The past, present and future of research on intergroup contact and social change


Mbesc is delighted to have  Professor John Dixon (Open University) visiting us tomorrow (29 January 2015, 2.30 PM Room 3.13, 35 Berkeley Square). Professor Dixon will be discussing the ‘contact hypothesis’ – which proposes that interaction between members of different groups reduces intergroup prejudice and discrimination, particularly when it occurs under favourable circumstances. See Events for more details!!

Mbesc welcomes Dr Shelley McKeown

M-Besc is delighted that Dr Shelley McKeown has joined the centre this term. She is going to tell us all about her research in a fascinating seminar “I may not know you but I don’t like you” this Thursday 13 November (12.30pm Room 121, 35 Berkeley Square). Shelley’s work focuses on how social psychological theories, such as social identity theory and intergroup contact theory, can be used to understand and improve intergroup relations. There’s more about this talk on our Events Page.

Myths and Messages: Nature Reviews Neuroscience

I’ve been a bit slow pasting up something about this article “Neuroscience and Education: Myths and Messages” that I authored in NRN 2 weeks ago. It created a lot of social media impact, and due to this NRN have made it free access – you just have to register. It is also featured in Nature’s October podcast (Neuropod). Another unexpected consequence of all the tweets is that The Graduate School of Education is to have an event discussing neuromyths and this is also a chance to discuss the new Neuroscience and Education projects due to start around the UK- including how schools can get involved (see the Sci-napse project for more about the Bristol-Manchester project). More info about this event will follow, but keep 27th November 5.15-17.00 in your diaries!

Funding award for whole-class gaming

We’re delighted to have won new funding for an innovative new project, investigating whether the uncertainty inherent in games can increase the rate at which children learn science. This will get underway in the South West thanks to a £650K funding boost. It’s one of six new projects funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to investigate a variety of ways neuroscience might improve teaching and learning in the UK. Paul Howard-Jones will be leading the project

More information

Congratulations to (Reader) Dr Tim Jay and all the best for Sheffield!

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Many thanks to Tim Jay, Jo Rose and Ben Simmons for a great seminar on The Everyday Maths Project yesterday – and thanks everyone for coming along. M-besc wishes Dr Tim Jay all the best for his new job (as Reader) at Sheffield University – and we’re also looking forward to carrying on working together on many projects across the internet!

Everyday Maths Project: Preliminary Findings today

29 September, 5pm – 6:30pm in room 4.10.

Dr Tim Jay, Dr Jo Rose and Dr Ben Simmons will be presenting a seminar on the content and preliminary findings of the Everyday Maths project “It’s helping your child experience the world”: How parents can use everyday activities to engage their children’s mathematical learning” on 29 September, 5pm – 6:30pm in room 4.10.

Genetics in Education – Kathryn Asbury and Nic Timpson

We had a fascinating debate about genetics and education last month when Kathryn (co-author of “G is for Genes”) and Nic Timpson (Reader in Genetic Epidemiology at Bristol) came to visit us. I asked Kathryn in the tea-break whether genetics had implications for education and what these might be:

I also managed to corner Nic with my camera and asked him whether there was such a thing as “genes for education”. Note that he’s talking about population studies here:

Some messages I took away were:

1. It’s a good time to start discussing genetic perspectives in relation to education.  We can benefit from understanding what we know and don’t know, and from trying to anticipate how genetics may impact on education in the future.

2. Genetics doesn’t currently help us diagnose or categorise/label children in terms of learning disorders, and isn’t likely to in the future. It supports the idea that we are all on a continuum.

3. It can help us understand the contribution of shared and non-shared environments in explaining the differences between children.

4. Preschool children appear particularly susceptible to their shared environment but, interestingly, significant shared environments are now emerging at Key Stage 4.

5. Although overall heritable effects are high, effects of individual candidate genes are very low. This makes headlines of a “gene for intelligence”, “gene for maths” etc rather misleading.

Interesting stuff……