Hermione Townsend

MPhil work

Changing education paradigms: placing metacognition at the centre of learning.

An investigation into the design of new educational systems, tools and experiences to develop, assess and track metacognition in children as an integrated part of the teaching and learning process. 

The word ‘metacognition’ describes how we think about our own thinking - or learn about our own learning - and the processes we use to regulate our own learning based on this knowledge. Much existing research shows that these skills are highly effective and are also teachable. There is a movement in education towards giving metacognition a greater role in the classroom. However, many of the traditional educational systems, tools and experiences predate such recognition. Consequently many resources being used in schools to develop these skills are ‘interventions’ or ‘add-ons’ to the current curriculum and teaching processes. Yet evidence also shows that these skills are most effective when developed as an integral part of the learning process. The aim of this research therefore is to investigate how we might (re)design learning tools and experiences with the development of metacognitive skills as a core function, to be used across learning in different contexts. Through action research and case creation methodologies a series of prototypes (digital and/or physical) will be developed and tested.

The research will also investigate ways to assess and track metacognitive skills effectively, to give insight to both the child and their teacher about their individual learning process. The scope for digital and adaptive learning technologies to facilitate this will be a particular focus.

MA work

Unstuck! / Engage

Unstuck!

Unstuck is a digital resource that empowers primary school children by supporting them in that ‘I’m stuck!’ moment in their learning. It transforms this moment from a barrier to a starting point, prompting them to move forward through trying different strategies and reflecting on what works for them. This increases confidence, independence and awareness of their own learning patterns.

Unstuck uses the data from this process to ‘learn’ about the child and adapt to their unique learning needs. Teachers can access the data to gain valuable insights into students’ individual learning processes, in order to more effectively personalise their teaching and feedback.


Engage

The Engage Team designs physical and ​​user-friendly prompts as a medium to generate open discussion about sensitive topics, providing a more accessible way for people to participate in a safe, contained, and rich conversation about mental health. We tackle stigma and increase ‘mental health literacy’ so that nobody is afraid to speak out and seek help. The project has been developed across three countries, resulting in three different culturally appropriate solutions.

Info

  • MPhil

    School

    School of Design

    Programme

    Global Innovation Design, 2018–2022

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Design

    Programme

    MA Global Innovation Design, 2017

  • My design research and practice explore education and learning experiences in the 21st century, and what these should and could involve given the rapidly changing world we must prepare young people to navigate. 

    I seek to create learning experiences and tools which promote 'learner agency' in various contexts - by supporting and empowering the learner to reflect on and understand their own process in order to take ownership of this process. I apply insights from my years of classroom teaching experience and employ human-centred and participatory design methods to work with learners on this challenge.

  • Degrees

  • Ma/MSc Global Innovation Design, Royal College of Art/Imperial College London, 2017; MA Leadership (Teachfirst), Institute of Education, 2011; Qualified Teacher Status, General Teaching Council, 2009; BA Hons French and History of Art, University of Bristol, 2008
  • Experience

  • Monitoring and Evaluation coordinator, Children's Radio Foundation, Cape Town, 2013 – 2014; Literacy consultant and Teacher trainer, Teach First, 2014 – 2015; Class teacher and Literacy coordinator, Our Lady's School, Tower Hamlets, London 2008 – 2013; Co-founder and Head of Research, Spaghetti Brain Ltd, Innovation RCA London, 2017 - present
  • Exhibitions

  • Royal College of Art Graduate Degree Show, London, 2017; RCA Work in Progress show, Royal College of Art, London, 2017; White Noise, Royal College of Art, London, 2017; Oxford Art Week Exhibition, Dragon School, Oxford, 2017; Pratt ID View show, Pratt Institute, New York, 2015
  • Awards

  • Runner up, Warp and Weft rug design competition, 2015; Highly Commended Work, Pratt Institute ID View, 2015
  • Conferences

  • Coppen, D., Josef, R., Sepulveda F., Townsend H., Stevens J., Engage: Redoing How We Talk About Depression, Cumulus Kolding, 2017; Stevens, J., Townsend, H, Building cross-border communities: trans-national innovation design students create trans-cultural innovations and a global network of practice, International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, 2017