The 'BrainCanDo' Handbook of Teaching and Learning : Practical Strategies to Bring Psychology and Neuroscience into the Classroom book cover
1st Edition

The 'BrainCanDo' Handbook of Teaching and Learning
Practical Strategies to Bring Psychology and Neuroscience into the Classroom

ISBN 9780367187057
Published June 29, 2020 by David Fulton Publishers
262 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The 'BrainCanDo' Handbook of Teaching and Learning provides teachers and school leaders with a concise summary of how some of the latest research in educational neuroscience and psychology can improve learning outcomes. It aims to create a mechanism through which our growing understanding of the brain can be applied in the world of education. Subjects covered include memory, social development, mindsets and character.

Written by practising teachers working in collaboration with researchers, the chapters provide a toolkit of practical ideas which incorporate evidence from psychology and neuroscience into teaching practice with the aim of improving educational outcomes for all. By increasing both teachers’ and pupils’ understanding of the developing brain, ‘BrainCanDo’ aims to improve cognitive performance and attainment, foster a love of learning and enable a healthy and productive approach to personal development.

This book will appeal to educators, primarily those working in secondary schools, but also those within higher and primary school education. It will also be of interest to students of education, professionals looking to enhance their teaching and researchers working in the fields of education, psychology and neuroscience.

Table of Contents

About the Editors and Contributors


Michael Thomas

Introduction: The BrainCanDo Approach to Teaching and Learning

Julia Harrington, Jonathan Beale, Amy Fancourt and Catherine Lutz

Part 1: Controversies and Applications

Chapter 1: Educational Neuroscience and Educational Neuroscientism

Jonathan Beale

Chapter 2: How BrainCanDo has been Applied at Queen Anne’s School

Gill Little

Part 2: Becoming a Successful Learner

Chapter 3: Developing Character Education in Schools: An Evidence-based Approach

Iro Konstantinou and Jonnie Noakes

Chapter 4: The Impact of Working Memory and Learning Difficulties in the Classroom

Amy Fancourt and Joni Holmes

Part 3: Motivation

Chapter 5: Motivational Contagion in Education

Laura Burgess, Patricia Riddell and Kou Murayama

Chapter 6: Mindset and Motivation: An Introduction to Potential Influences on Academic Achievement

Catherine Lutz

Chapter 7: Using an Executive Function-focused Approach to Build Self-regulation, Metacognition and Motivation in All Learners

Laurie Faith, Bettina Hohnen, Victoria Bagnall and Imogen Moore-Shelley

Part 4: Well-being

Chapter 8: Sleepy Teens in the Classroom

Frances Le Cornu Knight

Chapter 9: Gratitude, Subjective Well-being and Prosociality: Implications for Adolescence and Education

Sarah A. Buckingham and Joseph O. L. Buckingham

Part 5: Subject-specific Research

Chapter 10: Brain and Cognitive Development During Adolescence: Implications for Science and Mathematics Education

Annie Brookman-Byrne and Iroise Dumontheil

Chapter 11: The Impact of Music on Adolescents’ Cognitive and Socio-emotional Learning

Daniel Müllensiefen and Peter Harrison


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Julia Harrington is headmistress at Queen Anne’s School and founder and chief executive officer of BrainCanDo. She has featured in and been interviewed by publications and media outlets including the Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the BBC.

Jonathan Beale is researcher-in-residence at Eton College, a research fellow for BrainCanDo and head of public speaking at Queen Anne’s School. He is the co-editor of two books for Routledge: Wittgenstein and Scientism (2017) and Wittgenstein and Contemporary Moral Philosophy (forthcoming - 2022). He has published articles on philosophy and education in journals and media outlets, including the New York Times.

Amy Fancourt is head of psychology at Queen Anne’s School and director of research for BrainCanDo. She has published articles on psychology and education in journals, including Nature Scientific Reports, Frontiers, Psychomusicology, Impact and Mind, Brain and Education, and in media outlets, including the Times.

Catherine Lutz is training and development manager for BrainCanDo and a PhD candidate in psychology at the University of Essex, writing a doctoral thesis on the theme of the motivational role of pregame speeches in relation to elite athletic performance.


BrainCanDo aims to develop an educational approach informed by the latest evidence in educational neuroscience and psychology. What impressed me most… in this volume, is the commitment of BrainCanDo to leverage the latest research in the learning sciences into practical strategies to improve teaching. What most sets this volume apart from others in the field is its focus on adolescence. The second crucial strength of this volume is how it encourages a culture of research – that at all levels of education, teaching should be informed by evidence.

Michael S. C. Thomas, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Birkbeck, University of London and Director of the University of London Centre for Educational Neuroscience.

Undeniably, the work they have accomplished is deeply impressive. The opportunities they have created for their staff to work on research projects with researchers of international standing is admirable and there is much we can draw from their descriptions of gains in learning their students have made.

Megan Dixon, TES

The ‘BrainCanDo’ Handbook of Teaching and Learning is incredibly rooted in evidence and might be one of the most research-informed books we have ever come across.