Reconstructing a Scottish School of Educational Research 1925-1950

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Philosophy Psychology & Language

Abstract

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Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The study's principal objective - to delineate and detail a 'Scottish School of Educational Research', between about 1925 and 1950, that made major and distinctive contributions nationally and internationally - was met and surpassed, with the study producing many outputs in peer-reviewed journals, books and conferences.



We explained the most important element in the development and maintenance of the 'Scottish School': the Scottish Council for Research in Education (SCRE), a specific national cultural and political response to the modernisation of Scottish schooling. SCRE was a network representing key institutions (EIS, Directors of Education, Universities, training colleges) and significant actors which in turn mobilised wider networks. A pioneering research culture, in the UK and Europe, was formed with its own forms of inquiry, tools, institutions and models of engagement. The study explored the cultural, intellectual and social context of educational research in Scotland and its relations globally, in particular Scotland's involvement in the IEI, Boyd and the teacher testing movement, and the intellectual arguments used to explain society and the use of testing.



The project revealed the full range of the work of Scottish actors, particularly Thomson, in advancing theories of intelligence and assessment technologies, which underpinned the innovatory Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947, and were recognized in the core American and British debates on intelligence. For example, we have revealed the importance of Thomson's 'bonds' model of intelligence, a theory we have shown was equal to that of Spearman's 'two factor' model, and explored the debates and discussions between Thomson, Spearman and Thorndike. Thomson pioneered the use of factor analysis and maximum likelihood estimation: innovative work on a new mathematical model is taking Thomson's ideas into contemporary brain studies.



A major component and outcome of the project has been the collection, catalogue, conservation and deposit of core documents and texts in Edinburgh University Special Collections. This material, with its analysis, is the basis for the claim for a significant 'Scottish School'. This new archive has created a novel, coherent collection from earlier holdings, combined with a major university retrieval process of undiscovered material relating especially to the scientific, testing lab and university research leadership of Thomson (and colleagues) at the combined research and training department (Moray House). This archive is now linked to other sites, connecting elements of the 'School' together, and will enable future researchers to research the significant work of the 'School', for example, in research organisation or on the history of testing. Until now, this rich period of Scottish theoretical, methodological and policy innovation, in psychology and educational research, has not existed as a place or subject of study.



The project has revealed the possibilities of studying disciplinary, scientific and the national/international in educational research and psychology through period, place and space by the re-analysis of contemporary documents; the relational study of separated events, institutions and actors; the flow of scientific data and processes, and the significance of cross border exchanges; and through the close examination of tools, concepts, training and projects.
Exploitation Route The collection of original archival materials has been lodged with Special Collections at Edinburgh University and is now available for others to view and use.
The collection of pre-existing archival materials remains with the study and is available as a resource for other researchers.
Findings from the study have helped with planning further grant applications, and understanding more of the background to the follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys.
Sectors Education

URL http://www.ces.ed.ac.uk/SSER/index.html
 
Description The original archival material obtained during the study have been lodged with Special Collections at Edinburgh University and are available for view and use by other researchers. The information gained during the study has facilitated applications for further funding, and provided much-needed background information on the follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys.
First Year Of Impact 2009
 
Description David Bartholomew 
Organisation London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Department Department of Social Policy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Professor David Bartholomew is a retired professor from the London School of Economics. Ian Deary collaborates with Professor Bartholomew on the biologiy and modelling of cognitive functions. The CCACE statistician, Dr Mike Allerhand, has been added to this collaboration. Dr Allerhand is completing the statistical analysis for a collaborative project on random number generators and a simulation of Thomson's "bonds" (group factor) model.
Collaborator Contribution See above.
Impact Two published papers have appeared from this collaboration, and one more is submitted. One of the publications is a major theoretical contribution to the biological and statistical conception of ability differences and ageing 19618987 19321036. This collaborations' outputs have also been presented at conferences, including the History of Education group conference in Scotland and the British Psychological Society's history and philosophy group's annual conference. A further publication appeared in 2013: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2013.03.007
Start Year 2009
 
