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Psychology & Education

In rather general terms, a psychology-informed perspective on education is concerned with how humans learn. Learning is a complex and non-linear process of intra-individual change in mental processes (incl. thinking, remembering, and feeling) and behaviour that takes place in formal and non-formal contexts across the life span. Such processes are impacted by a wide range of person characteristics, and are facilitated through social interaction. Psychological research of learning studies the complex interplay between learner characteristics, learning content, and learning context. It develops and utilises theories and methods from cognitive, personality, social and developmental sciences but also psychometric assessment to describe and explain psychological processes related to learning with the ultimate goal of contributing to the optimisation of learning and teaching. Psychological research in education contributes to the multidisciplinary nature of education as a research field, it also helps to effectively overcome the false dichotomy of research being either basic (i.e., primarily interested in furthering our understanding and theory building) or applied (i.e., primarily interested in solving a specific problem). 

At Durham University’s School of Education research topics currently addressed in the thematic cluster Psychology & Education include but are not limited to:

  • The assessment of learning ability (Jens Beckmann)
  • Cognitive flexibility (Jens Beckmann)
  • Complex problem solving (Jens Beckmann)
  • Personality dynamics & change (Nadin Beckmann)
  • Non-intellective determinants and outcomes of learning (Nadin Beckmann)
  • Assessment and treatment of emotional and behavioural difficulties (Joe Elliott)
  • The nature of learning and cognitive disabilities and effective approaches to intervention (Joe Elliott)
  • Achievement motivation, emotion and emotion regulation (Stephanie Lichtenfeld)
  • Higher level thinking (particularly creative and critical thinking) (Lynn Newton)
  • Problem finding & problem solving (Lynn Newton)
  • Parenting and home learning environment (Xiaofei Qi) 
  • Pre-school experience and school readiness (Xiaofei Qi) 
  • Affect & learning (Julie Rattray)

For prospective supervisees at PG and PhD level: If your research interests are linked to any of those topics listed above, or if you want to find out more about these research topics, please contact the respective colleague or the cluster lead Professor Jens Beckmann via email.

Members of the cluster teach on the following courses: Foundations of Psychology in Education (level 1), Learning and Development in Childhood (level 2), The Science of Learning (level 3), Psychological Perspectives on Learning & The Psychology of the Learner (level 4)

For further information contact the cluster lead Professor Jens Beckmann.

For information about our members, see the research directory: Psychology & Education