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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

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

Professor in the School of Education

Contact Prof Steve Higgins (email at

Affiliate of the Durham University Evidence Centre for Education


Steve Higgins is Professor of Education at Durham University.

Steve joined the School of Education in September 2006. 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 use of evidence from research to support policy and practice decisions in education, the effective use of 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 the lead author of the Sutton Trust/EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit and has an interest the use of meta-analysis 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, the role of evidence-based practice in schools, the development of trials and evaluation methodologies and the analysis of trials data in education in particular as well as the use of digital technologies for learning in schools.

Completed Supervisions

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.

The obstacles to using technologies in primary schools to help students with mathematics difficulties in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

How can K12 Education reduce prejudice?

Challenges to Pedagogical Content Knowledge in lesson planning during curriculum transition: a multiple case study of teachers of ICT and Computing in England.

Islamic Studies Teachers’ Perceptions of Using a Blended Approach for Teaching Islamic Education Modules in Primary Schools in Saudi Arabia.

Can Digital Mind Mapping with Collaborative Learning enhance learning in Saudi primary schools?


Seek, Read, Present, Question (SRPQ): A feasibility study of an integrated strategy to teach history and critical thinking in a high school in Saudi Arabia.

To what extent do university students in Saudi Arabia find a social media tool (Twitter) useful in their respective learning environments?

Enhancing the use of Educational Technologies in the Early Years.

The Function and Purpose of the Shadow Education System: An Action Research Study of Post-16 Students’ Perceptions of Private Tutoring.

Keynote presentations

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

‘Engaging teachers in and with Research’ Evidence Informed Policy and Practice in Education in Europe (EIPPEE), November 2016, Copenhagen. 

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

New (and Old) Technologies for Learning: Innovation and Educational Growth’ VIII Congreso Internacional de Psicología y Educación (CIPE 2016), June 2016, Alicante.

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

School of Education

Centre for Medical Education Research

  • Medical Education

Research Projects

  • 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 , the EEF Database and NPD Analysis and Data Archive 2018-2021
  • Development of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit and NPD Analysis and Data Archive Support
  • DIY Evaluation Guide Version 3
  • Evaluation of EdTech Innovation Testbed
  • 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

  • Higgins, S (2018). Improving Learning: Meta-analysis of Intervention Research in Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 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

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.

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

Other (Print)

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


Show all publications

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

Selected Grants

  • 2019: Evaluation Of EdTech Innovation Testbed (£625000.00 from )
  • 2018: Research to Support the Development of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit and EEF Archive of Educational Trials (£762147.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2016: The TRECA Study: TRials Engagement in Children and Adolescents (£6887.00 from National Institute for Health Research)
  • 2015: RF230085: Development of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit and NPD Analysis and Data Archive Support
  • 2014: Evaluation of progress towards an evidence based teaching system, including DfE's role in facilitating progress (£19095.00 from Department for Education)
  • 2012: Cross Age Peer Tutoring (£93924.36 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2012: Development of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit and EEF Overarching Evaluation (£131125.14 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2011: Improving Learning for Disadvantaged Learners: Evidence Review (£27572.00 from The Sutton Trust)
  • 2010: Strategies for Improving Learning (£6000.00 from The Sutton Trust)
  • 2008: CAMPAIGN FOR LEARNING: PHASE 4 (£18786.00 from Campaign for Learning)
  • 2008: RDI IN QUANTITATIVE SYNTHESIS (£63435.52 from ESRC)
  • 2008: SynergyNet (£254243.22 from ESRC)
  • 2007: EVALUATION OF NEXT PRACTICE MODEL ITT 108 (£44400.00 from National College for School Leadership)
  • 2006: LEARNING TO LEARN PHASE 3 (£32119.01 from Campaign for Learning)
  • 2016: GCRF-IAA - TOOLKIT IMPACT IN CHILE (£10662.00 from ESRC)
  • 2016: Standard Deviation as an Outcome of Interventions: A Methodological Investigation (£0.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2014: Development of an Interactive DIY evaluation guide (£782.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)