Family walking toward camera in autumn woods

Walking Promotes Creativity? A Skeptic Weighs In…

When teachers try to use psychology research in the classroom, we benefit from a balance of optimism and skepticism. I confess, I’m often the skeptic. When I hear that – say – “retrieval practice helps students learn,” I hope that’s

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Student Holding Clock

The Most Important 5 Minutes in Class: The Primacy/Recency Effect

As we put our lesson plans together, we teachers want to know: are some minutes more valuable than others? That is: Do students remember most at the 10-minute mark of the lesson, because they’re mentally revved up? Or, perhaps they

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The Roman Coloseum on a sunny day, with lots of people in view

Working Memory in Everyday Life

Imagine this scenario: you’re standing in the CVS toothpaste aisle, trying to decide. You think you should be able to recognize something familiar, but honestly there are so many choices. Which brand are you loyal to? Do you want mint?

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Student lying in bed listening to music on earphones

Earworms and Sleep: What Will They Research Next?

Just last week, I spoke with middle- and upper-school students about learning. We all know — and these students certainly know — that learning is hard. So, does cognitive science have any practical suggestions to help them study and learn? Yes, reader,

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“No Cameras Allowed:” Does Taking Pictures During Lectures Benefit Learning?

Should students use cameras to take pictures of boardwork? My high school students know my fierce anti-cell-phone policy. Nonetheless, they do occasionally ask if they may take a quick picture. (I typically say yes, and then check to be sure

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It’s Funny (but It’s Not): Our Instincts about Learning are Often Badly Wrong

Every now and then, research is just plain funny. Here’s the story: If you’ve spent even a hot minute at a Learning and the Brain conference, you know that multitasking is not a thing. When we undertake two cognitively demanding

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Test Anxiety: How and When Does It Harm Students?

When our students learn, we naturally want them to show us what they’ve learned. Most schools rely, in varying degrees, on tests. The logic seems simple: if students know something, they can demonstrate their knowledge on this quiz, or test, or exam.

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Does Mindfulness Help? A Blockbuster New Study

Few ideas in education sound better than mindfulness. If mindfulness programs work as intended, teachers and schools can help students center their attention and lower their stress. We’ve got suggestive research indicating that, when done properly, such programs can improve

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The Unexpected Problem with Learning Styles Theory

I recently read a much-liked Twitter post that said (I’m paraphrasing here): If you try to debunk Learning Styles Theory and you face unexpected resistance, start looking for the profit motive. Hmmm. To be clear: learning styles theory just doesn’t

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Marshmallows and Beyond: Cultural Influences on Self-Regulation

Few psychology studies have created a bigger stir than Walter Mishel’s research into marshmallows. Okay, he was really doing research into self-control. But the marshmallow images were adorable: all those cute children desperately trying not to eat one marshmallow right

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