Coffee CourseEngagement

The Science of Learning

cartoon of a neural network
Image by Ahmed Gad, downloaded from

What do we know about how students learn? How does this inform the ways in which we educate students in the 21st Century?

The science of learning is the scientific study of how people learn. What we currently understand about the science of learning comes from bringing together research from the fields of cognitive psychology, education and neuroscience. An awareness of the findings of this research is relevant to educators in creating effective educational environments that promote student learning.

This Coffee Course starts by exploring and busting some myths about learning. In the subsequent days we explore evidence-based strategies relevant to the educational environment, teacher and student that can be utilised to enhance teaching and learning. The research supporting each strategy will be briefly presented together with examples of how these strategies can be implemented in educational practice to promote learning.

There are a number of previous Coffee Courses that link with this Course and these are highlighted where relevant.


This course ran from Tuesday 11 August to Friday 14 August 2020. There are 4 blog posts, that will take about 15-20 minutes to work through. You are welcome to work through the course at your own pace, any time.


All are welcome

We welcome all staff, including tutors, demonstrators, professional staff, and academics at the Australian National University and beyond to join us for this course.

How to participate

The entire course will be conducted online, at your own pace through this blog. We encourage you to make a cup of coffee or tea and work through the material. Each post includes an activity or discussion question for you to respond to in the comment section of the blog. Be sure to subscribe to the blog (scroll down to the bottom, enter your email address and click on the red Subscribe button). You’ll receive an email each time a new post is made, and you can unsubscribe at any time.


Photo of Professor Alexandra Webb

Alexandra Webb

Associate Professor, Medical School, CHM, ANU

Associate Professor Alexandra Webb has more than 25 years’ experience teaching anatomy into undergraduate & postgraduate medicine, allied health & science programs in Australia & the United Kingdom. She has extensive proficiencies in leading the development & implementation of new curricula & resources. Dr Webb’s innovative educational practice has been recognised with multiple awards, including an Australian Award for University Teaching, Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, ANU Distinguished Educator and ANU Vice-Chancellor’s award for excellence in education. In her current role, she leads technology enhanced learning & teaching at the ANU Medical School. Her research encompasses clinical anatomy and education research.

Photo of Katherine Esteves

Katherine Esteves

Learning Designer, Medical School, CHM, ANU

Ms Esteves has extensive experience as a learning designer and multimedia developer that includes leading and managing multi-disciplinary teams in the higher education industry and IT-Web industry. She is skilled in implementing innovative educational technologies, developing detailed educational project execution plans and managing implementation processes. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Lillian Smyth

Lecturer in Medical Education, Medical School, CHM, ANU

Dr Smyth is an educational psychology researcher and lecturer in medical education at the ANU Medical School. Her research interests focus on social and educational psychology, working mainly on social influence, perceived norms and applications of social psychological theory to teaching and learning. Current projects explore tertiary learning approaches, academic discipline differences, research-led education, medical education, music education and the relationship between social identification and learning behaviour.