Mike Hobbiss

PhD Student, University College London

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Jun 24, 2019
Replying to Brett Hollingshead

Bravo Mike Hobbiss thank you and well wishes. One follow up question: how many multiple overlapping partial representations are required for learning? Depending on emotional flavour, perhaps just one? If so, do you suspect emotional flavour is the salient mechanism for how teacher/student connection impacts learning, for example through fewer necessary overlapping partial representations? 

Hi Brett. Thanks for the comment and it's an interesting question. Emotion is undoubtedly something that affects the formation of memory representations. The classic example would be flashbulb memories (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashbulb_memory), where in emotionally-charged situations we form detailed memory representations from only one exposure. HOWEVER... How this translates into education I'm not sure. Clearly we can't go around trying to create a series of flashbulb memories in children - creating lots of stressful events and hope that they associate their school work with them! 

I have seen people criticise the school curriculum for being 'emotionally flat' - which presumably is the sort of thing that you are also thinking about in your comment. But what would an 'emotionally-charged' curriculum look like? How would we teach in an 'emotional' way? I'm not sure it's possible really, in terms of the day to day reality of the classroom. Clearly, a good relationship with the teacher is important for learning... but this is true for everyone and I'm not sure it impacts on the idea of multiple partial representations really.

Dec 27, 2017
Replying to Jay Somasundaram

Education is an applied science. It applies the pure sciences of cognitive psychology and neuroscience.  Just as students in the applied science of engineering need to study physics and chemistry, education students need to take several semesters of neuroscience. Starting with a semester of neuroanatomy to master the vocabulary. That is the only way the education professional of today will be ready for the discoveries of tomorrow.


The key to "traversing the boundaries of specific subject categories" is to be an independent learner. The primary function of schools should be to ensure students leave school as independent learners, capable and willing to apply the science of learning (https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn) .

Hi Jay,

Thanks for your comment. I would certainly agree that teacher training courses would benefit from a much greater focus on the cognitive psychology of learning. Learning could be made much more efficient if applied memory principles such as spacing, interleaving and the testing effect were used as standard practice. I also agree that students themselves should be explicitly taught these techniques. Many students reach university level and beyond whilst still complaining tat they don't really feel that they understand how to effectively learn.

I'm less convinced about the value of neuroscience to everyday pedagogy, given our current level of understanding (though I do think there are exceptions, e.g. https://npjscilearncommunity.nature.com/users/33200-mike-hobbiss/posts/16652-liking-vs-wanting-a-neuroscientific-view-on-classroom-motivation). At present I think that there are very few neuroscientific findings that demonstrate clear implications for teaching practice. For example, imagine finding reduced activity in a particular brain area in a dyslexic child when reading. This doesn't actually tell us anything about what to do about this. Should we find alternative strategies that require different brain structures or intensively train this deficient skill? The finding doesn't help us choose between these opposing responses. 

Of course, as we learn more (and test predictions more in school environments), we may be more able to generalise from neuroscience to the classroom with confidence. 


Mar 19, 2017
Hi Warren, Yes that's the reference. Sorry if it wasn't clear. Mike

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