2nd Edition

The Science of Learning 99 Studies That Every Teacher Needs to Know

By Edward Watson, Bradley Busch Copyright 2021
    250 Pages 115 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 115 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Supporting teachers in the quest to help students learn as effectively and efficiently as possible, The Science of Learning translates 99 of the most important and influential studies on the topic of learning into accessible and easily digestible overviews. Building on the bestselling original book, this second edition delves deeper into the world of research into what helps students learn, with 22 new studies covering key issues including cognitive-load theory, well-being and performing well under exam pressure.

    Demystifying key concepts and translating research into practical advice for the classroom, this unique resource will increase teachers’ understanding of crucial psychological research so they can help students improve how they think, feel and behave in school. From large- to small-scale studies, from the quirky to the iconic, the book breaks down complicated research to provide teachers with the need-to-know facts and implications of each study. Each overview combines graphics and text, asks key questions, describes related research and considers implications for practice. Highly accessible, each overview is attributed to one of seven key categories:

    • Memory: increasing how much students remember
    • Mindset, motivation and resilience: improving persistence, effort and attitude
    • Self-regulation and metacognition: helping students to think clearly and consistently
    • Student behaviours: encouraging positive student habits and processes
    • Teacher attitudes, expectations and behaviours: adopting positive classroom practices
    • Parents: how parents’ choices and behaviours impact their childrens’ learning
    • Thinking biases: avoiding faulty thinking habits that get in the way of learning

    A hugely accessible resource, this unique book will support, inspire and inform teaching staff, parents and students, and those involved in leadership and CPD.

    About the authors

    Foreword from the first edition – John Hattie

    How teachers use it



    1 The one about memory

    2 The one about aspirations and expectations

    3 The one about the planning fallacy

    4 The one about spacing your learning

    5 The one about growth mindset

    6 The one about predicting future behaviour

    7 The one about teacher mindset

    8 The one about teenagers and social rejection

    9 The one about teacher expectations

    10 The one about IQ and success

    11 The one about parents and grades

    12 The one about student resilience

    13 The one about marshmallows and self-control

    14 The one about mindset and purpose

    15 The one about spacing and interleaving

    16 The one about parental views on failure

    17 The one about revising to music

    18 The one about the Dunning-Kruger effect

    19 The one about parental praise

    20 The one about effort being contagious

    21 The one about teacher evaluation

    22 The one about talent bias

    23 The one about retrieval practice

    24 The one about thought suppression

    25 The one about effective feedback

    26 The one about motivating bored students

    27 The one about self-analysis over time

    28 The one about asking why

    29 The one about sleep

    30 The one about mobile phones

    31 The one about marshmallows, reliability and self-control

    32 The one about note-taking

    33 The one about Impostor Syndrome

    34 The one about reading out loud

    35 The one about eating breakfast

    36 The one about streaming

    37 The one about academic buoyancy

    38 The one about the spotlight effect

    39 The one about resilience

    40 The one about phones and sleep

    41 The one about pictures and words

    42 The one about teaching others

    43 The one about experts overclaiming

    44 The one about the Köhler effect

    45 The one about the IKEA effect

    46 The one about parental beliefs

    47 The one about motivation

    48 The one about student daydreaming

    49 The one about banning mobile phones

    50 The one about going for a walk

    51 The one about stress mindsets

    52 The one about how to give better feedback

    53 The one about self-talk

    54 The one about parents and reading

    55 The one about the seduction of neuroscience

    56 The one about deadlines, choice and procrastination

    57 The one about smart reputations

    58 The one about emotions and achievement

    59 The one about interacting with nature

    60 The one about stress and uncertainty

    61 The one about metacognition

    62 The one about helping disadvantaged students

    63 The one about picturing the process

    64 The one about what teachers say

    65 The one about parental warmth

    66 The one about how much we forget

    67 The one about homework

    68 The one about mindset, attitude and self-esteem

    69 The one about pre-questions

    70 The one about the learning style myth

    71 The one about eating dinner together

    72 The one about electronic note taking

    73 The one about the bandwagon effect

    74 The one about struggling scientists

    75 The one about effective teachers

    76 The one about retrieval practice and stress

    77 The one about false confidence

    78 The One About Sound In PowerPoints

    79 The One About Identifying Expert Teachers

    80 The One About Reading and Background Noise

    81 The One About Transitioning to Secondary School

    82 The One About Drawing for Learning

    83 The One About Effective Teacher-Student Interactions

    84 The One About How Metacognition Helps

    85 The One About Parental Involvement

    86 The One About Bad Decision Making

    87 The One About Age and Self-Concept

    88 The One About Self-Regulated Learning

    89 The One About Cognitive Load

    90 The One About The Effects of Screen Time

    91 The One About Perfect Multiple-Choice Tests

    92 The One About Parents And Sleep

    93 The One About Classroom Decorations

    94 The One About Summer Learning Loss

    95 The One About Knowing The End Is Near

    96 The One About Interleaving and Discrimination Learning

    97 The One About How Teachers Give Feedback

    98 The One About The Peak End Effect

    99 The One About The Importance of Failing


    Tips for improving memory

    Tips for improving mindset, motivation and resilience

    Tips for improving self-regulation and metacognition

    Tips for students

    Tips for teachers' attitudes, expectations and behaviours 

    Tips for parents

    Tips for overcoming thinking biases

    When The Science of Learning Meets the Art Of Teaching

    When the science of learning meets the art of teaching

    Retrieval Practice

    Creating a Growth Culture

    Developing Independent Learners

    Managing Mobile Phones

    Mastering Your Classroom

    A Home Environment That Aids Learning

    Improving Self Awareness Through Self-Reflection

    Reference List


    Edward Watson is the founder of InnerDrive, UK.

