Why giving kids a roadmap to their brain can make learning easier — from edsurge.com by Megan Nellis

Excerpts:

Learning, Down to a Science
Metacognition. Neuroplasticity. Retrieval Practice. Amygdala. These aren’t the normal words you’d expect to hear in a 15-year-old rural South African’s vocabulary. Here, though, it’s common talk. And why shouldn’t it be? Over the years, we’ve found youth are innately hungry to learn about the inner workings of their mind—where, why and how learning, thinking and decision-making happens. So, we teach them cognitive science.

Over the next three years, we teach students about the software and hardware of the brain. From Carol Dweck’s online Brainology curriculum, they learn about growth mindset, memory and mnemonics, the neural infrastructure of the brain. They learn how stress impacts learning and about neuroplasticity—or how the brain learns. From David Eagleman and Dan Siegel, they learn about the changing landscape of the adolescent brain and how novelty, emotionality and peer relationships aid in learning.

Pulling from books such as Make It Stick and How We Learn, we pointedly teach students about the science behind retrieval practice, metacognition and other strategies. We expressly use them in our classes so students see and experience the direct impact, and we also dedicate a whole class in our program for students to practice applying these strategies toward their own academic learning from school.

 

 

 
 

From DSC to teachers and professors:
Should these posters be in your classroom? The posters each have a different practice such as:

  • Spaced practice
  • Retrieval practice
  • Elaboration
  • Interleaving
  • Concrete examples
  • Dual coding

That said, I could see how all of that information could/would be overwhelming to some students and/or the more technical terms could bore them or fly over their heads. So perhaps you could boil down the information to feature excerpts from the top sections only that put the concepts into easier to digest words such as:

  • Practice bringing information to mind
  • Switch between ideas while you study
  • Combine words and visuals
  • Etc. 

 

Learn how to study using these practices

 

 

Why demand originality from students in online discussion forums? — from facultyfocus.com by Ronald Jones

Excerpt:

Tell me in your own words
Why demand originality? In relating to a traditional classroom discussion, do students respond to the professor’s question by opening up the textbook or searching for the answer on the Internet and then reading off the answer? Some might try, but by asking questions the professor is looking to see if the students grasp the discussed concept, not if they know how and where to find the answer.

Online students have the advantage of reflection time, along with having the textbook and Internet search engine open when responding to discussion questions. With a few simple clicks, virtually any question can be answered by searching the Internet. Once again, why demand originality? Classroom learning takes place when students are required to think; that’s a few steps beyond clicking copy and paste. As instructors, we should encourage our students to be resourceful and to learn the skills of locating and incorporating scholarly literature into their work. But we also must instill the learning value of synthesizing sources in such a manner that produces evidence of gained knowledge.

 

From DSC:
I like the idea of asking students to put it into their own words. Not just to get by the issue of copying/pasting or trying to stem plagiarism, but because it’s more along the line of journaling about our learning. We need to actually engage with some content in order to put that content into our own words. Not outsourcing our learning to others. Journaling can help us clarify what we’re understanding and where we still have questions and/or concerns.

 

 

Encouraging participation of all in the course: Moving from intact classes to individuals students — from scholarlyteacher.com by Todd Zakrajsek, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Excerpts:

During every class session, read the room by watching individuals. Are students taking notes, nodding along as others speak, or even advancing the discussion by building on the comments of classmates? Are verbal responses merely defining terminology, or do they make connections between the text and real-world examples? Analyze the extent to which certain examples or content areas are received by individual students. Take note when student responses are merely noise to fill the void when you are not talking. Overall, look for individual characteristics that emerge within your course as a community of learning is being established.

Keep in mind that it is often less threatening to one’s ego to claim a lack of preparation for class than it is to admit that one is finding it difficult to understand the material. For those who need a bit of motivation to come prepared, a quiz at the beginning of class will help students to come to class ready to discuss the material for that day.


As all students are pressed for time these days, a quiz might be the added motivation that most students need. These quizzes do not need to be extremely challenging, but they should be challenging enough to ensure the required preparation is done. That is, one should not be able to get responses correct simply by guessing. For students who do not understand the material, quizzes will not prepare them to engage in class discussions or to answer your questions during a discussion lecture. For those students, failed quizzes might add additional pressure and cause less engagement with the material. Struggling students who are not prepared for class need assistance to understand the material. Carefully structured small group projects and discussions might be the best way to get their voices into the class. Ask increasingly difficult questions as part of the discussion, and when you know you have struggling students reserve some of the easier questions for those students.

