I’ve written before about the need for educators to know something about the cognitive basis for learning. Otherwise our students learn a lot less than they otherwise could. I recently stumbled upon this excellent editorial on the subject written by Arthur Graesser, a psychology professor at the University of Memphis. The editorial presents principles of learning that come from two reports that are worth reading. One of these is Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning, a list of recommended instructional practices along with the degree of evidence that exists in support of each practice. The other is 25 Principles to Guide Pedagogy and the Design of Learning Environments.
Here are a few of the learning principles they mention:
- Space learning over time.
- Help students learn how to effectively manage the time they spend studying.
- Testing enhances learning, particularly when the tests are aligned with important content.
- Stories and example cases are typically remembered better than facts and abstract principles — information should be embedded within a narrative.
- Motivation to learn is higher when content and skills are anchored in real world problems that matter to the student.
- Deep learning is stimulated by problems that create cognitive disequilibrium, such as obstacles to goals, contradictions, conflict, and anomalies.