What every teacher should know about         cognitive research                            Or                      How Peo...
Physics Education Research Faculty Collaborators:                         @CU                                            ...
Major advances past 1-2 decadesConsistent picture ⇒ Achieving learningclassroom                     brain  studies        ...
Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important   (Learning as brain dev...
What’s your job during this          talk?
Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important   (Learning as brain dev...
What are our goals in class?  Novice                                          Expert  Formulas &                          ...
What makes an expert thinker?Changing the brainnot just more informed-- new way to think.Learning requires active construc...
Experts are organized             or ?
Learning to perceive like experts                   Pointing it out is not enough!        Exemplar                        ...
A study: It’s valuable to invent• One set of students read a chapter and  then hear a lecture about it• Another set of stu...
Invention Activities               creating a time for telling   • Instead of a lesson on density…   • Create a “crowded c...
How might you help studentsstruggle to find structure before    telling them the answer?
Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important   (Learning as brain dev...
Motivation is important
If you see no reason to learn,       you won’t bother!Learning takes effort
Discussion question  “This class is very hard and many of you will fail  so you need to study really hard.”How does this i...
What does motivate?a. Subject relevant to lives, oranswers questions they careabout (“meaningful context”)b. Instructor at...
Attitudes and Beliefs* Examples: • “I study physics to learn knowledge that   will be useful in life.” • “To learn physics...
Can we affect students’ beliefs?                               Shift (%) “CLASS” survey of                                ...
why does this happen?
Trad’l Model of EducationStudentsaren’t blankslates….
Built in to our classes?
Where does our model come from…            – Sumer, circa 3000 BCE
Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important   (Learning as brain dev...
actively engaging students        is important Learning is changing our brain “constructivism!”
A wake-up call• Force Concept Inventory*• Multiple choice survey, (pre/post)• Instructors thought students would do  well ...
Sample questionLooking down at a track (flat on table), a ball enters at point 1 and exitsat point 2. Which path does it f...
How much do students learn the             traditional way? (The FCI)physics force concept survey                         ...
But by actively engagingstudents based on what they          know…
traditional lecture       interactive engagement                       Clickers only (at CU)                       Clicker...
How did you learn?
How can you actively engage        students?
Expert Tutors *1.   Motivation major focus … pique curiosity…limited praise,     never for person, all for process3.   Und...
Feedback is importantIf we’re to change how we think, we  need feedback on our thinkingWhat does that mean?What kind of ...
Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important   (Learning as brain dev...
what people know affects    what they learn      Context matters!
Tools allow thoughtA Story of Galileo: 6 theorems of a geniusTheorem: If a moving particle, carried uniformly atconstant s...
The card gameRule: If there is a vowel on one side,there is an even number on the otherVerify the rule for: A 2 L 5
The bartender gameYou are a bartender and need to verifythat the following drink orders/ agesdon’t break the law: if you d...
So what?Use students’ prior knowledge as a tool – not something to be erased. They’re not blank slates!
Stroop test
Stroop Test ][
Stroop ///rot, grün, blau, gelb, rosafarben,orange, blau, grün, blau, weiß,grün, gelb, orange, blau, weiß,braun, rot, blau...
Strong indication:Prior knowledge matters
How can you use students’    prior knowledge?
Where does prior knowledge  come into play in class?• Harmful?• Helpful?• Does “scaffolding” have anything to do  with any...
The importance of contextThe procedure is quite simple. First arrange items into different groups. Of course one pile may ...
Foreground / Background                   From: R. McDermott ‘93
Strong indication:CONTEXT matters
Context in the classroom• Where can/do we take into account  students’ prior knowledge?• Where does context come into our ...
PhET Computer Simulations               http://phet.colorado.edu                Free online simulations• Engaging• Visual•...
Visual Models
Comparing Activity DesignMake the man start at           Sketch what you think the -5 meter mark, move with graphs will lo...
Circuit Construction Kit (CCK)
Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important   (Learning as brain dev...
Memory is limitedMr. Anderson, May I be excused?My brain is full.
