Dr Michelle Ellefson

Dr Ellefson is a university lecturer in Psychology & Education with the Faculty of Education, Course Manager for the Education Tripos (the undergraduate degree) and she is Director of Studies in Education for Gonville and Caius College and Emmanuel College. Her work integrates cognition, neuroscience, child development, and education into a multi-disciplinary, international research programme aimed at improving maths and science education. Using an iterative process, she pairs laboratory-based research with classroom learning to better understand mechanisms responsible for cognitive development and improve educational practice. Michelle studies the role of executive functions in school achievement, she investigates the role of causal reasoning for learning scientific phenomena, and she applies specific cognitive principles to classroom learning (e.g., simplicity and desirable difficulties). Initially trained in developmental cognitive neuroscience, her inter-disciplinary team of students and collaborators includes developmental scientists, cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, educators, chemists, biologists, and physicists. Her currently funded projects include a 3-year project investigating young children’s understanding of everyday chemistry (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) and the malleability of executive functions and their impact on school achievement (funded by the Institute for Education Sciences, United States Department of Education).