Phil Higham is a Professor of Experimental Psychology within the School of Psychology at the University of Southampton. His research focuses on long-term human memory and metacognition, with a particular focus on conditions that promote long-term learning both inside and outside the classroom. He also investigates ways to protect people from fake news using established learning principles.
- Enhancing student learning in educational settings
- Protecting social media users from fake news
- Understanding the interplay of controlled and automatic influences of retrieval practice
My research investigates human cognition (primarily long-term memory) and metacognition (cognition about cognition). I explore these topics in a variety of laboratory and applied contexts.
One strand of my research investigates ways to improve learning and long-term memory for course material in educational contexts. A central focus here is on successive relearning, where students repeatedly retrieve answers to questions about course material (with feedback) over spaced intervals. I have recently been awarded a four-year ESRC grant to investigate how successive relearning might be implemented in school and university classrooms to enhance learning. Simultaneously, we are working with the company Exam Prepper and schools throughout the UK on using successive relearning to improve students' GCSE results. I also research other topics in educational contexts, such as the role of testing and feedback on learning. Whereas testing is generally better than studying for long-term learning (the testing effect), that is not always the case. For example, we’ve found that receiving feedback on multiple-choice practice tests can cause students to choose those same options again on a later test even though the question has changed, and those options are no longer correct.
Another strand of my research examines how learning and memory principles can be used to protect social-media users from fake news. Learning to tell the difference between true and fake news is becoming increasingly important in today’s technological society, and established work in inductive category learning can be used to facilitate this learning.
At the undergraduate level, I co-ordinate PSYC1016 (Introduction to Psychology), I teach PSYC1022 (Learning to Learn), and I supervise third-year literature reviews and empirical projects. At the postgraduate level, I supervise Masters, D.Ed.Psych, and PhD students.
I am a Senior Fellow of Advance HE.
External roles and responsibilities
Prof Phil Higham was educated in Canada, awarded a BSc (Hons) from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and then his PhD from McMaster University in Ontario. He then taught at the University of Northern B.C. in British Columbia for a few years before moving to the University of Southampton.