Monthly Archives: November 2017


Welcome to “the Messiness”

In a recent interview on this blog, Dr. Pooja K. Agarwal spoke about the benefits of retrieval practice: a study technique that–in her words–focuses on pulling information OUT of students’ brains rather than getting it back IN. For example: if I

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The Benefits of Prediction; the Dangers of Vocabulary

What’s the best way to study complex material? Working with Charles Atwood at the University of Utah, Brock Casselman tried an idea: He had students in a general chemistry class do weekly online problems and practice tests; after completing that

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Now Even the New York Times Has It Wrong

Here’s a hypothetical situation: Let’s say that psychology researchers clearly demonstrate that retrieval practice helps students form long-term memories better than rereading the textbook does. However, despite this clear evidence, these researchers nonetheless emphatically recommend that students avoid retrieval practice

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Good News about Concept Mapping

This meta-analysis, which looks at studies including almost 12,000 students, concludes that creating concept maps does indeed promote learning. Specifically, it’s better than simply looking at concept maps, or listening to lectures, or participating in discussions, or even writing summaries. The

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The Benefits of Forgetting

As teachers, we earnestly want our students to REMEMBER what they learned; their habit of FORGETTING leave us glum and frustrated. (In truth, our own forgetting often leaves us glum and frustrated. If you could tell me where I put my

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Neuroplasticity in Rural India

You hear so much about “neuroplasticity” at Learning and the Brain conferences that you already know its meaning: brains have the ability to change. In fact, you hear about neuroplasticity so often that you might start to lose interest. You say

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Correlation Isn’t Causation, Is It?

(Image source) The ever provocative Freddie deBoer explores the relationship between correlation and causation. You know, of course, that the one does not imply the other. DeBoer, however, wants to push your certainty on this point. Are there circumstances under

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The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children by Alison Gopnik

Parents—a noun, something an individual may be—have existed for as long as there have been children. The idea of “parenting” as a verb, something one does, is a new, odd, and problematic cultural change for parents and children alike. Alison

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The 2017 Transforming Education Through Neuroscience Award Was Presented on Sunday at the Learning & the Brain® Educational Conference in Boston

Dr. Daniel T. Willingham from the University of Virginia was presented with the “2017 Transforming Education Through Neuroscience Award” for his contributions to the field of Mind, Brain, and Education during the Learning & the Brain® educational conference in Boston,

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Home News

In the excitement of this weekend’s Learning and the Brain conference, I overlooked my own one-year anniversary as editor of this blog. I’ve enjoyed the chance to think aloud with you about teaching, psychology, neuroscience, research–and all the odd topics

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