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Staff Profile

Professor Steve Higgins, BA (Oxon), PGCE, PhD, FAcSS

Professor in the School of Education

Contact Professor Steve Higgins (email at


Steve Higgins is Professor of Education at Durham University.

Steve joined the School of Education in September 2006 from Newcastle University, where he was the founding Director of the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching. Before working in higher education he taught in primary schools in the North East where his interest in children’s thinking and learning developed.

His research interests include the areas of effective use of information and communications technology (ICT) and digital technologies for learning in schools, understanding how children's thinking and reasoning develops, and how teachers can be supported in developing the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms. He has a particular interest in the educational philosophy of Pragmatism and the implications for teaching and learning, particularly relating to the use of research evidence to develop practice in schools. He was a member of the TLRP/TEL-funded SynergyNet research team from 2008 -12, investigating the use of multi-touch tables in classroom learning. He has also contributed to ESRC Research Development Initiatives and the development of research capacity in Visual Methods (2006-9) and the use of meta-analysis in education research (2008-11).

He is one of the authors of the Sutton Trust/EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit and frequently gives keynote presentations and talks on the use of research evidence to support more effective spending in schools to both policy and practitioner audiences based on this work. He has an interest in developing understanding of effective use of research evidence for policy and practice.

His teaching areas include primary mathematics, the use of new and emerging technologies in education and supporting effective professional development of teachers. This is particularly using approaches which focus on the development of children's thinking, reasoning and understanding. He supervises doctoral students in these areas. Steve teaches across a number of undergraduate and post-graduate programmes including PGCE, Masters and taught doctorate programmes. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

Information for prospective doctoral research student supervisions

Steve is looking for potential doctoral students who wish to study the use of meta-analysis as a means to synthesise research evidence in education, evidence-based practice in schools, the development of trials methodology and analysis of trials data in education and the use of digital technologies for learning, particularly in schools.

Completed Supervisions (since 2008)

The Impact of the Interactive Whiteboard on Medical School Students' ESL Essay Writing

Evaluating the Effectiveness of the E-learning Experience in Some Universities in Saudi Arabia from Male Students’ Perceptions

The effectiveness of a CALL multimedia classroom on L2 learners' achievements, attitudes and the word solving strategies' frequencies and the perceptions of helpfulness, when compared with learners in traditional classrooms: A quasi-experimental study

The Effectiveness of Using E-learning, Blended Learning and Traditional Learning on Students' Achievement and Attitudes in a Course on Islamic Culture: an Experimental study

What is 'digital literacy'? A Pragmatic investigation

An Exploratory Study on the Beliefs and Practices of Teacher-Child Interactions of Selected Early Childhood Educators in Singapore

“You are too out!”: a mixed methods approach to the study of “digital divides” in three Chinese senior secondary schools.

An exploratory study of teacher orchestration of collaborative Mathematics tasks in relation to learning and interaction in primary schools.

Can Motor Skills Training ImproveAcademic Performance? A Structured Motor Skills Intervention for Young Children.

The Assessment Of A New Approach To Learning Number To Achieve Arithmetical Automaticity Based On The Use Of Dedicated Manipulatives.

An ethnographic case study of young children’s experiences of technology use at home and school

Institutional Support for Academic Staff to Adopt Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) in Saudi Arabian Universities

Investigating Academic Staff Members’ Perspectives Of The Effectiveness Of The Use Of E-learning Skills In Teaching In Saudi Arabia Universities

The Effectiveness of Instructional Video in the Acquisition of Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor Skills in Practical Sports Therapy Rehabilitation.

Investigating Developmental Trends in Metacognitive Knowledge with School-aged Children using Pupil Views Templates

Factors influencing the effective use of an online collaborative learning environment as experienced by Saudi male students in King Abdulaziz University.

Investigating younger pupils' beliefs in Cyprus on the value of classroom talk for their mathematical learning related to the use of the Interactive Whiteboard: understanding dialogic teaching.

Keynote presentations

How to give research results back to teachers? 3rd meeting of the Nordic Forum November 10th, 2016 Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitet, Emdrup, Denmark.

Using evidence from research to improve teaching and learning. Norwegian Business School, 3rd November, 2016, Nydalen, Oslo, Norway

Steve Higgins 'Technology and learning: from the past to the future’ ‘The Future of Learning, Knowledge and Skills (TULOS) Programme Launch’, Helsinki, 5th February, 2014

Steve Higgins ‘Technology trends for language teaching: looking back and to the future’ Learning and Teaching English in the Digital Age: Policy and Practice in Europe, British Council, Barcelona, 4th December, 2013

Steve Higgins ‘The Future of Collaborative Learning Strategies: Teaching Methods with Multi-Touch Technology’ Keynote presentation to the 2nd Annual Education Technology Strategies Summit Keynote, Toronto, February 28-29, 2012

Steve Higgins ‘New digital technologies and new opportunities for lifelong learning’ Keynote presentation to the Vivere E Crescere Nella Comunicazione Conference, Bressanone, Italy 16-17th December 2011

Steve Higgins How Should Education Respond To The Changing World? Tools, Technologies and Techniques For Teachers Keynote Presentation to the Finnish Education Research Association Conference, East Finland University, Joensuu, Finland 24th- 25th November 2011

Steve Higgins, Self regulation and learning: evidence from meta-analysis and from the classroom Conference Keynote for Self-Regulation and Dialogue in Primary Classrooms Psychological Aspects of Education Current Trends Conference, British Journal of Educational Psychology Conference Cambridge, June 2-3rd, 2011

Research Groups

Centre for Medical Education Research

  • Medical Education

School of Education

  • Assessment, Evaluation and Effectiveness
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy

Research Projects

School of Education

  • An Evaluation of progress towards an evidence based teaching system, including DfE’s role in facilitating progress
  • Building Capacity In Visual Methods
  • Campaign for Learning, Phase 4
  • Cross Age Peer Tutoring
  • Development of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit
  • Development of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit and NPD Analysis and Data Archive Support
  • DIY Evaluation Guide Version 3
  • Evaluation Of Next Practice Model
  • Improving Learning for Disadvantaged Learners
  • RDI In Quantitative Synthesis
  • Strategies for Improving Learning
  • SynergyNet
  • The TRECA Study : TRials Engagement in Children and Adolescents
  • Toolkit Impact in Chile

Research Interests

  • Classroom Interaction and Discourse in Primary Schools
  • Digital technologies and Learning
  • Meta-analysis and Research Evidence in Education

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Goodbourn, R., Hartley, T., Higgins, S. & Wall, K. (2009). Learning to Learn for Life 3: Research and Practical Examples for Secondary Schools. Continuum Publishing.
  • Barmby, P., Bilsborough, L., Harries, T. & Higgins, S. (2009). Primary mathematics: Teaching for understanding. Buckingham: Oxford Univesity Press.