How much do you remember      from this talk already?         Probably 10% of you remember any non-obvious fact           ...
Want to remember this talk?– Study it over several days– Test yourself on it– Explain it to someone
Mental connections help             retentione.g. give lesson on fasteners-- here areall the types and how they are used.v...
Working Memory Capacity         VERY LIMITED!         every added demand hurts         learning (“cognitive load”)        ...
How can we reduce cognitive          load?
Expert Tutors *1.   Motivation major focus (context, pique curiosity,...)limited     praise, never for person, all for pro...
It’s not about our teaching,it’s about student learning
Conclusions• Educational practice is a researchable endeavor  – We can make systematic progress  – Imperative to include p...
FinMuch more at: per.colorado.edu
What every teacher should know about cognitive science
What every teacher should know about cognitive science
What every teacher should know about cognitive science
What every teacher should know about cognitive science
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What every teacher should know about cognitive science

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This is a presentation that I've given a few times for GK12 programs at CU, with some main messages on how people learn and a non-exhaustive look at findings from cognitive science, and how these ideas might apply to the classroom.

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  • Many Thanks… - Marty G. for ceding his spot… I look forward to it in the spring I’m excited to be speaking with you all today and will be focusing on the field of PER, the broad reseach lines, and some specifics… Basically a bit of the how, when where going of PER --- with the caveat that this is my take. 15 min intor - through CC (10 intro 5 CC) 20 min reps/ analoogy 15 min tutorials 2 min conclusion.
  • We are one of the largest physics education research groups in the country, with many faculty, postdocs and graduate students.
  • Why physicists is implicit… need to make more explicit? Include APS backing etc? #’s stats… etc
  • Why physicists is implicit… need to make more explicit? Include APS backing etc? #’s stats… etc
  • Traditionally just content
  • Built into long term memory-- new “wiring” Expert-like ways of thinking-- Brain is changing-- See in brain activation and imaging studies Understand in terms of chemical and biological basis of long-term memory See in development of expertise
  • Expert competence = factual knowledge + Organizational structure  effective retrieval and use of facts
  • A cell in biology class. Without expert thinking,
  • Why physicists is implicit… need to make more explicit? Include APS backing etc? #’s stats… etc
  • XXX!!!
  • Study showed that trait of experts is that they work hard Survival trail No reason to expend energy if there’s no reason to = survival strategy Motivation is highly malleable… depends on perspective!
  • NOT AFFECT
  • Do we have any chaance of affecting student attitudes /beliefs: good news: yes Bad news worse
  • Faculty tend to: teach as taught believe that manipulation of formula imply deep understanding be subject to wishful thinking / anecdotal data traditional model: transmissionist
  • Earliest known form of mass education - writing cuneiform brings with it certain forms of interaction - process-oriented mastery
  • Why physicists is implicit… need to make more explicit? Include APS backing etc? #’s stats… etc
  • Value of FCI Based on research Refocus on concepts Quantitative basis for comparing curricula Wake up call
  • Feedback is important
  • Clickers Group work
  • Timely specific feedback Tests, homework, peers, clicker questions
  • Why physicists is implicit… need to make more explicit? Include APS backing etc? #’s stats… etc
  • Galileo - Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences (early part of 17th C) This is thrm 1 of 6
  • Misconceptions are very robust. Need to show students there is a reason to re-evaluate understanding. Helpful is using context and other hooks Scaffolding - learning is incremental. Bring people forward based on their current expertise?
  • Analogy to lecturing… students can’t make meaning without the context of laundry… A problem with powerpoint?
  • What do you see? Trace out the spiral Where is the spiral -- can it exist “decontextualized” I.e. w/o th ebackground?
  • Inner most layer and next layer are significant
  • Say: About 60 simulations have been created, covering topics in physics and chemistry. The sims are all available for free on the PhET website, and can be downloaded. This is the PhET homepage. When this slide is up clicking on Physics should link to the installed web page on Trish’s computer. Once the webpage is open, we are going to go through the following: Simulations are grouped under these topics. (scroll) Clicking on the icon launches a simulation. (scroll) (But don’t launch one yet.) CCK Step through features Add equipment (looks realistic) Shows electrons (underlying model) Right click to change values (easy to change variables) Show how to use meters ( note the virtual meter allows the students to think about the factors without moving equipment) Show schematic view More advanced features available too.
