Teaching Profession Report Roundup

Deans Map Out Learning-Science Agenda

By Stephen Sawchuk — September 29, 2015 1 min read

A group of education school deans hoping to spur improvements in teacher preparation last week announced their first major initiative: to improve aspiring teachers’ knowledge of how and why students learn.

A paper released by the Deans for Impact summarizes the research on learning science and identifies six questions teachers should grapple with. They are:

• How do students understand new ideas?

• How do students learn and retain new information?

• How do students solve problems?

• How does learning transfer to new situations in or outside the classroom?

• What motivates children to learn?

• What are common misconceptions about how students think and learn?

Those principles have a lot of implications for pedagogy. For example, on transferring learning, a teacher ought to know that alternating concrete examples like word problems with abstract representations, like mathematical formulas, can help students understand the underlying structure of problems.

The 24 members of the Deans for Impact drafted the paper in collaboration with Daniel Willingham, a University of Virginia cognitive psychologist, and Paul Bruno, a former middle school teacher and education policy student at the University of Southern California. The first three member programs set to translate the principles into teacher-preparation curricula are the Relay Graduate School of Education, the Boston Teacher Residency, and Temple University’s College of Education.

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A version of this article appeared in the September 30, 2015 edition of Education Week as Deans Map Out Learning-Science Agenda

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