Chapter in book

  • Higgins, S. (2017). Impact evaluation: a case study of the introduction of interactive whiteboards in schools in the UK. In Education Research: Methods and Methodologies. Coe, R., Waring, M., Hedges, L.V. & Arthur, J. London: Sage. 145-152.
  • Higgins, S. (2016). Dewey, Education, and Schooling. In John Dewey’s Democracy and Education: A British tribute. Higgins, S. & Coffield, F. London: IoE Press.
  • Higgins, S. (2016). New (and Old) Technologies for Learning: Innovation and Educational Growth. In Psicología y Educación: Presente y Futuro. Castejón Costa, J.L.(coord.). Alicante: Asociación Científica de Psicología y Educación (ACIPE). 45-52.
  • Higgins, S. (2015). A Recent History of Teaching Thinking. In The Routledge International Handbook of Research on Teaching Thinking. Wegerif, R., Li, L. & Kaufman, J. C. Routledge. 19-28.
  • Xiao, Z. & Higgins, S. (2015). When English Meets Chinese in Tibetan Schools: Towards an Understanding of Multilingual Education in Tibet. In Trilingualism in Education in China: Models and Challenges. Feng, A. & Adamson, B. Dordrecht: Springer. 117-140.
  • Higgins, S.E. (2014). Formative assessment and feedback to learners. In Proven Programs in Education: Classroom Management and Assessment. Slavin, R.E. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 11-15.
  • Higgins, S.E. (2013). Matching Style of Learning. In International Guide to Student Achievement (Educational Psychology Handbook). Hattie, J. & Anderman, E.M. London: Routledge. 337-438.
  • Higgins, S. (2013). Self regulation and learning: evidence from meta-analysis and from classrooms. In British Journal of Educational Psychology Monograph Series II: Psychological Aspects of Education - Current Trends: No. 10. Self-regulation and dialogue in primary classrooms. Whitebread, D., Mercer, N., Howe, C. & Tolmie, A. Leicester: British Psychological Society. 111-126.
  • Higgins, S.E. (2013). What can we Learn from Research? In Beyond Early Reading. Waugh, D. & Neaum, S. St. Albans: Critical Publishing Ltd.
  • Hall, E., Wall, K., Higgins, S., Stephens, L., Pooley, I & Welham, J. (2010). Learning to Learn with Parents: lessons from two research projects. In Action Research in Education: Volume 3: Key Examples of Action Research in Schools within International Settings. Campbell, A. & Groundwater-Smith, S. London: Sage Publications. 3: 121-135.
  • Barmby, P., Harries, A.V. & Higgins, S.E. (2010). Teaching for understanding/understanding for teaching. In Issues in teaching numeracy in primary schools. Thompson, I. Open University Press. 45-57.
  • Higgins, S.E. (2010). The impact of interactive whiteboards on classroom interaction and learning in primary schools in the UK. In Interactive Whiteboards for Education: Theory, Research and Practice. Thomas, M. & Cutrim-Schmid, E. Hershey, Pa: IGI Global. 86-101.
  • Higgins, S. (2008). Mathematical learning and the use of information and communications technology in the early years. In Teaching and Learning Early Number. Thompson, I. (Ed) Maidenhead: Open University Press. 214-221.

Edited book

  • Higgins, S. & Coffield, F. (2016). John Dewey’s Democracy and Education: A British tribute. London: IoE Press.
  • Passey, D. & Higgins, S. (2013). Learning platforms and learning outcomes. London: Routledge.

