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



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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



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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



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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



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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



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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



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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



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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



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A Little Help, Please…

I’ve got a problem, and I’m hoping you can help me. Here’s the situation… I work as a high school English teacher. And I’m also a consultant – presenting psychology and neuroscience research for teachers and students and parents. In



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Does Higher Engagement Promote Learning?

Long-time readers know: I thoroughly enjoy research that challenges my beliefs. After all, I (probably) have lots to learn when a study makes me think anew. In this case — even better! — I’ve found a study that (I suspect)



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