Simon P Walker

Simon Walker _ University of Bristol - Academia.ed

My recent papers

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Discovering how steering cognition contributes to human society

Under investigation

The association of steering bias dysregulation with wider mental health concerns


8.1.1. Method: correlation in student self-report of psychological experiences of bullying, self-harm and anxiety with patterns of heuristic dysregulation exhibited in data.



An optimal model of steering bias in different subjects (maths, science, English) can explain more variance in academic outcome than purely general intelligence alone


8.1.2. Method: identifying and testing optimal models for different subjects in 8,000 student data set. Identifying single CAS score and measuring variance of academic outcome and school academic rank.



Fixed steering biases associate with low effort, higher speed and lower accuracy


8.1.3. Method: Correlation of length of time to complete assessment sections with CAT/Midyis and academic outcome.



Homogeneity of external data environments correlates with lower steering bias variance within individuals and across individuals


8.1.4. Method: Correlation of school homogeneity (obtained through secondary questionnaire data from school on teaching methods used etc) against variance of steering  scores



High performing schools exert more optimal heuristic priming effects than low performing schools


8.1.5. Method: Correlation of school ranking (by publicly available national school ranks according to academic results achieved) of student steering scores.



An optimal model of school priming effects can explain more variance in academic outcomes than CAT/Midyis scores alone.


8.1.6. Method: Correlation of school optimal priming scores against achieved academic grades of students and CAT/Midyis scores.



9. Other current studies:


Heuristic bias over-regulation is effortful and correlates with unexpected and sudden lapses in effortful control


9.1.1. Method: Correlation in observed behaviours in population of students studied longitudinally in boarding school over several years.


Steering Cognition bias regulation in an individual can be improved through training and environmental priming


9.1.2. Method: Winchester University study, investigating the effects of improving steering cognition by peer coaching and priming, upon academic outcomes.



10. Does this work matter?

This new proposal about steering cognition has significant implications for education. Currently, schools focus on measuring algorithmic skills and have few mechanisms to measure the development of steering cognition. Increasingly, algorithmic  skills will be replicated by machines; education needs to develop mechanisms by which it can identify, measure and improve steering cognition.


One possibility of steering cognition is that it is uniquely human cognition; unreplicable by machines, because it works through cognitive associative processing. Walker’s work, which identifies a primary-processing role of steering cognition prior to algorithmic- if true- would enable a clear, explicit, measurable governing executive function the development of which can become a central goal of  education for the next generation.


Increasingly, employability skills may utilise the ability to exert executive control and regulation over a set of non-machine-replicable cognitive capacities. These may be the assets prioritised in the future.