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School of Education

Staff Profile

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

Professor in the School of Education

Contact Professor 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 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.

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

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

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2013: Editorial Board Memberships: Steve was a member of the Editorial Board of the British Educational Research Journal (BERJ) from 2009-13 and is currently and Editorial Board member for the International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (IJVPLE) and Thinking Skills and Creativity. He reviews for a number of further journals including the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET), Computers and Education, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCAL) and the International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (IJCSCL). He is currently one of the four Editors of The Curriculum Journal.
  • 2010: ESRC Peer Review College member: Steve is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College.
  • Address: Addressed an All Parliamentary Committee for Scientific Learning and Education about learning styles and learning to learn.
  • Advisor to a range of international bodies :

    Steve has acted as advisor to a range of international bodies such as the Italian Ministry of Education about Learning to Learn and transveral competences (2008-9) and he was a member of the European CRELL Network on Learning to Learn (2007-9). He previously served as a member of Design Council’s Learning Environments Expert Panel (2003-5). He is currently a member of the Education Endowment Foundation’s [link to: ] Evaluation Advisory Group.

  • Editor:

    Member of the Editorial Team of The Curriculum Journal (2012-2018)

    Editor of ERIE (2001- 2003)

  • International: Reviewer for the Academy of Finland's TULOS programme, the Netherlands' NRO Open and online higher education and Programme Council for Fundamental Scientific Education Research (PROO), Luxembourg's Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg ‘CORE Multi-Annual Thematic Research Programme’, NPRP Proposals, Qatar National Research Fund, the Archimedes and Thalis Research Programmes, NSRF Greece. Advisor to the Italian Education Ministry (Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione) on Learning to Learn in schools.
  • Invited member: Invited member of EU Commission research network on Learning to Learn.
  • Invited member: Invited member of the Design Council's School Learning Environments Expert Panel.


Research Interests

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

Research Groups

Research Projects

Selected Publications

Journal Article

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

Edited 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.

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.


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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