The science of learning
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Author(s):
Professor Dan Willingham and Paul Bruno

Drawing on the latest scientific research, The Science of Learning addresses the weighty question of how pupils learn and what teachers can do to help their classes get the most out of their time in school. Using six key questions about the process of learning, this research acts as a guide for putting scientific theory to practical use in the classroom for both new and experienced teachers.

Breaking learning down into six key aspects, the researchers ask:

  1. How do students understand new ideas?
  2. How do students learn and retain new information?
  3. How do students solve problems?
  4. How does learning transfer to new situations in or outside of the classroom?
  5. What motivates students to learn?
  6. What are common misconceptions about how students think and learn?

It sets these six questions out in a simple, accessible style providing for each the cognitive principle – such as ‘students learn new ideas by reference to ideas they already know’ – and giving practical examples of how teachers may incorporate that principle into their teaching practices.

Without going too much into the scientific details the research provides an interesting read for those wishing to explore the ‘why’ of teaching, as well as the ‘how’ and offers an explanation for why some teaching practices may prove more effective at helping pupils to learn than others. 






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Author(s):
Professor Dan Willingham and Paul Bruno

Published by:
Deans for Impact

Date of publication:
September 2015

Country of origin:
US

CPD opportunities:

Though the research is aimed at newly qualified teachers, it will prove equally useful for any education professional wanting to connect the science behind learning with the activities they plan in their teaching everyday.


£:

Record ID:
R111 / 222
Link to research:
The science of learning

Beginner's guide to:
Professor Daniel Willingham

Related reading:
Publisher's Website

Rating Summary:


8.44 based on 3 votes

Useful in informing practice
9.33/10
Useful in informing policy
7.00/10
Generally interesting or inspiring
9.00/10

Readable, Relevant, (Re)memorable 
(9.33/10)

On 25 Apr 2016, wrote:
Papers like this are what the teaching profession has been crying out for. Rooted in research and dripping with academic rigour yet eminently readable and directly applicable to daily practice. Well worth a (quick and useful) read.
Useful in informing practice
10/10
Useful in informing policy
8/10
Generally interesting or inspiring
10/10
Very readable summary 
(8.67/10)

On 25 Apr 2016, wrote:
This is a great document for busy teachers as it gives a brief and very readable summary of key research without over-simplifying or paraphrasing too much as some summaries can do. In giving some very brief practical ideas, it brings the focus back to impact day-to-day and gives just enough information to allow more detailed studies to be looked up as required or desired.
Useful in informing practice
10/10
Useful in informing policy
7/10
Generally interesting or inspiring
9/10
If only more research based publications were so user friendly 
(7.33/10)

On 25 Apr 2016, Patrick Watson wrote:
Not only is Dan Willingham is a distinguished cognitive scientist but he is a great communicator. That means that he is closer to understanding how the brain processes information and how we learn and retain knowledge than most in education. Importantly, he has the knack of explaining complex findings in layman's terms.
Willingham is driven by the need to identify and translate ideas from research into practice to help teachers in the classroom. And it certainly shows in this new publication. It's very accessible, easy to navigate, with clear jargon free practical suggestions. It lists in the left column the relevant ‘cognitive principle’, for example ‘practice is essential to learning new facts, but not all practice is equivalent.’ Then in the right hand column it sets out the practical implications for teachers. For example, ‘Teachers can space practice over time, with content being reviewed across weeks or months, to help students remember that content over the long-term. So, in short, spaced learning is good.
Like most self-respecting education research studies at the moment, it includes some 'myth-busting'. Students do not have different 'learning styles'. And no, we don’t use just 10% of our brains. If only more research based publications were so user friendly, one suspects that many more teachers would see the real value of science based research to help their classroom practice.
Useful in informing practice
8/10
Useful in informing policy
6/10
Generally interesting or inspiring
8/10



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