Dr Jonathan William Firth

Teaching Fellow


Personal statement


Having taught psychology at secondary school level for over 15 years, I now work as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Strathclyde.

I am the incoming course leader for BA Joint Honours Education, and also lead the PGDE Secondary Psychology, developing new Psychology teachers to work in schools. I teach on several other courses across the School of Education, and supervise research students.

My research interests focus on the psychology of memory and metacognition as it applies to learning, as well as learning theories, assessment, and teachers' professional learning. Most recently I have completed a systematic review into the ‘interleaving effect’, practical studies of beliefs about learning with student teachers and practising secondary teachers, and field experiments on school pupils that look at how learners benefit from interleaved examples. I have also collaborated on research into practitioner enquiry and nudge psychology.

I have written several textbooks for the school psychology curriculum, as well as resource books for teachers. These works include ‘Psychology in the Classroom’ (2018, co-authored with Marc Smith), 'The Teacher's Guide to Research' (2019), and a short guide to learning and study for school pupils and university students entitled ‘How to learn’ (2018).

I am currently engaged in several knowledge exchange projects that involve supporting teacher research engagement in schools and local authorities. I have also led and co-led CLPL sessions for teachers, and have written an online course on metacognition for teachers.

In summary, my areas of professional interest include:

- Memory, metacognition and teacher professional learning.

- Evidence-informed approaches to learning, study skills, and assessment.

- Use of field experiments, metacognition research, meta-analysis and systematic review.

- Teaching of school (pre-tertiary) psychology, including online teaching.

- The psychology of learning, including learning theories.


Context and implications document for : a systematic review of interleaving as a concept learning strategy
Firth Jonathan, Rivers Ian, Boyle James
Review of Education Vol 9, pp. 685-688 (2021)
A systematic review of interleaving as a concept learning strategy
Firth Jonathan, Rivers Ian, Boyle James
Review of Education Vol 9, pp. 642-684 (2021)
Teachers' beliefs about memory : a vignette study of trainee and in-service teachers
Firth Jonathan William
Studia Psychologica Vol 63, pp. 204–220 (2021)
Boosting learning by changing the order and timing of classroom tasks : implications for professional practice
Firth Jonathan
Journal of Education for Teaching Vol 47, pp. 32–46 (2021)
Tackling learning myths among trainee primary teachers : a case study
Firth Jonathan William, Zike Jennifer
10 (2020)
'Nudge Psychology' and Workplace Research Engagement
Firth Jonathan William, Salehjee Saima

More publications

Professional activities

Metacognition: how effectively can students and educators reflect on experience?
Working memory: What do teachers need to know?
The use of spacing and interleaving in classroom learning
SERA Conference 2017
Teacher engagement with research: a confused agenda?

More professional activities


Practitioner enquiry support in East Renfrewshire (Woodfarm and Cross Arthurlie)
Wall, Kate (Principal Investigator) Beck, Anna (Academic) Firth, Jonathan William (Academic) Moore, Iain (Academic)
Tailored practitioner enquiry support to develop whole school approaches
01-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2021
‘Nudge psychology to boost trainees’ engagement with research evidence: a workplace toolkit’
Salehjee, Saima (Principal Investigator) Firth, Jonathan William (Principal Investigator)
In Scotland, there is an emphasis on the use of critical thinking by practitioners in multiple fields, in order to build a skilled workforce for the future. Along these lines, the professional trainers, training teachers, nurses, engineers, economists etc, are often advised by their training providers and Higher Education institutes to engage with evidence-based practices (D'Andrea & Gosling, 2003). However, new professionals may feel that research evidence is irrelevant, time consuming and additional responsibility, and prefer to work on the basis of intuition. Therefore, the broad aim of our project is to encourage critical thinking and self-reflection among trainees via engagement with evidence. To do so, we aim to introduce ‘nudge psychology’ - which suggests that a ‘nudge’ – i.e. a simple and subtle encouragement – can be more effective in modifying behaviour than a reward or punishment. Just as some products, such as mobile phones, are intuitive to use, so nudges aim to ensure that people are not put off from working towards their goals, and are instead motivated to persist (Sunstein, 2014). In essence, a nudge is a small change to facilitate a behaviour, for example, by making it easier, more attractive, more desirable, or more memorable. Workers can be nudged towards particular choices and behaviour if they are accessible, attractive and memorable, or they could be nudged away from such choices and behaviour. This study will focus on these processes by identifying relevant nudges using the research literature, and by interviewing those who work training teachers, engineers, careers advisors, and other professionals, in order to find out which nudges would be most relevant to their trainees. We then intend to develop a nudge psychology toolkit for use in a range of workplace settings.
10-Jan-2019 - 10-Jan-2020
Practitioner enquiry support in East Renfrewshire (Woodford Lodge School)
Wall, Kate (Principal Investigator) Beck, Anna (Academic) Firth, Jonathan William (Academic) Moore, Iain (Academic) Jones, Lynne (Researcher)
A sustained engagement to develop a whole school approach to practitioner enquiry.
01-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2020
School and University Research Enquiry
Sosu, Edward (Co-investigator) Firth, Jonathan William (Co-investigator) Beck, Anna (Co-investigator) Klein, Markus (Co-investigator) Donohoe, Claire (Co-investigator) McGavigan, Hilary (Co-investigator) Martin, Phil (Co-investigator)
The School and University Research Enquiry project (SURE) aims to bridge the gap between education research and practice. It will investigate the Scottish Attainment Challenge and the ‘what works’ agenda in terms of specific school interventions. In April 2017, the Scottish Government published their Research Strategy for Scottish Education, which stressed the need for a focus on “increasing the levels of collaboration and communication between all actors within the education system". SURE is contributing to this goal via a school-university collaborative study exploring Headteachers’ relationship with
research and gaining an understanding of their choices of interventions employed in their schools, with reference to PEF funding. Researchers on the project represent two Glasgow schools as well as the University of Strathclyde.

More projects