 

 

Gen Zers look to teachers first, YouTube second for instruction — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

Students in Generation Z would rather learn from YouTube videos than from nearly any other form of instruction. YouTube was designated as the preferred mode of learning by 59 percent of Gen Zers in a survey on the topic, compared to in-person group activities with classmates (mentioned by 57 percent), learning applications or games (47 percent) and printed books (also 47 percent). A majority (55 percent) believe that YouTube has “contributed to their education.” In fact, nearly half of survey participants (47 percent) reported spending three or more hours every day on YouTube.

The only method of instruction that beat out YouTube? Teachers. Almost four in five Gen Zers (78 percent) reported that their instructors “are very important to learning and development.” That’s nearly 20 percentage points higher than the YouTube option.

While Millennials also value teachers above all else for learning (chosen by 80 percent), that’s followed by printed books (60 percent), YouTube (55 percent), group activities (47 percent) and apps or games (41 percent).

 

 

Also, see the work from Pooja K. Agarwal | @PoojaAgarwal
Assistant Professor, Cognitive Scientist, & Former K-12 Teacher. Follow  and subscribe for teaching strategies at .

An example posting:

Retrieve, Space, Elaborate, and Transfer with Connection Notebooks — from retrievalpractice.org

Excerpts:

How can we encourage students to retrieve, elaborate, and connect with course content? Here’s a strategy called Connection Notebooks by James M. Lang, Professor at Assumption College. Connection Notebooks include retrieval practice, spacing, elaboration, and transfer – all in five minutes or less!

Ask students to dedicate a specific notebook as their Connection Notebook at the beginning of the semester (or provide one for them) and have them to bring it to class every day. Approximately once a week, ask students to take out their Connection Notebook and write a one-paragraph response to a “connection prompt” at the end of class. For example:

  • How does what you learned today connect to something you’ve learned in another class?
  • Have you ever encountered something you learned today in a TV show, movie, song, or book?
  • Have you ever experienced something you learned today in your life outside of school?


Connection Notebooks are effective for a few reasons:

 

 

Also, see the work from Learning Scientists | @AceThatTest | learningscientists.org

An example posting:

 

In this digest, we put together 5 blog posts by teachers that focus on implementing spaced practice in one specific subject at a time. For more of an overview of spaced practice, see this guest post by Jonathan Firth (@JW_Firth).

 

sapced practice in practice
 

 

You’re already harnessing the science of learning (you just don’t know it) — from edsurge.com by Pooja Agarwal

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Now, a decade later, I see the same clicker-like trend: tools like Kahoot, Quizlet, Quizizz and Plickers are wildly popular due to the increased student engagement and motivation they can provide. Meanwhile, these tech tools continue to incorporate powerful strategies for learning, which are discussed less often. Consider, for example, four of the most robust research-based strategies from the science of learning:

  1. Retrieval practice
  2. Spaced practice
  3. Interleaving
  4. Feedback

Sound familiar? It’s because approaches that encourage students to use what they know, revisit it over time, mix it up and learn about their own learning are core elements in many current edtech tools. Kahoot and Quizlet, for example, provide numerous retrieval formats, reminders, shuffle options and instant feedback. A century of scientific researchdemonstrates that these features don’t simply increase engagement—they also improve learning, higher order thinking and transfer of knowledge.

 

 


From DSC:
Pastors should ask this type of question as well: “What did we talk about the last time we met?” — then give the congregation a minute to write down what they can remember.


 

 

Also from Pooja Agarwal and RetrievalPractice.org

For teachers, here’s what we share in a minute or less about retrieval practice:

And when it comes to students, the first thing we share are Retrieval Warm Ups. These quick, fun questions engage students in class discussion and start a conversation about how retrieval is something we do every day. Try one of these with a teacher to start a conversation about retrieval practice, too!

 

 

Cake, cake, cake. That’s the theme for today’s update! — from Pooja Agarwal and retrievalpractice.org

In addition to loving cake, this sweet delight illustrates how we can best support learning in the classroom: with retrieval practice, formative assessment, and summative assessment.

Read on for yummy goodness:

  • How these three ingredients are similar and different
  • Why this combination makes for a perfect cake
  • Why learning is not a bake off, cupcake war, or throw down (sorry to disappoint!)

Three key ingredients for learning
Chances are, you’re familiar with this two-part process:

Formative assessment: Checking on and monitoring students’ learning, which provides teachers and students with information about progress. We think of formative assessment as inserting a toothpick to see how the cake is doing while it’s baking.

Summative assessment: Discovering what students know by measuring learning. This is when we get to celebrate accomplishments with cake and also get a sense of what can be improved upon.

But where does retrieval practice fit in?

Retrieval practice: Learning how to crack an egg, measure ingredients, and mix it all together. This is when we embrace mistakes rather than emphasize perfection, because challenges are a good thing for learning.

What does this mean for you?

Key similarity: All three involve bringing information to mind. In other words, they all require retrieval! From the outside, it can look like one seamless process, and that’s a good thing. Learning isn’t linear and neither is retrieval.

Key difference: Retrieval practice doesn’t require data collection. Nothing needs to be recorded in the gradebook. Retrieval is a no-stakes opportunity when students can experiment, be challenged, and improve over time.

Takeaway: For powerful learning, we must be mindful of which ingredients we’re using, which stage we’re in, and how we can incorporate even more retrieval practice throughout the entire learning (and baking) process.

 



Also, be sure to see their guides here:

Go to retrievalpractice.org/library to see some great guides on using retrieval practice



 

Experiences in self-determined learning — a free download/PDF file from uni-oldenburg.de by Lisa Blaschke, Chris Kenyon, & Stewart Hase (Eds.)

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

An Introduction to Self-Determined Learning (Heutagogy)

Summary
There is a good deal that is provocative in the theory and principles surrounding self-determined learning or heutagogy. So, it seems appropriate to start off with a, hopefully, eyebrow-raising observation. One of the key ideas underpinning self-determined learning is that learning, and educational and training are quite different things. Humans are born to learn and are very good at it. Learning is a natural capability and it occurs across the human lifespan, from birth to last breath. In contrast, educational and training systems are concerned with the production of useful citizens, who can contribute to the collective economic good. Education and training is largely a conservative enterprise that is highly controlled, is product focused, where change is slow, and the status quo is revered. Learning, however, is a dynamic process intrinsic to the learner, uncontrolled except by the learner’s mental processes. Self-determined learning is concerned with understanding how people learn best and how the methods derived from this understanding can be applied to educational systems. This chapter provides a relatively brief introduction of the origins, the key principles, and the practice of self-determined learning. It also provides a number of resources to enable the interested reader to take learning about the approach further.

Contributors to this book come from around the world: they are everyday practitioners of self-determined learning who have embraced the approach. In doing so, they have chosen the path less taken and set off on a journey of exploration and discovery – a new frontier – as they implement heutagogy in their homes, schools, and workplaces. Each chapter was written with the intent of sharing the experiences of practical applications of heutagogy, while also encouraging those just starting out on the journey in using self-determined learning. The authors in this book are your guides as you move forward and share with you the lessons they have learned along the way. These shared experiences are meant to be read – or dabbled in – in any way that you want to read them. There is no fixed recipe or procedure for tackling the book contents.

At the heart of self-determined learning is that the learner is at the centre of the learning process. Learning is intrinsic to the learner, and the educator is but an agent, as are many of the resources so freely available these days. It is now so easy to access knowledge and skills (competencies), and in informal settings we do this all the time, and we do it well. Learning is complex and non-linear, despite what the curricula might try to dictate. In addition, every brain is different as a result of its experience (as brain research tells us). Each brain will also change as learning takes place with new hypotheses, new needs, and new questions forming, as new neuronal connections are created.

Heutagogy also doesn’t have anything directly to do with self-determination theory (SDT). SDT is a theory of motivation related to acting in healthy and effective ways (Ryan & Deci, 2000). However, heutagogy is related to the philosophical notion of self-determinism and shares a common belief in the role of human agency in behavior.

The idea of human agency is critical to self-determined learning, where learning is learner-directed. Human agency is the notion that humans have the capacity to make choices and decisions, and then act on them in the real world. However, how experiences and learning bring people to make the choices and decisions that they do make, and what actions they may then take is a very complex matter. What we are concerned with in self-determined learning is that people have agency with respect to how, what, and when they learn. It is something that is intrinsic to each individual person. Learning occurs in the learner’s brain, as the result of his or her past and present experiences.

 

The notion of placing the learner at the centre of the learning experience is a key principle of self-determined learning. This principle is the opposite of teacher-centric or, perhaps more accurately curriculum-centric, approaches to learning. This is not to say that the curriculum is not important, just that it needs to be geared to the learner – flexible, adaptable, and be a living document that is open to change.

