Monthly Archives: June 2018

Just Not a Useful Debate: Learning Styles Theory

At one of the first Learning and the Brain conferences I attended, a speaker briefly mentioned that learning styles theory doesn’t have much good evidence to support it. That comment turned into a heated debate. Several attendees asked vexed, unhappy



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The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius by Gail Salt

Gail Saltz, author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius, argues that given the heterogeneity in human brain functioning “the very phrase brain differences is a redundancy.” This book describes traits and gifts associated with seven



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Capture Intergalactic Criminals; Feel the Mental Burn

I’ve posted a good bit recently about the dangers of working memory overload. (For instance: here and here.) Teachers can understand the dangers of WM overload. However, we rarely experience WM overload in school. Because we’re in charge of the lesson,



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Putting Research to Work in the Classroom: Success?

Some study habits have been shown to work in psychology labs. Do they work in college classrooms? A recent study shows that “retrieval practice” clearly helps students learn. The findings on “the spacing effect” are harder to interpret… Continue reading



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A Hidden Adolescent Struggle: Identifying Complex Emotions

Recent research offers a helpful insight into adolescent emotion processing. Children and adults are relatively good at distinguishing among their emotions. They can say “I’m feeling angry, but not sad.” Adolescents, however, have a harder time sorting out their feelings. For them, negative emotions all churn together. Continue reading



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The Best Way to Take Notes: More Feisty Debate

When teachers contemplate asking students to take longhand notes, we should think about the level of desirable difficulty this strategy creates. We should also beware the working memory challenges inherent in note-taking, especially on complex material. Continue reading



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The Great Homework Debate: Working Memory Disadvantage?

New research into working memory might give teachers fresh perspective in the great homework debate. Well-designed homework might make new words and concepts easier to learn, because the right kind of practice can reduce differences between high- and low-working-memory students. Continue reading



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Pro Tips: How To Think Like A Cognitive Scientist

A short, “intensive” college course might seem like a good idea. However, essential cognitive science principles suggest that students will learn less in them. Researchers consistently show that it’s better to spread learning out over time, and that easy learning doesn’t last. Continue reading



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Is Dopamine For Motivation or Learning?

Neuroscientists talk a lot about neurotransmitters. These chemicals move from one neuron to another at synapses, and in this way help brain cells communicate with each other. We’ve got several dozen different kinds of neurotransmitters. Some you never hear about. When



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