A new way of understanding learning


It all started when...

I was working in a bilingual learning context. It became clear to me that the way we learn – all of us... children and adults adults alike, has a lot more to do with the interaction between the learner and their learning environment than any notion of individual talent. In order to begin to rigorously explore this notion, I embarked on my PhD with Alex Haslam and Katharine Greenaway at The University of Queensland.

Through a desire to thoroughly rethink the traditional notions of learning, we designed a research proposal that involved not only a micro-level experimental analysis of the way people literally process information under different social conditions, but also a series of field experiments to look at how to translate those laboratory findings into something usable within a real world setting.

Our lab studies use paradigms to generate within our participants transitory feelings of social connection, or alternatively, of social exclusion, and we then go on to measure levels of information processing. Results are as expected – when people are made to feel disconnected from their social environment, their capacity to process information is significantly reduced. 

Using what we have learned, we then went on to design an applied intervention to be used in an educational setting, and with the goal of improving learning outcomes – both academic but also general levels of well-being, agency, and commitment. Our applied intervention – known as GROUPS 4 EDUCATION, is strongly informed by the GROUPS 4 HEALTH program, and falls under the family of programs developed under the 'Social Cure' banner.

– Sarah Bentley

Read more about my applied interventions here

Read more about my mentors and collaborators here

Read about my latest activities here