Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Improving Teaching by Understanding How People Learn

A colleague recommended a book he's been reading, “How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School” by the National Research Council.

In the introductory chapter, they give some important concepts for teaching based on an understanding of how people learn. The main points:
  • student initial knowledge and conceptions provide a foundation for further learning

  • frequent formative assessment encourages metacognition and leads to deeper learning

  • need to teach education students to help their students recognize and replace incorrect preconceptions

  • in-depth coverage of fewer topics is better than superficial coverage in many topics

  • to be an effective teacher, you need to have done in-depth study yourself

  • assessment must test at the level teaching occurs, that is deep testing for deep teaching (students will do poorly on superficial testing if they've been taught for deep understanding)

  • metacognition needs to be planned into the curriculum
The whole book is graciously provided online for free. See the complete table of contents.

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