Applying the self in education
Self Lab research has shows that including self-referent cues like one’s own name, self-owned items or even the pronoun ‘you’ in educational materials can have a significant effect on attention and memory. As a result, self-referencing can improve children’s performance on classroom tasks.
Links to our published academic research in this area are here:
- Cunningham, S. J., Ahmed, Z., March, J., Golden, K., Wilks, C., Ross, J., McLean, J. F. (2023). Put you in the problem: Effects of self-pronouns on mathematical problem solving –Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
- Cunningham, S. J., Scott, L., Hutchison, J., Ross, J. & Martin, D. (2018). Applying self-processing biases in education: Improving learning through ownership – Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.
- Turk, D. J., Gillespie-Smith, K., McGowan, L., Havard, C., Conway, M. A., Krigolson, & Cunningham, S. J. (2015). Selfish learning: The impact of self-referential encoding on children’s literacy attainment – Learning & Instruction.
Resources designed for teachers and educators are listed below.
The reported research and resources are part of a recently-completed project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) UK (ES/T000465/1), whose support we gratefully acknowledge.
Free CPD resources for educators
We are leading research into the positive effects of self-processing biases on children’s learning so can advise on strategies and methodologies to improve children’s task engagement and performance, by capitalising on self-cues.
We offer free in-person and online Continuing Professional Development workshops, including twilight and in-service sessions in schools.
For more details, or to arrange a workshop, please contact Prof Sheila Cunningham:
Activity booklets for children
We have made resource packs including pupil worksheets and accompanying teacher booklets. The pupil worksheets contain fun self-referencing activities covering numeracy, learning and engagement, that are freely available as classroom or homework activities. The teacher booklet provides explanations and links to underpinning research articles, as well as answer sheets for the pupil activities.
Two versions have been created of the resource pack, suitable for children aged approximately 6-8 years and 9-11 years respectively. These can be accessed using the thumbnails below:
We have also produced an article and activity sheet for teachers and educators in collaboration with Futurum Careers, who produce a magazine aimed at encouraging 14-19-year-olds worldwide to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEM), and social sciences, humanities and the arts for people and the economy (SHAPE). Futurum’s educational resources are sent to tens of thousands of schools and teachers worldwide in the form of their magazine, which can be accessed free online.
Resources for children
This video can be used to show children what self-referencing is, and why it supports
Printed versions of the information leaflets below can be provided to schools and educators on request.