Journal Article

  • Xiao, Z., Higgins, S. & Kasim, A. (2017). An Empirical Unravelling of Lord’s Paradox. The Journal of Experimental Education
  • Martin-Kerry, J., Bower, P., Young, B., Graffy, J., Sheridan, R., Watt, I., Baines, P., Stones, C., Preston, J., Higgins, S., Gamble, C. & Knapp, P. (2017). Developing and evaluating multimedia information resources to improve engagement of children, adolescents and their parents with trials (TRECA study): Study Protocol for a series of linked randomised controlled trials. Trials 18: 265.
  • Cooper, D., Higgins, S. & Beckmann, N. (2017). Online instructional videos as a complimentary method of teaching practical rehabilitation skills for groups and individuals. Journal of Educational Technology Systems 45(4): 546-560.
  • Mercier, E., Vourloumi, G. & Higgins, S. (2017). Student interactions and the development of ideas in multi-touch and paper-based collaborative mathematical problem solving. British Journal of Educational Technology 48(1): 162-175.
  • Gascoine, L., Higgins, S. & Wall, K. (2017). The Assessment of Metacognition in Children Aged 4–16 years: A Systematic Review. Review of Education 5(1): 3-57.
  • Alabdulaziz, M. & Higgins, S. (2017). Understanding technology use and constructivist strategies when addressing Saudi primary students' mathematics difficulties. International Journal of Innovative Research in Science, Engineering and Technology 6(1): 105, 586-593.
  • Higgins, S. & Katsipataki, M. (2016). Communicating comparative findings from meta-analysis in educational research: some examples and suggestions. International Journal of Research & Method in Education 39(3): 237-254.
  • Tymms, P. & Higgins, S. (2016). Judging Research Papers for Research Excellence. Studies in Higher Education
  • Hung, Y.-W. & Higgins, S. (2016). Learners’ use of communication strategies in text-based and video-based synchronous computer-mediated communication environments: opportunities for language learning. Computer Assisted Language Learning 29(5): 901-924.
  • Higgins, S. (2016). Meta-synthesis and comparative meta-analysis of education research findings: some risks and benefits. Review of Education 4(1): 31-53.
  • Alabdulaziz, M. & Higgins, S. (2016). Obstacles to Technology use When Addressing Saudi Primary Students' Mathematics Difficulties. International Journal of Engineering Research and Technology 5(10): 412-417.
  • Xiao, Z., Higgins, S. & Kasim, A. (2016). Same Difference? Understanding Variation in the Estimation of Effect Sizes from Educational Trials. International Journal of Educational Research 77: 1-14.
  • Kyriakou, A. & Higgins, S. (2016). Systematic Review of the Studies Examining the Impact of the Interactive Whiteboard on Teaching and Learning: what we do learn and what we do not. Preschool and Primary Education 4(2): 254-275.
  • Mercier, Emma M., Higgins, Steven E. & Joyce-Gibbons, A. (2016). The effects of room design on computer-supported collaborative learning in a multi-touch classroom. Interactive Learning Environments 24(3): 504-522.
  • Katsipataki, M. & Higgins, S. (2016). What Works or What's Worked? Evidence from Education in the United Kingdom. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 217: 903-909.
  • Higgins, S. & Katsipataki, M. (2015). Evidence from meta-analysis about parental involvement in education which supports their children’s learning. Journal of Children's Services 10(3): 280-290.
  • Al-Shammari, M.O. & Higgins, S.E. (2015). Obstacles facing Faculty Members in the Effective Implementation of e-learning at Some Universities in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Information Technology & Computer Science 19(1): 1-12.
  • Ainsworth, H., Hewitt, C., Torgerson, C., Higgins, S., Wiggins, A. & Torgerson, D. (2015). Sources of bias in outcome assessment in randomised controlled trials: a case study. Educational Research and Evaluation 21(1): 3-14.
  • Cooper, D. & Higgins, S. (2015). The effectiveness of online instructional videos in the acquisition and demonstration of cognitive, affective and psychomotor rehabilitation skills. British journal of educational technology 46(4): 768-779.
  • Mercier, E.M. & Higgins, S.E. (2014). Creating Joint Representations of Collaborative Problem Solving with Multi-touch Technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 30(6): 497-510.
  • Higgins, S.E. (2014). Critical thinking for 21st-century education: A cyber-tooth curriculum? Prospects 14(4): 559-574.
  • Mercier, E., Higgins, S. & Da Costa, L. (2014). Different leaders: Emergent organizational and intellectual leadership in children’s collaborative learning groups. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning 9(4): 397-432.
  • Wall, K., Higgins, S., Hall, E. & Woolner, P. (2013). 'That's not quite the way we see it': the epistemological challenge of visual data. International Journal of Research & Method in Education 36(1): 3-22.
  • Mercier, E.M. & Higgins, S. (2013). Collaborative learning with multi-touch technology: Developing adaptive expertise. Learning and Instruction 25: 13-23.
  • Wall, K., Higgins, S., Remedios, R., Rafferty, V. & Tiplady, L. (2013). Comparing Analysis Frames for Visual Data Sets: Using Pupil Views Templates to explore perspectives of learning. Journal of Mixed Methods Research 7(1): 22-42.
  • Al-Qahtani, A.A.Y. & Higgins, S.E. (2013). Effects of traditional, blended and e-learning on students' achievement in higher education. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 29(3 ): 220-234.
  • Woolner, P., McCarter, S., Wall, K. & Higgins, S. (2012). Changed learning through changed space: When can a participatory approach to the learning environment challenge preconceptions and alter practice? Improving Schools 15(1): 45-60.
  • Higgins, S., Mercier, E., Burd, E. & Joyce-Gibbons, A. (2012). Multi-touch tables and collaborative learning. British Journal of Educational Technology 43(6): 1041-1054.
  • Barmby, Patrick, Bolden, David, Higgins, Steve & Tymms, Peter (2012). Predicting success on a Bachelor of Arts Primary Education degree course. Educational Research 54(3): 323-330.
  • Higgins, S., Mercier, E., Burd, E. & Hatch, A. (2011). Multi-touch tables and the relationship with collaborative classroom pedagogies: A synthetic review. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning 6(4): 515-538.
  • Albaaly, E. & Higgins, S. (2011). The impact of interactive whiteboard technology on medical students' achievement in ESL essay writing: an early study in Egypt. Language Learning Journal 40(2): 207-222.
  • Baumfield, V.M., Hall, E., Higgins, S. & Wall, K. (2009). Catalytic tools: understanding the interaction of enquiry and feedback in teachers' learning. European Journal of Teacher Education 32(4): 423-435.
  • Resing, W., Elliott, J.G. & Higgins, S.E. (2009). Reasoning in children and adolescents. Educational and Child Psychology 26(3).
  • Wall, K., Higgins, S., Glasner, E., Mahmout, U. & Gormally, J. (2009). Teacher enquiry as a tool for professional development: investigating pupils' effective talk while learning. Australian Educational Researcher 36(2): 93-117.
  • Barmby, P., Harries, T., Higgins, S. & Suggate, J. (2009). The array representation and primary children's understanding and reasoning in multiplication. Educational Studies in Mathematics 70(3): 217-241.

