This site contains links to major past and current activities, notes on some of the many things that interest me, and professional information not elsewhere online (including my PhD thesis).
The idea that science can, and should, be run according to fixed and universal rules, is both unrealistic and pernicious. It is unrealistic, for it takes too simple a view of the talents of man and of the circumstances which encourage, or cause, their development. And it is pernicious, for the attempt to enforce the rules is bound to increase our professional qualifications at the expense of our humanity. ... All methodologies have their limitations and the only 'rule' that survives is 'anything goes'.
Paul Feyerabend, Against Method (Concluding chapter).
directed international university programmes and educational projects; written best-selling physics and chemistry textbooks; advised multinational companies about innovative approaches to CSR (corporate and social responsibility); provided advice to commercial and non-commercial organisations about learning; spoken at international conferences, on TV and on radio about multiple topics, including education, science and technology, often in the context of Russia and the former Soviet Union; and advised on the commercialisation of IP, including the implementation of a space weather project in Armenia.
For nearly thirty years my academic and professional interests have concerned the use of online social communities in developing knowledge and expertise among young people. In 1993 I established ScI-Journal, the first online space in the world designed to enable and encourage school science students to collaborate and discuss reports of school science practical work with one another, teachers and professional scientists. The site quickly grew to attract contributions from thousands of young people from around the world, especially the US, Canada, Australia and Russia as well as the UK. Its innovative nature resulted in international recognition in the first ever Cable & Wireless Childnet International Awards in 1998.
Drawing on multiple theories of learning together with theories of expertise and status from the sociological literature and methodological approaches from the world of CSCW/CSCL, my interdisciplinary study of ScI-Journal was the subject of numerous papers, book chapters, conference presentations and seminars for international audiences, and formed the basis of my PhD.
I am now applying aspects of this research through Inferential Futures, where we are building peer-to-peer support communities to help young people discover their life mission and develop the skills needed to pursue it.
"Knowledge Building Among School Students Working in a Networked Computer Supported Learning Environment"
University of Southampton (2004)
This study describes an investigation into the use of online discussion forums (both asynchronous and synchronous) to support Year 9 students (aged 13/14 years) in two English schools as they conducted science investigations. These investigations were carefully chosen to provide ample scope for students to produce scientific explanations for simple phenomena (the behaviour of a simple toy and the digestion of cooked egg white by biological washing powder) without the need to focus on replicating accepted scientific theories. Whilst working on their investigations, students made use of online resources designed to enable them to communicate with other members of the group and to share ideas whilst outside the science classroom. These online resources were structured through the application of activity theory, the focus being directed towards three aspects of the online interactions: Subject- Community-Object (knowledge-building); Rules-Community-Object (sociology of science); Tools-Community-Object (epistemology of science).
Analysis of the logfiles of online discussions was conducted by identification of critical incidents in order to focus attention on interactions between students which merited deeper investigation, making use of taxonomic frameworks derived from literatures associated with studies of the nature of science. Further explication of critical incidents was sought through critical incident recall using group interviews with students, providing them with an opportunity to contribute to the construction of meaning relating to their discussions. The outcomes of this analysis suggest that students employ a range of strategies when discriminating between knowledge claims made by others which are similar in nature to the strategies described in studies of professional scientists. In addition, the epistemological stances adopted by students as they discuss the conduct and outcomes of practical science investigations can be shown to vary over a wide range, from naïve scientism through to models which show some degree of sophistication.
I founded Inferential Futures together with Ed Jones in 2019. We are developing intelligent, adaptive ways of supporting young people as they move from education into the workplace and through job changes in the early years of their careers.
Ed and I are concerned that too many young people at university are not taking advantage of available careers guidance despite the best efforts of universities to make existing resources accessible. The resources are fragmented and there is a paucity of portals that would empower young people to make their own informed strategic and tactical decisions about their futures based on the best available information – about themselves and about the current and expected future labour market.
Based on many conversations with current and recent undergraduates, and with experts in university careers guidance, we are developing a personal careers guide and employability lab for university students and graduates – a community of peers and experts accessible at any time via an app running on a mobile phone. We aim to put each person in charge of their own plans, to help them to consider all the options in order to decide what’s right for them and give them tools to increase their employability.
Under the Hylle Royce name I provide advice on education, careers and life mission. I've advised on a vast range of problems within these broad fields, and have a huge range of contacts to draw on. Mentoring too.
Books - lots of books. And academic journal articles, thought pieces for magazines (especially New Scientist), curriculum materials for University of York Science Education Group, Nuffield Foundation and Association for Science Education, and material related to my teaching at University of Southampton. I was a leading author of the first guidance for teaching about enterprise and innovation to young people in the UK as part of the National Curriculum.
Here's what one user wrote about Heinemann Advanced Science Physics:
This is one of the best physics text books I have ever read for A-Levels. It's the only text book I read throughout in its entirety. Why? It's because of the way in which the book is presented that allowed me to grasp the material and feel encouraged in the reading it out. I liked how the book is organized with each section spanning several chapters but the section is wholly based on one big topic. For example, section 6 is based entirely on Atomic Physics, then each chapter develops atomic physics, starting with an introductory then to an intermediate and finally to an advanced stage. I personally love this book because of this fact!.