This has some really interesting stuff about how students learn and revise: for those who still believe that there is such a thing as learning styles. Click on the image for the full report but here’s a summary:
- Students learn new ideas by reference to ideas they already know.
- To learn, students must transfer information from working memory (where it is consciously processed) to long-term memory (where it can be stored and later retrieved). Students have limited working memory capacities that can be overwhelmed by tasks that are cognitively too demanding. Understanding new ideas can be impeded if students are confronted with too much information at once.
- Cognitive development does not progress through a fixed sequence of age related stages. The mastery of new concepts happens in fits and starts.
- Information is often withdrawn from memory just as it went in. We usually want students to remember what information means and why it is important, so they should think about meaning when they encounter to-be-remembered material.
- Practice is essential to learning new facts, but not all practice is
- Each subject area has some set of facts that, if committed to long-term memory, aids problem-solving by freeing working memory resources and illuminating contexts in which existing knowledge and skills can be applied. The size and content of this set varies by subject matter.
- Effective feedback is often essential to acquiring new knowledge and skills.
- The transfer of knowledge or skills to a novel problem requires both knowledge of the problem’s context and a deep understanding of the problem’s underlying structure.
- We understand new ideas via examples, but it’s often hard to see the unifying underlying concepts in different examples.
- Beliefs about intelligence are important predictors of student behaviour in school.
- Self-determined motivation (a consequence of values or pure interest) leads to better long term outcomes than controlled motivation (a consequence of reward/punishment or perceptions of self-worth)
- The ability to monitor their own thinking can help students identify what they do and do not know, but people are often unable to accurately judge their own learning and understanding.
- Students will be more motivated and successful in academic environments when they believe that they belong and are accepted in those environments.
• Students do not have different“learning styles.”
• Humans do not use only 10% of their brains.
• People are not preferentially “right-brained” or “left-brained” in the use of their brains.
• Novices and experts cannot think in all the same ways.
• Cognitive development does not progress via a fixed progression of age related stages.
What is Working Memory?
Psychologists use the term ‘working memory’ to describe the ability we have to hold in mind and mentally manipulate information over short periods of time. Working memory is often thought of as a mental workspace that we can use to store important information in the course of our mental activities
When do we use working memory?
We typically use working memory as a sort of mental jotting pad in situations when there is no other external record such as written notes or a calculator.
Why is working memory crucial for learning?
Working memory is important because it provides a mental workspace in which we can hold information whilst mentally engaged in other relevant activities. The capacity to do this is crucial to many learning activities in the classroom. Children often have to hold information in mind whilst engaged in an effortful activity. The information to be remembered may, for example, be the sentence that they intend to write while trying to spell the individual words. It could also be the list of instructions given by the teacher while carrying out individual steps in the task.
Why is working memory important in classroom learning?
Many of the learning activities that children are engaged with in the classroom, whether related to reading, mathematics, science, or other areas of the curriculum, impose quite considerable burdens on working memory. Activities often require the child to hold in mind some information (for example, a sentence to be written down) while doing something that for them is mentally challenging (such as spelling the individual words in the sentence). These are the kinds of activities on which children with poor working memory struggle with most, and often fail to complete them properly because they have lost from working memory the crucial information needed to guide their actions. As a result, the children may not get the learning benefit of successfully completing an activity, and this slows down their rates of learning.