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Ruth Kershner


University Lecturer in Psychology of Education and Primary Education

E-mail Address


01223 767565


  • BA (Hons) Social Studies
  • PGCE (Primary Education)
  • MSc: Psychology and Education of Children with Special Needs
  • MSc: Child Development with Clinical Studies (professional training in educational psychology)

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Ruth Kershner joined the Faculty of Education after working as a child care worker, primary school teacher and learning support teacher, training as a professional educational psychologist, and working in initial teacher education in Homerton College. She has particular interests in primary education; inclusive pedagogy and children's classroom learning; dialogue learning and teaching; personal epistemologies; teachers' professional learning and school-based inquiry; knowledge exchange and the dissemination of scientific knowledge in education; and the development of dialogic research methods. Her research draws on psychological and sociocultural views of dialogue, knowledge and learning with a view to enhancing teachers' awareness of classroom processes, children's active participation in learning,  classroom dialogue and relationships between students and teachers.

Ruth is a steering group member of the Cambridge Educational Dialogue Research Group (, and a member of the Psychology, Education and Learning Studies research group in the Faculty of Education.  She is Deputy Chair of the University of Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee.

Academic Area/Links

Psychology and Education; Primary Education; Research Methods

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Research Topics

Primary classroom learning - technology and learning - inclusive pedagogy  - teachers' knowledge and practice - dialogic research methods

Recent and Current Research Projects

Teacher Scheme for Educational Dialogue Analysis (T-SEDA): An impact acceleration project (ESRC Impact Acceleration 2018-19. With Sara Hennessy).

Perspectives on diversity and belonging in primary classrooms: Supporting Early Career Teachers in the development of inclusive pedagogy (2013-2014), with Kristine Black-Hawkins, Funded by British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant

Children's and Teachers' Perspectives on 'Being Different', 'Being the Same', and 'Belonging' in the Primary Classroom, (2012), with Kristine Black-Hawkins, Funded by Isaac Newton Trust, University of Cambridge

Children’s Awareness of Learning and Knowledge (ChALK) project: Phase 2 (2011). With Linda Hargreaves, Funded by Isaac Newton Trust, University of Cambridge

Children’s Awareness of Learning and Knowledge (ChALK) project (2010), With Linda Hargreaves, Funded by Isaac Newton Trust, University of Cambridge

Interactive Whiteboards and Collaborative Pupil Learning in Primary Science. (2007-2009) Co-investigator with Neil Mercer (PI), Judith Kleine Staarman and Paul Warwick, Funded by Economic and Social Research Council.

Cambridge Primary Review (2006-8) Associate Director (with Christine Doddington and Linda Hargreaves; Directed by Prof. Robin Alexander), Funded by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

Raising Boys’ Achievement (2000-2004), Directed by Mr. M. Younger and Dr. M. Warrington (with co-directors Prof. J. Rudduck and Prof. J. Gray). Funded by the Department for Education and Science, UK.

Prospective PhD Applications

Ruth is currently not available for PhD applications.  

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Course Involvement

 Masters in Primary Education; Masters in Psychology and Education; MEd Research Methods. 

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Hennessy, S., Kershner, R., Calcagni, E. & Ahmed, F. (2021) Supporting practitioner-led inquiry into classroom dialogue with a research-informed professional learning resource: A design-based approach.  Review of Education, 9 (3) e3269

Kershner, R., Hennessy, S., Wegerif, R. & Ahmed, A. (2020). Research Methods for Educational Dialogue. London: Bloomsbury

Vrikki, M., Kershner, R. S., Calcagni, E., Hennessy, S., Lee, L., Hernández, F., Estrada, N., & et al. (2018). The teacher scheme for educational dialogue analysis (T-SEDA): developing a research-based observation tool for supporting teacher inquiry into pupils’ participation in classroom dialogue. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 1-19.

Kershner, R. (2016) Including psychology in inclusive pedagogy: Enriching the dialogue? International Journal of Educational Psychology, 5(2), 112-139. doi: 10.17583/ijep.2016.2109

Kershner, R. (2014) What do teachers need to know about meeting special educational needs? 2nd.ed. in L. Florian (ed) The SAGE Handbook of Special Education, London: SAGE. pp.841-857 

Warwick, P., Mercer, N., &
Kershner, R. (2013) ‘Wait, let’s just think about this’: using the interactive whiteboard and talk rules to scaffold learning for co-regulation in collaborative science activities. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, available initially online at

Kershner, R., Pedder, D. and Doddington, C. (2012) Professional learning during a Schools-University Partnership Master of Education course: Teachers' perspectives of their learning experiences.   Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice    19 (1)

