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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teach ‘science of learning’ to teachers

Teaching teachers the “basic science of learning” probably would improve teaching and student outcomes, writes Dan Willingham in Education Next.

Currently, education schools ask teachers “to learn content that is appropriate for future scientists, not future practitioners,” he write. Then, future teachers don’t get “enough practice with the principles they learn to fully absorb them and thus make them useful.”

K–12 teachers don’t need “psychological theory,” he writes. They could benefit from knowing the “developmental patterns and consistencies in children’s cognition, motivation, and emotion.”

Amy Cummings, who earned a master’s degree in cognitive science before going to work as a teacher, wonders why we don’t see more cognitive science in teaching.

Her examples include:

  1. Spacing out learning leads to better memory than massed practice.

  2. Spreading information over multiple channels (e.g., visual, auditory, haptic) reduces cognitive load and helps with comprehension and memory.

  3. Having students teach one another aids reading comprehension and memory of texts.

Many teachers believe students learn more if taught via their preferred learning style, writes Christian Jarrett. There’s no evidence for the belief, but it persists.

A new study concludes that college students who studied using their preferred learning style did not outperform those who didn’t.

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