When Analogies Go Wrong: The Benefits of Stress?

An amazing discovery becomes an inspiring analogy: Researchers at BioSphere 2 noticed a bizarre series of events: their trees kept collapsing under their own weight. Why on earth would trees collapse? It doesn’t happen outside the BioSphere; so why would

Failure to Disrupt by Justin Reich

Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education is a well-written critical synthesis of overzealous claims and unrealistic attempts to revolutionize education through technology. Its author, Justin Reich, is an Assistant Professor in the Comparative Media Studies department at

Handwritten Notes or Laptop Notes: A Skeptic Converted?

Here’s a practical question: should our students take notes by hand, or on laptops? If we were confident that one strategy or the other produced more learning – factual learning, conceptual learning, ENDURING learning – then we could give our

Too Good to Be True? “Even Short Nature Walks Improve Cognition”?

Good news makes me nervous. More precisely: if I want to believe a research finding, I become very suspicious of it. After all: it’s easy to fool me when I want to be fooled. Specifically: I’m an outdoors guy. I’ve worked at

Working Memory: Make it Bigger, or Use it Better?

Cognitive science has LOTS of good news for teachers. Can we help students remember ideas and skills better? Yes, we can! (Check out retrieval practice and other desirable difficulties). Can we promote students’ attention? Yes, we can! (Posner and Rothbart’s

Learning How to Learn: Do Video Games Help?

Long-time readers know: I like research that surprises me. If a study confirms a belief I already have, I’m glad for that reinforcement. However, I have more to learn when a study challenges my beliefs. As you’ll see below, I’m

The Art of Insubordination by Todd Kashdan

The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively, a provocative title in a time of incredible social turmoil. One may think Todd B. Kashdan focuses on defying a system that is oppressive and conformist; the title brings to

Don’t Hate on Comic Sans; It Helps Dyslexic Readers (Asterisk)

People have surprising passions. Some friends regularly announce that the Oxford comma is a hill they’re ready to die on. (I’m an English teacher, and yet I wonder: you’re willing to die over a punctuation mark?) With equal energy and

Perspectives on Critical Thinking: Can We Teach It? How Do We Know?

Imagine the following scenario: A school principal gathers wise cognitive scientists to ask a straightforward question… “Because critical thinking is an essential 21st century skill, we know our students need to develop critical thinking skills. If we want to create

Do Classroom Decorations Distract Students? A Story in 4 Parts…

Teacher training programs often encourage us to brighten our classrooms with lively, colorful, personal, and uplifting stuff: Inspirational posters. Students’ art work. Anchor charts. Word walls. You know the look. We certainly hope that these decorations invite our students in