Conference Paper

  • Gascoine, L., Higgins, S. & Wall, K. (2014), A systematic review of methods to assess metacognition in school‐aged children. Paper presented at symposium entitled Metacognition, executive functioning and self‐regulation: measurement tools from infancy to adolescence, 6th biennial meeting of the EARLI Special Interest Group 16 – Metacognition. Istanbul.
  • Mercier, E., Higgins, S.E., Burd, E.L. & Joyce-Gibbons, A. (2012), Multi-Touch Technology to Support Multiple Levels of Collaborative Learning in the Classroom, in van Aalst, J., Thompson, K., Jacobson, M.J. & Reimann, P. eds, Short Papers, Symposia and Abstracts 2: The Future of Learning: 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012).
  • Mercier, E., McNaughton, J., Higgins, S. & Burd, E. (2012), Orchestrating Learning in the Multi-touch Classroom: Developing Appropriate Tools, in van Aalst, J., Thompson, K., Jacobson, M.J. & Reimann, P. eds, Short Papers, Suymposia and Abstracts 2: The Future of Learning: 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012).
  • Mercier, E., Higgins, S. & Burd, E. (2011), Interdisciplinary design research: developing educational technology, 14th Biennial Conference of the European Association of Research into Learning and Instruction. Exeter, Exeter.
  • Hatch, A., Higgins, S.E., Joyce-Gibbons, A. & Mercier, E. (2011), NumberNet: Using Multi-tough Technology to Support Within and Between Group Mathematics Learning, in Spada, H., Stahl, G., Miyake, N. & Law, N. eds, 1: Connecting CSCL to Policy and Practice: CSCL2011. 176-183.
  • Alagha, I., Burd, E., Higgins, S. & Mercier, E. (2011), SynergyNet Exploring Design and Pedagogy in a Supported Collaborative Learning to Policy and Practice, in Spada, H., Stahl, G., Miyake, N. & Law, N. eds, Vol. III - Community Events Proceedings: 9th International Conference on Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL 2011). Hong Kong, China, International Society of the Learning Sciences, Hong Kong, 1081-1082.

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Thomas, J., Graziosi, S., Higgins, S., Coe, R., Torgerson, C. & Newman, M. (2012). Teaching meta-analysis using MetaLight. BMC Research Notes 5: 571.

Other (Print)

  • Higgins, S., Baumfield, V., Newton, D. & Elliott, J. (2009). Developing effective multimedia instruction for expert learners. American Journal of Psychology 567-569.


