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There appears to be a dip in a range of social, emotional and cognitive skills, and dispositions in adolescence.

Adolescence is a complex and at times challenging period of development, where young people are developing their identity, an understanding of their place in the world, and creating social connections. In recent years, we have come to learn a great deal about the development of the adolescent brain, particularly the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex of the brain is an area involved in important skills including emotion regulation, executive functioning, goal setting, problem solving, social awareness and decision making. These are all skills that are fundamental to learning, engagement, social connection, and overall wellbeing.

However, there also appears to be a dip in a range of social, emotional and cognitive skills, and dispositions in adolescence, particularly during the transition to high school and around the middle years. This dip has appeared in research projects looking at diverse but related phenomena such as academic wellbeing, learning regulation, emotion regulation, engagement, curiosity, creativity, and self-esteem.

As a multi-disciplinary field, the science of learning is well-placed to explore this phenomenon in a holistic way and develop a comprehensive literature review of the adolescent dip.


  • To better understand what is happening, when, and the potential causes
  • To investigate and develop an understanding of the challenges (i.e., cognitive, social, emotional) setting apart young people in the middle years of adolescence from those both younger and older.
  • To determine where additional research is needed.
  • To work with education stakeholders and co-design possible interventions and resources to support positive growth and development through the adolescent period.


Project members

Dr Amanda Bourgeois

Research Fellow - Learning Lab
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Casual Academic
School of Education

Dr Stephanie Macmahon

School of Education

Professor Annemaree Carroll

Associate Dean (Research)
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences