The College Classroom (Wi14) Week 2: How People Learn


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Peter Newbury and Beth Simon
Center for Teaching Development
University of California, San Diego
14 January 2014

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The College Classroom (Wi14) Week 2: How People Learn

  1. 1. Week 2: How People Learn The College Classroom January 14 and 16, 2014
  2. 2. 2 #tccucsd
  3. 3. Evidence-based teaching 3 We know How People Learn. [1] There is research that informs us. Let’s exploit the patterns of learning to make instruction more effective. #tccucsd
  4. 4. “…exploit the patterns…” 4 What is this number? 1 5 6 7 #tccucsd 3 4 2 8 9
  5. 5. How People Learn, Chapter 1 matrix 5 #tccucsd
  6. 6. Key Finding – 1 6 Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom. (How People Learn, p 14.) #tccucsd
  7. 7. Discussion 7 1. (re)Introduce yourselves to the others at your table. 2. Tell the others at your table about how, in the class you observed, the instructor   successfully engaged failed to engage the students’ preconceptions and initial understanding. How did you know? (10 minutes) #tccucsd
  8. 8. Implications for Teaching – 1 8 Teachers must draw out and work with the preexisting understandings that their students bring with them. (How People Learn, p 19.) #tccucsd
  9. 9. Designing Classroom Environments – 1 9 Schools and classrooms must be learner centered. (How People Learn, p. 23) Students need to “encounter safe yet challenging conditions in which they can try, fail, receive feedback, and try again without facing summative evaluation” (What the best college teachers do, p.108) #tccucsd
  10. 10. Learning requires interaction [3] 10 #tccucsd
  11. 11. Learning requires interaction [3] 11 Learning gain: 100% 0.50 % of class time NOT lecturing 0 #tccucsd pre-test post-test
  12. 12. Learning requires interaction [3] 12 Each point is <g> on a standard astronomy concept inventory in one of 52 classes from size 25 students to >100, at 2- and 4-yr colleges and research universities across U.S. #tccucsd
  13. 13. Learning requires interaction [3] 13 1 2 3 4 #tccucsd
  14. 14. Key Findings – 2 14 To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must: (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (c) organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application. (How People Learn, p. 16) #tccucsd
  15. 15. 15 #tccucsd
  16. 16. Tic-Tac-Toe code 16 1= 4= 7= 1 2 3 2= 5= 8= 4 5 6 3= 6= 9= 7 8 9 unsupported, unfamiliar content #tccucsd built on pre-existing knowledge and organized for retrieval
  17. 17. Implications for Teaching – 2 17 Teachers must teach some subject matter in depth, providing many examples in which the same concept is at work and providing a firm foundation of factual knowledge. (How People Learn, p. 20) #tccucsd
  18. 18. Discussion 18 Tell the others at your table about how, in the class you observed, the instructor talked about (or didn’t talk about) the framework of concepts and the organization and retrieval of the concepts. (5 minutes) #tccucsd
  19. 19. Designing Classroom Environments – 2 19 To provide a knowledge-centered classroom environment, attention must be given to what is taught (information, subject matter), why it is taught (understanding), and what competence or mastery looks like. (How People Learn, p. 24) #tccucsd
  20. 20. Key Findings – 3 20 A “metacognitive” approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them. (How People Learn, p 18.) #tccucsd
  21. 21. Aside: metacognition 21 Metacognition refers to one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes or anything related to them. For example, I am engaging in metacognition if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B. ([4], [5]) meta cognition #tccucsd
  22. 22. Key Findings – 3 22 A “metacognitive” approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them. (How People Learn, p. 18) #tccucsd
  23. 23. Implications for Teaching – 3 23 The teaching of metacognitive skills should be integrated into the curriculum in a variety of subject areas. (How People Learn, p. 21) #tccucsd
  24. 24. Designing Classroom Environments – 3 24 Formative assessments — ongoing assessments designed to make students’ thinking visible to both teachers and students — are essential. They permit the teacher to grasp the students’ preconceptions, understand where the students are in the “developmental corridor” from informal to formal thinking, and design instruction accordingly. In the assessment-centered classroom environment, formative assessments help both teachers and students monitor progress. (How People Learn, p. 24) #tccucsd
  25. 25. Designing Classroom Environments – 3 25 Another way to “teach metacognitive skills”  write a blog post Writing blog posts help you to be metacognitive: it’s something the students should do. So what should the instructor do?  ask students to write blog posts   provide them with the tools to write posts help them set up their own blogs If you’re interested, talk to Peter #tccucsd upcoming TCC homework
  26. 26. Your classroom observations 26 Did anyone observe a time when students had an opportunity to be metacognitive – to have an internal dialogue about their understanding of the concepts?  How did the instructor prompt them?  e.g.  What task did the instructor give them?  e.g. #tccucsd
  27. 27. Putting How People Learn theory into practice
  28. 28. Introductory Chemistry 28 [First make sure students are prepared to engage in interesting, perplexing problems] Today, we’ll be learning about changes of state. Remember, there are 3 states (also called “phases”) of matter:  solid  liquid  gas #tccucsd
  29. 29. Clicker question 29 Melt chocolate over low heat. Remove the chocolate from the heat. What will happen to the chocolate? A) It will condense. B) It will evaporate. C) It will freeze. (Question: Sujatha Raghu from Braincandy via LearningCatalytics) (Image: CIM9926 by number657 on flickr CC) #tccucsd
  30. 30. Typical Episode of Peer Instruction (PI) 30 1. Instructor poses a conceptually-challenging multiple-choice question. 2. Students think about question on their own and vote using clickers, colored ABCD cards, smartphones,… 3. The instructor asks students to turn to their neighbors and “convince them you’re right.” 4. After that “peer instruction”, the students vote again and the instructor leads a class-wide discussion concluding with why the right answer(s) is right and the wrong answers are wrong. #tccucsd an “agile” instructor can try variations on 3 – 4
  31. 31. In effective peer instruction 31  students teach each other while they may still hold or remember their novice preconceptions  students discuss the concepts in their own (novice) language students learn and practice how to think, communicate like experts  the instructor finds out what the students know (and don’t know) and reacts, building on their initial understanding and preconceptions. #tccucsd
  32. 32. Effective peer instruction requires 32 1. identifying key concepts, misconceptions 2. creating multiple-choice questions that require deeper thinking and learning 3. facilitating peer instruction episodes that spark student discussion 4. resolving the misconceptions Teacher C (HPL p. 12) #tccucsd before class during class
  33. 33. Peer Instruction and How People Learn 33 #tccucsd
  34. 34. Week 3: Development of Expertise Watch the blog for the Week 3 Homework
  35. 35. References 35 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. National Research Council (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. J.D. Bransford, A.L Brown & R.R. Cocking (Eds.),Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Prather, E.E, Rudolph, A.L., Brissenden, G., & Schlingman, W.M. (2009). A national study assessing the teaching and learning of introductory astronomy. Part I. The effect of interactive instruction. Am. J. Phys. 77, 4, 320-330. Flavell, J. H. (1976). Metacognitive aspects of problem solving. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence (pp.231-236). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Brame, C. (2013). Thinking about metacognition. [blog] January, 2013, Available at: [Accessed: 14 Jan 2013]. #tccucsd