Title R package to implement Thomson's bonds model 
Description The Centre's statistician, Dr Mike Allerhand, developed an R package in order to implement the Bonds theory of intelligence first proposed by Godfrey Thomson. It has been described in: Bartholomew D. J, Allerhand M., Deary I. J., (2013). Measuring mental capacity: Thomson's bonds model and Spearman's g-model compared. Intelligence. 41:222-233. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2013 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact The package is distributed open source through the Centre's website. 
 
Description Deary - David Bartholomew talk on Godfrey Thomson 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This was a talk in honour of David Bartholomew's research on statistics and intelligence. About 80 people attended.

There was a broad range of academics present, and the talk resultsed in an invitaiton for a further talk (at Winton Capital).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Deary - Glasgow Centre for Population Health 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Invited seminar: Deary, I. J. (2014). Healthy cognitive ageing. Glasgow Centre for Population Health. Glasgow, UK, January. Ian Deary gave a talk on the follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys, especially the Lothian Birth Cohort studies of 1921 and 1936. It was described how these contribute to what we know about protective and risk factors for healthy cognitive ageing. The topic of dementia was also discussed. There was a lengthy question session afterwards and Professor Deary had drinks with the audience and had further discussion.

A video of the talk was placed on the GCPH website and has been viewed many times.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Deary - Healthy ageing LBC studies Inner Wheel Club Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Deary, I. J. (2014). Healthy ageing: clues from the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936. The Inner Wheel Club of Edinburgh. Edinburgh, UK, February. Ian Deary gave a talk on the follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys, especially the Lothian Birth Cohort studies of 1921 and 1936. It was described how these contribute to what we know about protective and risk factors for healthy cognitive ageing. The topic of dementia was also discussed. There was a lengthy question session afterwards and Professor Deary took soup and sandwiches with the audience and had further discussion.

After this talk the organisers thought it was so important and successful that they passed on Professor Deary's details to other group organisers and subsequent invitations ensued.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Deary - Leith Probus Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited talk: Deary, I. J. (2013). The Lothian Birth Cohort 1936. Leith Probus Club. Edinburgh, UK, October. Ian Deary gave a talk on the follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys, especially the Lothian Birth Cohort studies of 1921 and 1936. It was described how these contribute to what we know about protective and risk factors for healthy cognitive ageing. The topic of dementia was also discussed. There was a lengthy question session afterwards and Professor Deary took tea with the audience and had further discussion.

After this talk the organisers thought it was so important and successful that they passed on Professor Deary's details to other group organisers and subsequent invitations ensued.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Deary - MRC Network spring 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The MRC's publication, Network, published an article on Centre Director Ian Deary's workspace, which showcased the work of the Centre in spring 2014.

As is typical with these sorts of magazine-type articles, it attracted a lot of comment and attention, and many people, as a result, asked Professor Deary and colleagues about the history of the Scottish Mental Surveys and the work of the Lothian Birth Cohorts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Deary - Pilrig St Paul's Guild, Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited talk: Deary, I. J. (2013). The Scottish Mental Surveys and healthy cognitive and brain ageing. Pilrig St Paul's Guild. Edinburgh, UK, November. Ian Deary gave a talk on the follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys, especially the Lothian Birth Cohort studies of 1921 and 1936. It was described how these contribute to what we know about protective and risk factors for healthy cognitive ageing. The topic of dementia was also discussed. There was a lengthy question session afterwards and Professor Deary took tea with the audience and had further discussion.

After this talk the organisers thought it was so important and successful that they passed on Professor Deary's details to other group organisers and subsequent invitations ensued.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Frontiers BBC Radio 4 - LBC June 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Results from the Lothian Birth Cohort studies were discussed by Ian Deary on BBC Radio 4's Frontiers programme, looking at the latest thinking about our brain power in old age. Robert Logie also discussed cognitive ageing on the programme.