    Bradley Busch is a chartered psychologist at InnerDrive, UK

    Reviews from Teachers Using the Book

    "No resource is perfect for all contexts, but the well-thumbed and annotated copies of this book lying around our schools is evidence that, in our context, giving every teacher a copy has been beneficial."

    George Casley, CATS College London

    "I’ve used The Science of Learning extensively when leading on Teaching and Learning at West Coventry Academy. I produced readers of key studies for teachers and based a lot of the whole-school CPD sessions I designed around the accessible, easily digestible infographics and summaries"

    Bertram Richter, Coventry Academy

    "As a CPD lead in the school, I have been able to refer back to the book to create resources for CPD sessions and foster meaningful conversations and discussions between the teachers in the school."

    Brad Williams, Co-op Academy, Walkden

    Reviews from the 1st Edition:

    ‘This is the book I have been waiting for. Ever since I first started working with teachers on preservice and inservice programs (US) and teacher training and inset courses (UK) in the 1980s, I wished there were a book that presented seminal studies in education and psychology in an accessible way, and drawing out implications for practice. This is it. In this wonderfully readable book, Bradley Busch and Edward Watson present 77 key studies from education and psychology, spanning over 60 years that every teacher should know about. Whether you are just beginning as a teacher, or a seasoned veteran, there will be something here that will be directly relevant to your practice, and, perhaps more importantly, will make you think. Highly recommended.’

    Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at UCL, UK

    ‘This book will prove irresistible to anyone keen to understand more about essential educational research findings in the most accessible manner possible. The authors identify the most influential and important findings of research relating to key issues in classrooms such as effective teaching, student behaviours, the impact of family and practice that develops skilled learners. Busch & Watson offer a concise, punchy and engaging resource for everyone seeking to help children and young people learn in the most effective way. An absolute must for every school.’

    Professor Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive at The Chartered College of Teaching, UK

    The Science of Learning is a timely and precious gift to teachers. We know that research and evidence, used well, are vital complements to teachers’ experience and professional judgement, but finding the most relevant research, understanding what it shows, and knowing how to implement these findings accurately can be really tricky. No wonder that despite the burgeoning interest in research among teachers there is still limited application of research in teachers’ practice. This book provides an appealing and trustworthy solution: a range of fascinating studies – from large-scale and replicated to small and quirky – has been selected and their findings summarised with brilliant clarity. The discussions are brief but nuanced, and the sections on ‘classroom implications’ offer thoughtful suggestions about how this knowledge can inform teachers’ practice. The explanations are simple but not simplistic – a remarkable achievement. Interpreting research accurately and applying it intelligently are not easy tasks. This book has made them far easier. Every teacher should be given a copy.’

    Jonnie Noakes, Head of Teaching and Learning at Eton College, UK

    ‘This is the educational research book I have been waiting for!

    As a profession, it is important that we are evidence-informed so that our most precious resource – time – is well spent on activities that will have the most impact on learning and progress for our students. But we are caught in the catch-22 scenario of not having enough time to engage fully with the research studies themselves. Add to this the problems of academic paywalls, complex and frequently impenetrable presentation and language style, and the sheer volume of educational research available, and the opportunity cost becomes too high for a busy teacher to read the journal articles that might just help them be more effective.

    Fortunately, Busch and Watson have the solution in this instantly-accessible summary of 77 vital research studies that every teacher should know. The vibrant, infographic-style presentation leaps off the page, and the structure of the book lends itself to browsing and dipping in-and-out rather than cover-to-cover reading. You can digest the key findings from an important study in just a few minutes – ideal for a busy teacher, whether in training, in the first few years of their career or wearing the badge of experience.

    The studies themselves are well-chosen, covering the fields of memory, motivation and metacognition as well as behaviour, bias and parenting. The interleaved structure encourages the reader to see the connections between the studies too, building up a coherent overall picture of what might, actually, work in the classroom.

    Busch and Watson have come up with that rarity: an educational must-read. I will be recommending it to every teacher I know!’

    Chris Hildrew, Headteacher at Churchill Academy, UK

    ‘Two key questions facing classroom teachers today are firstly, what research do I need to know? and secondly, how can I use it in my classroom? This book is a highly practicable guide to the often impenetrable field of education research and is a very useful compass for school leaders, classroom teachers and parents alike in seeking which evidence-based strategies to implement.’

    Carl Hendrick, author of What Does This Look Like in the Classroom?, UK

    ‘Like me, I trust you will enjoy reading, dipping into, thinking about, following up, questioning and asking for more – as you touch this book. This is my ‘book of the decade’.’

    John Hattie, Laureate Professor at Melbourne University, Australia

    ‘The presentation of the topics in 77 succinct sections make this a really accessible, easy to use book. It's not daunting to just tackle one topic at a time, and in total the articles add up to really practical and useful knowledge, presented clearly.’

    Sarah Brew, Parents in Touch

    ‘If you’re a teacher who wants to find out about many interesting findings from educational research, without having to spend precious free periods or leisure time looking for it, you should buy this book. And if you’re a team leader, buying a copy for each member of your team would not be a bad investment – especially if you used selected studies as the basis for team discussions.’

    Terry Freedman, Schools Week

    ‘This is a really excellent resource for the busy teacher, education student or study support tutor with plenty of food for thought and easy to understand classroom or teaching suggestions.’

    Jan Beechey MCILIP, Dyslexia Review