Rytivaara, A. & Kershner, R. (2012)  Co-teaching as a context for teachers' professional learning and joint knowledge construction.   Teaching and Teacher Education, 28. 999-1008

Kershner, R. & Hargreaves, L. (2012) Student teachers’ distinctive contributions to research on primary school children’s beliefs about knowledge and knowing, Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy, 38(3), 275-293

Kershner, R., Warwick, P., Mercer, N. & Kleine Staarman, J. (2012) Primary children's management of themselves and others in collaborative group work: ‘Sometimes it takes patience ...’ , Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education,   iFirst 1-16 DOI:10.1080/03004279.2012.670255

Kershner, R., Mercer, N., Warwick, P. and Kleine Staarman, J. (2010)  Can the interactive whiteboard support young children's collaborative communication and thinking in classroom science activities?   Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning   5, 359-383

Alexander, R., with Doddington, C., Gray, J., Hargreaves, L. and Kershner, R. (eds) (2010) The Cambridge Primary Review Research Surveys. Abingdon: Routledge.

Alexander, R. (ed.) (2010) Children, their World, their Education: final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review. Abingdon: Routledge.   (contribution to chaps 8 and 9)

Florian, L. and Kershner, R. (2009) 'Inclusive pedagogy' in H. Daniels, H. Lauder and J. Porter (eds) Knowledge, Values and Educational Policy: a critical perspective Abingdon: Routledge pp. 173-183

Hick, P, Kershner, R. and Farrell, P. (eds) (2009) Psychology for Inclusive Education: New directions in theory and practice Abingdon: Routledge

Kershner, R. (2009) 'Learning in inclusive classrooms' in P. Hick, R. Kershner and P. Farrell (eds) Psychology for Inclusive Education: New directions in theory and practice Abingdon: Routledge pp. 52-65

Warwick, P. and Kershner, R. (2008) Primary teachers' understanding of the interactive whiteboard as a tool for children's collaborative learning and knowledge-building Learning, Media and Technology, Volume 33 Issue 4, 269-287

Kershner, R. (2007) 'What do teachers need to know about meeting special educational needs?' in L. Florian (ed.) The SAGE Handbook of Special Education London: SAGE pp. 486-498

Kershner, R. and Florian, L. (2006) 'Teaching Strategies for Pupils with SEN: Specialist or Inclusive Pedagogy?' in R. Webb (ed.) Changing Learning and Teaching in the Primary School. Maidenhead: Open University Press pp. 115-128

Warwick, P. and Kershner, R. (2006) 'Is there a picture of beyond?' Mind mapping, ICT and collaborative learning in primary science' in P. Warwick, E. Wilson and M. Winterbottom (eds) Teaching and Learning Primary Science with ICT Maidenhead, Berks: Open University Press/McGraw Hill pp. 108-127

Kershner, R. (2005) 'Gender and achievement in special schools'  in M. Younger and M. Warrington with R. McLellan (eds) Raising Boys' Achievements in Secondary Schools: Issues, dilemmas, opportunities        Maidenhead: Open University Press pp. 157-170

Kershner, R. and Chaplain, R. (2001) 'Understanding Special Educational Needs: A teacher's guide to effective school-based research', London: Fulton

Kershner, R. (2000) 'Organising the physical environment of the classroom to support children's learning', 'Recognising and responding to children as individuals', 'Teaching children whose progress in learning is causing concern', chaps. 2, 12 and 14 in D. Whitebread (ed.) The Psychology of Teaching and Learning in the Primary School, London: RoutledgeFalmer

Kershner, R. and Pointon, P. (2000) 'Children's views of the primary classroom as an environment for working and learning', Research in Education, 64, 64-77

Pointon, P. and Kershner, R. (2000) 'Making decisions about organising the primary classroom as a context for learning: the views of three experienced teachers and their pupils', Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 117-127 (reprinted in abridged version in J. Collins et al (eds) (2000) Developing Pedagogy: Researching practice London: Paul Chapman Publishing/Open University)

Kershner, R. (2000) 'Developing student teachers' understanding of strategies for teaching SEN children', Education Today, 50 (4), 31-39

Kershner, R. (1999) 'The role of school-based research in helping teachers to extend their understanding of children's learning and motivation', Journal of In-service Education, 25 (3), 423-445

Kershner, R., Flutter, J. and Rudduck, J. (1998) 'Teacher research as a basis for school improvement: but is it useful beyond the school in which it was carried out?', Improving Schools, 1 (2), 59-62

Flutter, J., Kershner, R. and Rudduck, J. (1998) Thinking about Learning, Talking about Learning: A report of the Effective Learning Project, Cambridge: Cambridgeshire County Council/Homerton College