Yearly Archives: 2017

Bilingual Preschoolers and Self-Control

If you can speak two or more languages, you’re likely to have some real advantages in life. For starters, you can talk easily with lots more people, and turn off the subtitles on more movies. Are there cognitive benefits to



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understanding brain waves

Beyond Mere “Memory”

Newcomers to the field of psychology and neuroscience often want to learn as much as they can about a student’s memory system. After all: when students learn something new, that means their memory has changed. So, if we know how



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Autonomy and Motivation

Self-determination theory, developed by Edward Deci & Richard Ryan, argues that people are motivated by a desire for three things: autonomy, relatedness, and competence. (Here‘s a handy place to brush up on self-determination theory.) This theory suggests that teachers can



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Brain Training and Dementia

When you see claims for an exciting new brain training finding (the headline crows “Dementia Breakthrough? Brain training game ‘significantly reduces risk’ “), you can expect to see the skeptics respond very quickly. As the Guardian reports, the study didn’t



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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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