Daniel Ansari

Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario

Zach Hawes

PhD Student, Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario


Do students benefit when teachers learn more about the science of learning? Evidence from an early math professional development program

There is a growing call for translational research in the areas of psychology, cognitive neuroscience and education. In tandem, many have expressed the need for educators to have access to this information and opportunity to embed research into their practice. In this presentation we will discuss the rationale for greater integration of the science of learning into pre- and in-service teacher education and professional development. Moreover, we will present results from a recent professional development program aimed to test the hypothesis that enhancing teachers’ research literacy will affect student achievement. The PD was focused on early math and introduced teachers to peer-reviewed research on how children acquire fundamental numerical concepts (e.g. cardinality, ordinality). In addition to reading research papers, teachers were given the opportunity to discuss how the research could be translated into their practice. Importantly, we measured changes in both teacher knowledge and student achievement before and after the 4-month professional development program. In comparison to a control group that did not receive the PD, both the teacher’s knowledge and their student achievement increased significantly. We discuss the implications of these results for PD that integrates Science of Learning and outline future directions.


Daniel Ansari received his PhD from University College London in 2003. Presently, Daniel is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Brain & Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, where he heads the Numerical Cognition Laboratory. Ansari and his team explore the developmental trajectory underlying both the typical and atypical development of numerical and mathematical skills, using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods.

Zack Hawes is a 3rd year PhD student the Numerical Cognition Lab at the University of Western Ontario. His interest lie at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and education, with a particular focus on the relation between numerical and spatial thinking.