be “supported by encouraging evidence of an impact on attainment”.
The criteria state: “We are looking for initiatives that understand what good teaching and learning looks like, and use neuroscience to enhance this.
“Projects will only be funded if there is an explicit causal hypothesis relating a finding in neuroscience to a novel intervention, not if neuroscience simply explains the basis of already established and proven education interventions.”
For more information or to apply for funding, visit http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/apply-for-funding/neuroscience-round/