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Dr Philip Higham BSc, PhD

Reader in Cognitive Psychology

Dr Philip Higham's photo

Dr Philip Higham is Reader in Cognitive Psychology within 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.

I was educated in Canada, awarded a BSc (Hons) from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and then my PhD from McMaster University in Ontario. I then taught at the University of Northern B.C. in British Columbia for a few years before moving to Southampton as a lecturer.

I am currently a Reader in Cognitive Psychology.

Research interests

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 focuses on how people use metacognition to strategically regulate the accuracy of what they report. I have developed a framework using signal detection theory to facilitate this research.

A second, newer strand of my research investigates ways to improve learning and long-term memory for course material in educational contexts. One focus here is on successive relearning, where students repeatedly retrieve answers to questions about course material (with feedback) over spaced intervals. We 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 developing a webpage and app that students can use outside of the classroom to serve the same purpose. 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.

A third 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.

Finally, a fourth strand of my research is understanding the decision-making processes behind migration. This research is funded by the ERC.

If you are a potential postgraduate student and any of these topics (or my other research topics which can be found in the "Publications" tab) interest you, please feel free to get in touch.

Research group

Centre for Perception and Cognition (CPC)

Research project(s)

Developing computational models of accuracy regulation

Bayesian Agent-Based Population Studies (BAPS): Transforming Simulation Models of Human Migration

Migration is one of the most uncertain population processes, lacking an overarching theoretical and conceptual background. The project will fill important gaps in our knowledge on migration by developing innovative statistical and computational migration models.

I am the CHEP (Centre for Higher Education Practice) Champion for Psychology. I also serve on the Ethics Committee and have been involved in preparations for REF2021.

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At the undergraduate level, I co-ordinate PSYC1016 (Introduction to Psychology), I am a tutor on PSYC1005 (Thinking Psychologically), and I supervise third-year literature reviews and empirical projects. At the postgraduate level, I supervise Masters, D.Ed.Psych, and PhD students.

Dr Philip Higham
Building 44 Highfield Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 44/4125

Facsimile: (023) 8059 4597

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