  • Coldwell, M., Greany, T., Higgins, S., Brown, C., Maxwell, B., Stiell, B., Stoll, L., Willis, B. & Burns, H. (2017). Evidence-informed teaching: an evaluation of progress in England. Appendices. Research Report July 2017 (DFE- RR696a). London, Department for Education.
  • Coldwell, M., Greany, T., Higgins, S., Brown, C., Maxwell, B., Stiell, B., Stoll, L., Willis, B. & Burns, H. (2017). Evidence-informed teaching: an evaluation of progress in England. Research report July 2017 (DFE- RR696). London, Department for Education.
  • Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Villanueva-Aguilera, A.B., Coleman, R., Henderson, P., Major, L.E., Coe, R. & Mason, D. (2016). The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit. London, Education Endowment Foundation.
  • Cordingley, P., Higgins, S., Greany, T., Buckler, N., Coles-Jordan, D., Crisp, B., Saunders, L. & Coe, R. (2015). Developing Great Teaching: Lessons from the international reviews into effective professional development. London, Teacher Development Trust.
  • Macleod, S., Sharp, C., Bernardinelli, D., Skipp, A. & Higgins, S. (2015). Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: articulating success and good practice: Research report November 2015. London, Department for Education.
  • Coe, R., Aloisi, C., Higgins, S. & Major, L.E. (2014). What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research. London: Sutton Trust.
  • Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Kokotsaki, D., Coleman, R., Major, L.E. & Coe, R. (2013). The Sutton Trust - Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit. London, Education Endowment Foundation.
  • Higgins, S., Xiao, Z. & Katsipataki, M. (2012). The Impact of Digital Technology on Learning: A Summary for the Education Endowment Foundation. London, Education Endowment Foundation.
  • Torgerson, C.J., Wiggins, A., Torgerson, D.J., Ainsworth, H., Barmby, P., Hewitt, C., Jones, K., Hendry, V., Askew, M., Bland, M., Coe, R., Higgins, S., Hodgen, J., Hulme, C. & Tymms, P. (2011). Every Child Counts: The Independent evaluation Executive Summary. Department for Education (DfE).
  • Torgerson, C.J., Wiggins, A., Torgerson, D.J., Ainsworth, H., Barmby, P., Hewitt, C., Jones, K., Hendry, V., Askew, M., Bland, M., Coe, R., Higgins, S., Hodgen, J., Hulme, C. & Tymms, P. (2011). The Every Child Counts Independent Evaluation Report to DfE.
  • Higgins, S., Kokotsaki, D. & Coe, R.J. (2011). Toolkit of Strategies to Improve Learning: Summary for Schools Spending the Pupil Premium: Technical Appendices. Sutton Trust.
  • Higgins, S., Kokotsaki, D. & Coe, R.J. (2011). Toolkit of Strategies to Improve Learning: Summary for Schools Spending the Pupil Premium. Sutton Trust.
  • Wall, K., Hall, E., Baumfield, V., Higgins, S., Rafferty, V., Remedios, R., Thomas, U., Tiplady, L., Towler, C. & Woolner, P. (2010). Learning to learn in schools phase 4 and Learning to learn in further education. Newcastle
  • Wall, K., Hall, E., Higgins, S., Leat, D., Thomas, U., Tiplady, L., Towle, C. & Woolner, P. (2009). Learning to Learn in Schools Phase 4 Year One Report. Campaign for Learning.
  • Higgins, S., Wiggins, A. & Searle, J. (2008). Bridge Model Evaluation Final Report for the National College for School Leadership. CEM Centre/School of Education. Durham.
  • Robinson, C., Sebba, J., Mackrill, D. & Higgins, S. (2008). Personalising learning: the learner perspective and their influence on demand Final report. Coventry.
  • Higgins, S., Sebba, J., roninson, C. & Mackrill, D. (2008). Personalising learning: the learner perspective and their influence on demand Review report. Coventry.

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Education: Expertise regarding the effective use of information and communications technology (ICT) for learning in schools.
  • Education: Meta-analysis and systematic reviewing
  • Education: Evidence-based policy and practice in education