Teacher-centric learning is an artifact of the industrial revolution when an education system was designed to meet the needs of the factories (Ackoff & Greenberg, 2008) and to “make the industrial wheel go around” (Hase & Kenyon, 2013b). It is time for a change to learner-centred learning and the time is right with easy access to knowledge and skills through the Internet, high-speed communication and ‘devices’. Education can now focus on more complex cognitive activities geared to the needs of the 21st century learner, rather than have its main focus on competence (Blaschke & Hase, 2014; Hase & Kenyon, 2013a).

 

 

 

No-quiz retrieval practice techniques — from thatboycanteach.co.uk by Aidan Severs

Excerpt:

So, although quizzing is one popular (and easy) way of ensuring that facts are remembered and recalled, here are some other ways to prompt retrieval of information from the long-term memory. All of these activities could be done by individuals, in pairs or in groups:

  • Free Recall
  • Retrieve Taking
  • Think Pair Share
  • Two Things
  • Last Lesson, Last Week, Last Month (or Can You Still?)
  • Sorting
  • Linking
  • Stories, Songs, Rhymes and Mnemonics

 

 

From DSC:
I just found out about the work going out at LearningScientists.org.

I was very impressed after my initial review of their materials! What I really appreciate about their work is that they are serious in identifying some highly effective means of how we learn best — pouring over a great deal of research in order to do so. But they don’t leave things there. They help translate that research into things that teachers can then try out in the classroom. This type of practical, concrete help is excellent and needed!

  • Daniel Willingham and some of his colleagues take research and help teachers apply it as well
  • Another person who does this quite well is Pooja Agarwal, an Assistant Professor, Cognitive Scientist, & former K-12 Teacher. Pooja is teaming up with Patrice Bain to write a forthcoming book entitled, Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning!  She founded and operates the RetrievalPractice.org site.)

From the LearningScientists.org website (emphasis DSC):

We are cognitive psychological scientists interested in research on education. Our main research focus is on the science of learning. (Hence, “The Learning Scientists”!)

Our Vision is to make scientific research on learning more accessible to students, teachers, and other educators.

Click the button below to learn more about us. You can also check out our social media pages: FacebookTwitterInstagram, & Tumblr.

 

They have a solid blog, podcast, and some valuable downloadable content.

 

 

 

In the downloadable content area, the posters that they’ve created (or ones like them) should be posted at every single facility where learning occurs — K-12 schools, community colleges, colleges, universities, libraries of all kinds, tutoring centers, etc. It may be that such posters — and others like them that encourage the development of metacognitive skills of our students — are out there. I just haven’t run into them.

For example, here’s a poster on learning how to study using spaced practice:

 

 

 

 

Anyway, there’s some great work out there at LearningScientists.org!

 

 


Also relevant here, see:

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Low-stakes formative assessments offer enormous benefits and should be used extensively throughout K-12, higher education, L&D/corporate universities, in law schools, medical schools, dental schools, and more. 

Below are my notes from the following article – with the provided emphasis/bolding/highlighting via colors, etc. coming from me:

Duhart, Olympia. “The “F” Word: The Top Five Complaints (and Solutions) About Formative Assessment.” Journal of Legal Education, vol. 67, no. 2 (winter 2018), pp. 531-49. <– with thanks to Emily Horvath, Director of Academic Services & Associate Professor, WMU-Cooley Law School

 


 

“No one gets behind the wheel of a car for the first time on the day of the DMV road test. People know that practice counts.” (p. 531)

“Yet many law professors abandon this common-sense principle when it comes to teaching law students. Instead of providing multiple opportunities for practice with plenty of space to fail, adjust, and improve, many law school professors place almost everything on a single high-stakes test at the end of the semester.” (p. 531)

 

“The benefits of formative assessment are supported by cognitive science, learning theory, legal education experts, and common sense. An exhaustive review of the literature on formative assessment in various schools settings has shown that it consistently improves academic performance.” (p. 544)

 

ABA’s new formative assessment standards (see pg 23)
An emphasis on formative assessments, not just a mid-term and/or a final exam – which are typically called “summative assessments.”

“The reliance on a single high-stakes exam at the end of the semester is comparable to taking the student driver straight to the DMV without spending any time practicing behind the wheel of a car. In contrast, formative assessment focuses on a feedback loop. It provides critical information to both the students and instructor about student learning.” (p. 533)

“Now a combination of external pressure and a renewed focus on developing self-regulated lawyers has brought formative assessment front and center for law schools.” (p. 533)

“In fall 2016, the ABA implemented new standards that require the use of formative assessment in law schools. Standard 314 explicitly requires law schools to use both formative and summative assessment to “’measure and improve’ student learning.” (pgs. 533-534)

 

Standard 314. ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING
A law school shall utilize both formative and summative assessment methods in its curriculum to measure and improve student learning and provide meaningful feedback to students.

