“Compared to What”: Is Retrieval Practice Really Better?

When teachers turn to brain research, we want to know: which way is better? Are handwritten notes better than laptop notes? Is cold-calling better than calling on students who raise their hands? Is it better to spread practice out over time,

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Making “Learning Objectives” Explicit: A Skeptic Converted?

Teachers have long gotten guidance that we should make our learning objectives explicit to our students. The formula goes something like this: “By the end of the lesson, you will be able to [know and do these several things].” I’ve

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Introducing “Interteaching” (Works Online Too!)

Have you heard of “interteaching” before? Me neither. The headlines for this blog sound like this: “INTERTEACHING” HELPFULLY BALANCES TEACHER AND STUDENT EFFORT/RESPONSIBILITY and “INTERTEACHING” WORKS ONLINE AND ASYNCHRONOUSLY, according to recent research. Let’s take those headlines one at a

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The Rise and Fall and Rise of Growth Mindset

Few theories in education have had a more dramatic story arc than Carol Dweck’s “Mindset.” Based on research she started in the early 1970s, Dweck published her sumptuously-titled book Mindset, The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to

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Proxy Battles: The Value of Handshakes at the Door

Should teachers welcome students to the classroom with elaborate individual handshakes? Or — in these COVIDian days of ours — with elaborate dances? (If you’re on Twitter, you can check out @thedopeeducator’s post from March 17 of 2021 for an

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The 10-Minute Rule: Is The Lecture Dead?

The “10-minute rule” offers teachers practical guidance. It typically sounds something like this: If students aren’t intrinsically interested in material, they can pay attention to it for no more than 10 minutes. Ergo: teachers should do something different every ten

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To Grade or Not to Grade: Should Retrieval Practice Quizzes Be Scored?

We’ve seen enough research on retrieval practice to know: it rocks. When students simply review material (review their notes; reread the chapter), that mental work doesn’t help them learn. However, when they try to remember (quiz themselves, use flashcards), this kind

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What (and Why) Should Students Memorize? Confidence and Fluency for the Win

In our profession, memorization has gotten a bad name. The word conjures up alarming images: Dickensian brutes wielding rulers, insisting on “facts, facts, facts!” In a world when students “can look up anything on the interwebs,” why do we ask students

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Prior Knowledge: Building the Right Floor [Updated]

Researchers can demonstrate that some core knowledge is essential for students to start learning about a topic. Teachers can use that guidance to improve learning for all students. Continue reading

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Assembling the Big Classroom Picture

The last 20 years have brought about powerful new ways to think about teaching and learning. When teachers combine our experience, professional traditions, and instincts with the scientific insights of psychology and neuroscience research, we find new ways to understand

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