INBETA updated

September newsletter

Hi there,

Here is our monthly selection of things that we found interesting. If you missed previous newsletters you can catch up here.


Educational myths and misunderstandings

In this episode of Meet the education researcher, Neil Selwyn speaks to a selection of Monash University academics to discuss some of the persistent myths we keep finding in the education research literature, including learning styles, born leaders, and digital natives.

On the notion of learning styles, we might be better off thinking about ‘metacognitive abilities’, ‘study tactics’ and ‘desirable difficulties’. Also, it turns out that the mainstream idea of individual, "heroic" leaders (think Steve Jobs) leaders is a myth and that great leaders are often simply the most visible aspects of great team. And finally, we need to take a critical position with respect to the concept of the digital native, which has little empirical evidence to support it.

Running time: about 12 minutes


Variation is the mother of learning

Marton, F., & Trigwell, K. (2000). Variatio Est Mater Studiorum. Higher Education Research & Development, 19(3), 381–395.

How can we prepare learners for future practices which are not only different, but largely unknown, by means of participation in the practices of today, firmly situated in the culture, shared present knowledge and mediational means of today, as well as in certain local conditions? How can we prepare learners for the unknown by means of the known?

One of the concepts that I appreciated in this article is the idea that knowledge transfer between contexts is not so much related to the similarity between contexts, but rather the differences between them, as well as between all other related contexts.

There is no learning without discernment and there is no discernment without

One of the implications of this line of reasoning - among others - is the understanding that learning cannot happen without making mistakes, since the error is the difference between performance and expectation. And yet, in higher education, it sometimes seems as if mistakes are worst possible outcome for students. How can we create conditions in which practice - along with mistakes - are not only tolerated but encouraged?

Via Joost van Wijchen (@jowi12)


The spacing effect

The spacing effect: How to improve learning and maximise retention. Farnam Street blog.

Learning through rote memorization is tedious and—more important—ineffective. If we want to remember something, we need to work with our brains, not against them. To do that, we need to understand cognitive constraints and find intelligent ways to get around them or use them to our advantage.

The idea that students need to remember an enormous amount of new information isn't really something I've paid much attention to in the past. I just assumed that the kinds of students who get accepted into professional degree programmes are probably the kinds of students who are good at memorising facts. And they's just that they very quickly forget what they've memorised. They pass the exams but 1) have no idea what any of it means, and 2) have forgotten almost everything within a week.

I've spent most of my time as a teacher focusing my attention on the first part of the problem i.e. developing learning environments that aim to help students understand what they're learning. But I've spent almost no time developing environments and tasks that help students remember what they're learning for extended periods. Lately I've been wondering if this is something I should be paying more attention to.
We need to devise learning activities that take organic (and less arbitrary) shapes in space and time. We need to recognize that the best learning happens not inside courses, but between them.
Jesse Stommel


Introducing a new section in the newsletter

The collaborate section is a place for In Beta community members to invite each other to join your projects related to physiotherapy education. All you need to do is to send us a bit of information about your project and what you need from participants. This month both of us would like to extend an invitation to join projects that we're both running but in the future we hope that you'll also make use of the newsletter to grow your own projects.

The next run of the Physiotherapy in different international health contexts student project will be running in March/April 2020. We are looking to expand the project next year to enable more students to take part and for each participating university to have the chance to take part in multiple conversations if they wish. Details of the project can be found here.

The first Physiotherapy Student Twitter Conference will also be happening in April/May 2020. Planning is at an early stage but this will be a student-led opportunity for physio students to share their dissertation project findings with clinicians, researchers and other students through social media. Participating institutions will be expected to organise a student-led peer review process to select their representative to "present" at the conference using a thread of 10 tweets.

For more information on either project please contact Ben on

In addition, Michael is conducting a survey on physiotherapy clinicians' perceptions of artificial intelligence in clinical practice. You don't need to know anything about artificial intelligence to complete the questionnaire and it'll take you about 20 minutes. You can find more information about the study here, or go straight to the questionnaire here.

Thanks for reading. If someone passed this email on to you and you enjoyed it you might like to sign up here. If you have any ideas for things that you think would be good to share in this email please let us know.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Ben and Michael