Prof Michelle ELLEFSON

Principal Investigator

Prof Michelle Ellefson is a Professor of Cognitive Science in the Faculty of Education. Her work integrates cognition, neuroscience, child development, and education into a multi-disciplinary 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.

She studies the role of executive functions in school achievement, investigating 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.




Research Interest

-Behavioural analysis
-Computational modelling
-Cross-sectional and cohort studies
-Electroencephalography (EEG)
-Neuropsychological testing

Key Publications

Google Scholar Link

Ellefson, M.R., Ng, F.F., Wang, Q., & Hughes, C. (2017), “Efficiency of executive function: A two-generation cross-cultural comparison of samples from Hong Kong and the United Kingdom” Psychological Science 28(5): 555-566

Goedert KM, Ellefson MR, Rehder B (2014), “Differences in the weighting and choice of evidence for plausible versus implausible causes.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 40(3):683-702 Details

Vousden JI, Ellefson MR, Solity J, Chater N (2011), “Simplifying reading: applying the simplicity principle to reading.” Cogn Sci 35(1):34-78 Details

Ellefson MR, Treiman R, Kessler B (2009), “Learning to label letters by sounds or names: a comparison of England and the United States.” J Exp Child Psychol 102(3):323-41 Details

Ellefson MR, Brinker RA, Vernacchio VJ, Schunn CD (2008), “Design-based learning for biology: Genetic engineering experience improves understanding of gene expression” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 36:292-298

Ellefson MR, Shapiro LR, Chater N (2006), “Asymmetrical switch costs in children” Cognitive Development 21:108-130