Monthly Archives: May 2020

9 little things: teaching and learning are complicated.

Source: file:///home/chronos/u-9b928a3161d09d9cf47df9686c779331e9b283d0/MyFiles/Downloads/-4_19_2018_4-38-00_pm-ver-4.pdf

Stephen Chew is one of my favorite education writers and researchers (and he’s a darn fine fellow as well). His “How to get the most out of studying” YouTube series is incredibly useful and I’m lucky to be his friend. When I get perplexed about a teaching/learning issue related to cognitive psychology, I email Steve.

That happened recently. I’ve been talking with teachers lately about how cognitive load theory can help us think about classroom processes. Teachers say these discussions are useful, but sometimes the discussions end up raising “non-cognitive” issues: teachers often want to talk about students who are reluctant learners. Students who don’t want to learn, who don’t want to try, or who are enter learning experiences convinced that they can’t succeed no matter how hard they try. I’ve written about some similar discussions before, but I decided to ask Steve for resources specific to motivation.

And of course, Steve came through. Steve sent me this article “Learning science and the teachable moment: the importance of the interactions between factors that affect learning.” It’s a really good read: Steve proposes that what we ultimately need is a model of teaching and learning that helps us think about the relationships between 9 factors:

  1. Mindset
  2. Self-regulation/metacognition
  3. Trust/fear
  4. Prior knowledge
  5. Misconceptions
  6. Teaching strategies
  7. Transfer (near and far)
  8. Selective attention
  9. Working memory

This makes a lot of sense. I expect we are a long way away from a complete model of how all 9 of these factors interact in learning situations, but the list and commentary in Steve’s article will help my discussions with teachers be more inclusive of more experiences teachers encounter with students. I love the explosion of resources about cognitive psychology and teaching/learning, but in this article Steve acknowledges that there’s more to teaching and learning. The APA top 20 document covers similar ground. I’m excited to figure out how to use this list of 9 factors as I talk with teachers about how to make teaching decisions in classrooms.