The Lothian Birth Cohort studies were discussed alongside Cambridge studies and a provocative idea that there might be much less cognitive ageing than these studies suggest. As a result, there was discussion in the media, which reached the Centre, about the LBC studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Godfrey H. Thomson : David Bartholomew's part in his reconstruction and resurgence 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presentation given honouring the work of Professor Emeritus David J. Bartholomew, held at the London School of Economics, December 2011.

Awareness of the involvement of David Bartholomew in the project, and his work on the bonds theory of intelligence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Professor Sir Godfrey Thomson exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A treasure trove of artefacts relating to this pioneering educational psychologist will be displayed at the Univeristy of Edinburgh from Friday 29th July until 29th October. Entrance to the exhibition is free, and it is open to the public.

Piles of intriguing ledgers and personal mementos will feature in an exhibition reconstructing the life and work of Professor Sir Godfrey Thomson. Sir Godfrey - who led the world's only nationwide IQ tests, in Scotland - was an innovative educator who firmly belived that educational opportunity should not be linked to social staus. From the 1920s onwards he advocated comprehensive education. Thomson was based at the Moray House School of Education, now part of the University of Edinburgh. His greatest legacy for today's researchers was to test the intelligence of almost every Scottish 11-year-old child in 1932, and again in 1947.

For the first time, the Scottish Mental Survey's unique ledgers will go on public view, with a selection of sample pages on show. The ledgers hold the world's only record of IQ-type scores from full national year-of-birth cohorts.

Sir Godfrey's findings have formed the basis of much of the cutting-edge research at the University of Edinburgh since the late 1990's into how the brain ages, led by Professor Ian Deary. His team studies the now-older people who took part in the Scottish Mental Surveys.

Ian has spent the past decade investigating Sir Godfrey's life, and in 2008 he rescued a mass of never-before-seen documents and objects from Thomson's family home in Edinburgh, just before it was demolished. A selection of those artefacts, portraits and documents feature in the exhibition, telling the story of who Sir Godfrey was and what his motivations were.

Ian Deary said: "Godfrey Thomson saw mental ability tests as an imperfect but useful means to give poor children a chance in life. He was determined to look past pupils' social status, and try to see their underlying ability. By all accounts he was modest, not motivated by money, and happy to share academic wins, which in part led him to fade from the history books. I'm delighted we are now able better to understand and evaluate the pioneering work of this multi-talented and elusive man."

8103 individuals visited the exhibition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-36894717
 
Description STV coverage - LBC reunion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The LBC reunion, organised and facilitated by CCACE, was covered on STV news on 17th April 2014.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Science Magazine article 31st October 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The work of the Centre, in particular the Lothian Birth Cohorts, was featured in a 4-page article in Science Magazine by Emily Underwood. This was published on 31st October 2014 and promoted through various social media outlets.

It is very unusual to have the world's top general science journal devote four pages to a single set of studies, i.e. our Lothian Birth Cohort studies. The prominence of this story meant that we obtained large numbers of national and international contacts indicating that they had seen and enjoyed the report, and wanted to know more about the studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6209/568.summary
 
Description The rescue of Sir Godfrey Thomson - Ian Deary 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Deary, I. J. (2016). The rescue of Godfrey Thomson. University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections. Edinburgh, UK, August.

This illustrated talk described the findings of the Godfrey Thomson archives, their formal cataloging, and the exhibition based on them that was curated by Ian Deary. Also covered, were the academic publications written based on the archival materials.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZObidTDX4lI
 
Description William Boyd and the Research Committee of the Educational Institute of Scotland in the 1920s 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk given as part of a Symposium entitled "Psychologists' Contribution to the Development of Educational Psychology and Child Guidance in Scotland"; Convenor: John Hall

A great deal of interest was shown by attendees at the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010