This set of resources is designed to help educators look at the research on the learning processes of students so that the ideas from the research can inform decisions that educators make in designing instruction and curriculum.
The previous two actions of this Instructional Practices strategy examined the beliefs of educators and their current instructional practices. This action puts the focus on the learners. We will consider the ideas that come out of research about how students learn and the implications for instruction. The participants will engage in a jigsaw activity that explores a few articles that present various aspects of student learning. The ideas from this action will inform the vision for science instruction that is developed in the last action of this Instructional Practices strategy.
Evidence from research suggests that teachers employ mental models of how students learn when they teach (Beijaard & Verloop, 1996). In this sense, every teacher — implicitly or explicitly — employs a theory of learning as they make instructional decisions. It seems logical for the mental model to be based on our best available scientific understanding of how learning occurs. Similarly, emerging evidence suggests these models influence how teachers teach (Lohse-Bossenz et al., 2015).
It is important for educators to examine whether their instructional practices are based on the processes of learning that their students use. As educators examine the research about learning from the field of cognitive science, they may find that their practices do not match those findings. For example, they may find that instruction that is based on facts only utilizes a student’s short term memory, hence that knowledge might not aid the student in problem solving.
If educators in an organization do not have a common understanding about how students learn, they may have difficulty interpreting and diagnosing lack of achievement by some students. They may also be hindered in developing a common vision for instruction and developing plans for improvements.
Examining the research about student learning may provide the following benefits:
The activity below will explore a sampling of research from cognitive science that can inform educators about how students learn.
The portal provides an activity to help educators explore research on How Students Learn.
Deans for Impact. (2015). The science of learning. Austin, TX http://deansforimpact.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/The_Science_of_Learning.pdf
Mindset Works. (2017) Decades of Scientific Research that Started a Growth Mindset Revolution. https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/Default
National Research Council (1999). How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice. National Academy Press. http://nap.edu/9457
National Research Council (2018). How People Learn II: learners, Contexts, and Cultures. National Academy Press. http://nap.edu/24783.