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Christine Howe


  • Emeritus Professor of Education [Please note: Emeritus status means that I can no longer supervise postgraduate students or host academic visitors]
  • Senior Associate of Lucy Cavendish College

Research Groups

  • Psychology, Education and Learning Studies (PELS)
  • Cambridge Educational Dialogue Research (CEDiR)

E-mail Address


  • BA Hons (Sussex)
  • PhD (Cambridge)

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  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Association
  • Editor: Social Development; Cambridge Journal of Education; Psychology Learning and Teaching
  • Editorial Board: British Journal of Educational Psychology; Computers and Education; First Language, Human Development; 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 following universities: Birkbeck, Birmingham, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Keele, Lancaster, Manchester, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Sheffield Hallam, Sussex, University College London
  • Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences
  • International keynotes, professorial assessments, project assessments: Australia, Belgium, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Vietnam, USA

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Christine is a psychologist by training, whose academic work lies at the intersection of Education, Linguistics and Developmental Psychology. Her main research interests have been children's conceptual knowledge, particularly in the domains of science and mathematics; children's linguistic, communicative, and peer relational skills; and dialogue and learning during peer collaboration and teacher-led instruction. As well as resulting in numerous publications and research grants, Christine's research has attracted considerable media attention and has had significant impact on policy and practice.

Christine has acted as editor of the journals Social Development, Cambridge Journal of Education and Psychology Learning and Teaching, and she has been a member of 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
  • First language acquisition
  • 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

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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Selected Recent Publications

Howe, C., Hennessy, S., Mercer, N., Vrikki, M., & Wheatley, L. (2019). Teacher-student dialogue during classroom teaching: Does it really impact upon student outcomes? Journal of the Learning Sciences, 28, 4-5, 462-512.

Howe, C., & Zachariou, A. (2019). Small-group collaboration and individual knowledge acquisition: The processes of growth during adolescence and early adulthood. Learning and Instruction, 60, 263-274.

Vrikki, M., Wheatley, L., Howe, C., Hennessy, S., & Mercer, N. (2019). Dialogic practices in primary school classrooms. Language and Education, 33, 85-100

Larrain, A. , Howe, C., & Freire, P. (2018). 'More is not necessarily better': Curriculum materials support the impact of classroom argumentative dialogue in science teaching on content knowledge. Research in Science and Technological Education, 36, 282-301.

Howe, C. (2017). Developing understanding of object fall: Going beyond inhibitory processes. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 35, 463-468.

Hast, M., & Howe, C. (2017). Changing predictions, stable recognition: Children's representations of downward motion. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 35, 516-530.

Howe, C., Taylor Tavares, J., & Devine, A. (2016). Recognition as support for reasoning about horizontal motion. Research in Science and Technological Education, 34, 273-289.

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. [Winner of Janet Duffin Prize for best paper in the journal]

Hast, M., & Howe, C. (2015). Children's predictions and recognition of fall: The role of object mass. Cognitive Development, 36, 103-110.

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 symptomatology. 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, 52, 215-239.

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.

Cassidy, C., O'Connor, R., Howe, C., & Warden, D. (2005). Perceived discrimination among ethnic minority young people: The role of psychological variables. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 1246-1265.

Christine Howe

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