 Interpretation 314-1
Formative assessment methods are measurements at different points during a particular course or at different points over the span of a student’s education that provide meaningful feedback to improve student learning. Summative assessment methods are measurements at the culmination of a particular course or at the culmination of any part of a student’s legal education that measure the degree of student learning.

 Interpretation 314-2

A law school need not apply multiple assessment methods in any particular course. Assessment methods are likely to be different from school to school. Law schools are not required by Standard 314 to use any particular assessment method.

 


From DSC:
Formative assessments use tests as a learning tool/strategy. They help identify gaps in students’ understanding and can help the instructor adjust their teaching methods/ideas on a particular topic. What are the learners getting? What are they not getting? These types of assessments are especially important in the learning experiences of students in their first year of law school.  All students need feedback, and these assessments can help give them feedback as to how they are doing.

Practice. Repetition. Feedback.  <– all key elements in providing a solid learning experience!


 

“…effective assessment practices are linked to the development of effective lawyers.” (pg. 535)

Low-risk formative assessment give students multiple opportunities to make mistakes and actively engage with the material they are learning.” (p. 537)

Formative assessments force the students to practice recall. This is very helpful in terms of helping students actually remember the information. The spaced out practice of forcing recall – no matter how much the struggle of recalling it – aids in retaining information and moving items into longer-term memory. (See Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, & Mark A. McDaniel). In fact, according to this book’s authors, the more the struggle in recalling the information, the greater the learning.

Formative assessments can help students own their own learning. Self-regulation. Provide opportunities for students to practice meta-cognition – i.e., thinking about their thinking.

“Lawyers need to be experts at self-regulated learning.” (p. 541)

The use of numerous, low-stakes quizzes and more opportunities for feedback reduces test anxiety and can help with the mental health of students. Can reduce depression and help build a community of learners. (p. 542)

“Millennials prefer interactive learning opportunities, regular assessments, and immediate feedback.” (p. 544)

 


Ideas:


  • As a professor, you don’t have to manually grade every formative assessment. Technology can help you out big time. Consider building a test bank of multiple-choice questions and then drawing upon them to build a series of formative assessments. Have the technology grade the exams for you.
    • Digital quizzes using Blackboard Learn, Canvas, etc.
    • Tools like Socrative
  • Alternatively, have the students grade each other’s work or their own work. Formative assessments don’t have to be graded or count towards a grade. The keys are in learners practicing their recall, checking their own understanding, and, for the faculty member, perhaps pointing out the need to re-address something and/or to experiment with one’s teaching methods.
  • Consider the use of rubrics to help make formative assessments more efficient. Rubrics can relay the expectations of the instructors on any given assignment/assessment. Rubrics can also help TA’s grade items or even the students in grading each other’s items.
  • Formative assessments don’t have to be a quiz/test per se. They can be games, presentations, collaborations with each other.

 


For further insights on this topic (and more) from Northwestern University, see:

New ABA Requirements Bring Changes to Law School Classrooms, Creating Opportunity, and Chaos –from blog.northwesternlaw.review by Jacob Wentzel

Excerpt:

Unbeknownst to many students J.D. and L.L.M. students, our classroom experiences are embarking upon a long-term path toward what could be significant changes as a trio of ABA requirements for law schools nationwide begin to take effect.

The requirements are Standards 302, 314, and 315 , each of which defines a new type of requirement: learning outcomes (302), assessments (314), and global evaluations of these (315). According to Christopher M. Martin, Assistant Dean and Clinical Assistant Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, these standards take after similar ones that the Department of Education rolled out for undergraduate universities years ago. In theory, they seek to help law schools improve their effectiveness by, among other things, telling students what they should be learning and tracking students’ progress throughout the semester. Indeed, as a law student, it often feels like you lose the forest for the trees, imbibing immense quantities of information without grasping the bigger picture, let alone the skills the legal profession demands.

By contrast, formative assessment is about assessing students “at different points during a particular course,” precisely when many courses typically do not. Formative assessments are also about generating information and ideas about what professors do in the classroom. Such assessment methods include quizzes, midterms, drafts, rubrics, and more. Again, professors are not required to show students the results of such assessments, but must maintain and collect the data for institutional purposes—to help law schools track how students are learning material during the semester and to make long-term improvements.

 

And/or see a Google query on “ABA new formative assessment standards”

 

 

 

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