The science of learning NE709

What is learning? Improve the way you support your students to achieve their potential by exploring the science of learning.


Online course. Flexible participation. Guided by Professor Paul Howard-Jones (The Secret Life of Four and Five Year Olds) and Professor Tim Jay, develop an understanding of the science of learning and discuss its impact on your teaching. Draw upon educational neuroscience and psychology to help you interpret student learning and behaviour in your classroom.

You'll be supported to reflect on your practice, to improve, to better justify your approach and be better informed about how students learn. Your students will benefit from your improved understanding of the plasticity of the brain, or with exposure to some of the ideas in the course, will be better placed themselves to understand their own learning potential.

By participating on this course you'll be expected to discuss your insights with colleagues, in particular combating neuroscience myths and being better placed to justify why certain teaching approaches are effective.

Ultimately, you will address the question: What is learning?

Course content

  • Learning to learn: the first week introduces the science of learning, busting myths and providing a scientific basis for understanding what’s happening in your classroom. The engage-build-consolidate model will be introduced and revisited throughout the course.
  • Engagement for learning: consider the effects of praise, rewards, novelty and anxiety on the learning process. 
  • Construction: the science behind drawing upon prior knowledge, how new learning is encoded in the brain in a multisensory way and the impact of body language.
  • Consolidation of learning: the relationship between working memory and long-term memory, how learning is consolidated through different contexts and the role of sleep.
  • Plasticity: the plasticity of the brain and the roles students and teachers play in shaping it.

Learning online

This course takes around three hours per week to complete. You can choose when and where to participate, studying around your work and life commitments. You are supported and encouraged to discuss your ideas with fellow teachers, try out activities, apply concepts to your teaching context and reflect on your practice. You will have access to high-quality resources, including guidance from experts in STEM education and the science of learning.

Course availability and support

This course is supported by subject experts and mentors for five weeks from the course start date. During the supported period you have the opportunity to ask the course educators directly and discuss your ideas with many other participants. After the supported period, the course is available to join for a further six weeks without mentor support.

This course is free to access on FutureLearn for seven weeks from the point you join the course. Ongoing access to the course content and discussions is available by upgrading with FutureLearn after you start the course.


You will be able to:

  • explore how the science of learning applies to your classroom to provide insight into how your students learn and their learning potential
  • develop your approach to engaging students with their learning
  • apply an understanding of what is happening in the brain to improve your students’ longer term memory and retrieval of knowledge
  • discuss and articulate your teaching and learning choices with your colleagues
  • engage in action research and collaborate with researchers in the science of learning


The email address you give when you apply will be used to send you joining instructions and information about your course. Please make sure you can be contacted directly with this email address.

This course is hosted on the FutureLearn social learning platform. In booking on this course you are consenting to your details being shared by the with FutureLearn under these terms & conditions. By accepting the National STEM Learning Centre’s invitation to register on this course (joining instructions), you agree that your information will be held by FutureLearn and National STEM Learning Centre as data controllers in common.

Before applying click here to read booking Terms and Conditions

Scheduled dates

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