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Christine Howe


  • Emeritus Professor of Education
  • Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College

Research Groups

  • Psychology & Education
  • Science, Technology & Mathematics Education(STeM)

E-mail Address


  • BA Hons (Sussex)
  • PhD (Cambridge)

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  • Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Association
  • Editor: Social Development, Cambridge Journal of Education and Psychology Learning and Teaching
  • Editorial Board: British Journal of Educational Psychology, Computers and Education, First Language, Human Development, and Learning and Instruction
  • Emanuel Miller Prize for Philosophy, St John's College, Cambridge
  • ESRC; Member of Training and Development Board, 2004-2008; Member of Virtual College for Management, Psychology, Linguistics, and Education, 2001-2004
  • External examining (Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate) for Universities of Birmingham, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Keele, London (Institute of Education), Manchester, Nottingham Trent, Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Sheffield Hallam, and Sussex
  • Member of AERA, ASE, BPS, EARLI, SRCD

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Christine is a developmental psychologist, whose research lies at the interface between Psychology and Education. Her main interests are children's conceptual knowledge, particularly in the domains of science and mathematics, and children's peer relations and communicative competence. For the past 20 years, she has also been bringing the two interests together, via research and consultancy on 'interactive learning' in peer group, tutor-led and computer-mediated settings. As well as resulting in numerous publications and research grants, Christine's research on collaborative learning in science has attracted considerable media attention and has had significant impact on policy and practice.

Christine is past or present editor of the journals Social Development, Cambridge Journal of Education and Psychology Learning and Teaching, and she sits on the Editorial Boards of British Journal of Educational Psychology, Computers and Education, First Language, Human Development, and Learning and Instruction. In 2006, she was elected Chair of the British Psychological Society's Developmental Section, followed by election to the Academy of the Social Sciences in 2008. Christine served on the ESRC's Training and Development Board between 2004 and 2008. She has been a Nuffield Foundation Research Fellow, and a Visiting Scholar at St John's College Oxford. Christine is married with two children, and enjoys music, art, film, theatre, travel, hiking, tennis, learning languages, and playing bridge.

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  • Classroom dialogue
  • Communicative skills in pre-school and school-aged children
  • Conceptual development in children and adolescents
  • Group work in schools
  • Mathematical and scientific reasoning in children and adolescents
  • Peer group influences on social, personal and academic development
  • Psychological perspective on gender and ethnicity

Research Students

  • Communicative skills in pre-school and school-aged children
  • Mathematical and scientific reasoning in children and adolescents
  • Peer group influences on social, personal and academic development
  • Psychological perspective on gender and ethnicity

Recent Research Projects

Classroom dialogue: Does it really make a difference for student learning? (ESRC 2015-2017)

Co-construction and the processes of learning in small-group contexts: The effects of student age (British Academy 2014-2015)

Effecting principled improvement in STEM education: Student engagement and learning in early secondary-school physical science and mathematics. (ESRC 2008 to 2012)

Primary school children's tacit and explicit understanding of object motion, (ESRC 2007 to 2009)

Bullying, ethnic identity, coping and adjustment among minority ethnic pupils, (ESRC 2005 to 2006)

Peer collaboration and conceptual understanding: contradiction, co-construction and the mechanisms of growth, (British Academy 2005 to 2006)

5-14 Mathematics in Scotland: the relevance of intensive quantities, (ESRC-TLRP 2003 to 2005)

Supporting group work in Scottish schools: age and the urban/rural divide, (ESRC-TLRP 2003 to 2004)

Group work and conceptual change in science: clarification of delayed effects, (ESRC 2000 to 2002)

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Cognitive and social development


  • PhD
  • MPhil/MEd Psychology and Education
  • BA in Education

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Selected Recent Publications

Howe, C., Luthman, S., Ruthven, K., Mercer, N., Hofmann, R., Ilie, S., & Guardia, P. (2015). Rational number and proportional reasoning in early secondary school: Towards principled improvement in mathematics. Research in Mathematics, 17, 38-56.

Howe, C., Ilie, S., Guardia, P., Hofmann, P., Mercer, N., & Riga, F. (2015). Principled improvement in science: Forces and proportional relations in early secondary-school teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 37, 162-184.

Howe, C., Taylor Tavares, J., & Devine, A. (2014). Children’s understanding of physical events: Explicit and tacit understanding of horizontal motion. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 32, 141-162.

Howe, C., Heim, D., & O’Connor, R. (2014). Racism, identity and psychological well-being: A longitudinal perspective on politically embattled relations. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37, 2457-2474.

Howe, C. and Abedin, M. (2013). Classroom dialogue: A systematic review across four decades of research. Cambridge Journal of Education, 43, 325-356.

Howe, C., Devine, A., & Tavares Taylor, J. (2013). Supporting conceptual change in school science: A possible role for tacit understanding.  International Journal of Science Education, 35, 864-883.

Howe, C., Tavares Taylor, J. & Devine, A. (2012). Everyday conceptions of object fall: Explicit and tacit understanding in middle childhood. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 111, 351-366.

Howe, C. (2012). Neuroscience and knowledge acquisition in curriculum contexts: Modelling conceptual development in school science. British Journal of Educational Psychology Monograph Series II, 8, 83-98.

Durkin, K., Hunter, S., Levin, K., Bergin, D., Heim, D., & Howe, C. (2012). Discriminatory peer aggression among children as a function of minority status and school context. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 243-251.

Mercer, N., & Howe, C. (2012). Explaining the dialogic processes of teaching and learning: The value and potential of sociocultural theory. Learning, Culture, and Social Interaction, 1, 12-21.

Howe, C., Nunes, T., and Bryant, P. (2011). Rational number and proportional reasoning: Using intensive quantities to promote achievement in mathematics and science. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 9, 391-417.

Baines, E. and Howe, C. (2011). Discourse topic management and discussion skills in middle childhood: The effects of age and task. First Language, 30, 508-534.

Howe, C. (2010). Peer groups and children's development. Oxford: Blackwell.

Littleton, K. and Howe, C. (2010). Educational dialogues: Understanding and promoting productive interaction. London: Routledge.

Howe, C., Nunes, T. and Bryant, P. (2010). Intensive quantities: Towards their recognition at primary school level. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 28, 307-329.

Hunter, S.C., Durkin, K., Heim, D, Howe, C., & Bergin, D. (2010). Psychosocial mediators and moderators of the effect of peer-victimization upon depressive symtomatology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51, 1141-1149.

Howe, C. (2009). Collaborative group work in middle childhood: Joint construction, unresolved contradiction and the growth of knowledge. Human Development, 39, 71-94.

Howe, C., Tolmie, A., Thurston, A., Topping, K., Christie, D., Livingston, K., Jessiman, E. and Donaldson, C. (2007). Group work in elementary science: organizational principles for classroom teaching. Learning and Instruction, 17, 549-563.

Howe, C. and McWilliam, D. (2006). Opposition in social interaction between children: why intellectual benefits do not mean social costs. Social Development, 15, 205-231.

Howe, C., McWilliam, D. and Cross, G. (2005). Chance favours only the prepared mind: incubation and the delayed effects of peer collaboration. British Journal of Psychology, 96, 67-93.