  • Talk in your group about these two . Share out. Specific learning goals –both lessons have the same learning goals But this one meets our guidelines for example: First it, Connects to students’ experiences - cell phone Next there is a Connection to students’ knowledge – prediction in A. There are Minimal directions- B just says test, no specifics about sim features given Students are asked to reason and make sense Students self-check understanding- B To get the most out of this lesson, students would be working in collaborative groups.
  • Show sim. Attend to real life Make visual constrain
  • Why physicists is implicit… need to make more explicit? Include APS backing etc? #’s stats… etc
  • Spaced vs massed study. 1 hr for 5 days not 5 hrs for one day We learn by being tested, by retrieval. Explaining is a form of retrieval
  • Connect to prior knowledge Use figures and visuals
  • What every teacher should know about cognitive science

    1. 1. What every teacher should know about cognitive research Or How People Learn GK12 Fellows February, 2010 Dr. Stephanie Chasteen Physics Department University of Colorado at Boulder Stephanie.Chasteen@Colorado.EDU
    2. 2. Physics Education Research Faculty Collaborators: @CU Ph.D. Students: Michael Dubson Chandra Turpen Noah Finkelstein Charles Baily Susan Jurow Post Docs & Lauren Kost Ben Kirshner Ben Spike Valerie Otero Scientists: Kara Gray * Kathy Perkins * Wendy Adams Heidi Iverson Steven Pollock * Steve Goldhaber May Lee Patricia Rankin Mike Ross Laurel Mayhew * Paul Beale Robert Talbot •* Carl Wieman Archie Paulson Noah Podolefsky Me * = Science Education Initiative This material is based upon work supported by the Science Education Initiative and National Science Foundation Grant # 0737118.
    3. 3. Major advances past 1-2 decadesConsistent picture ⇒ Achieving learningclassroom brain studies research cognitive psychology
    4. 4. Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important (Learning as brain development)5. What people know affects what they learn (context is important)6. What we remember is affected by how our brain works (the limits of retention)
    5. 5. What’s your job during this talk?
    6. 6. Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important (Learning as brain development)5. What people know affects what they learn (context is important)6. What we remember is affected by how our brain works (the limits of retention)
    7. 7. What are our goals in class? Novice Expert Formulas & Concepts & content “plug ‘n chug” Problem Solving Pieces structure Coherence By Authority process Independent (experiment) Drudgery affect Joy think about science like a scientistAdapted from: Hammer (1997) COGNITION AND INSTRUCTION (physics),
    8. 8. What makes an expert thinker?Changing the brainnot just more informed-- new way to think.Learning requires active construction of understanding.
    9. 9. Experts are organized or ?
    10. 10. Learning to perceive like experts Pointing it out is not enough! Exemplar Contrasting CasesPickSameBreed
    11. 11. A study: It’s valuable to invent• One set of students read a chapter and then hear a lecture about it• Another set of students analyze and graph data, deciding what they think is important to graph• # A third set played around with graphing the data and then heard a lecture about it.
    12. 12. Invention Activities creating a time for telling • Instead of a lesson on density… • Create a “crowded clown” index * Schwartz, D. L., Bransford, J. D., Sears, D. L. (2005). Efficiencyand innovation in transfer
    13. 13. How might you help studentsstruggle to find structure before telling them the answer?
    14. 14. Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important (Learning as brain development)5. What people know affects what they learn (context is important)6. What we remember is affected by how our brain works (the limits of retention)
    15. 15. Motivation is important
    16. 16. If you see no reason to learn, you won’t bother!Learning takes effort
    17. 17. Discussion question “This class is very hard and many of you will fail so you need to study really hard.”How does this impact university student motivationto learn the material?a. increases b. decreases Focus groups and interviews indicate is demotivating for university students. Psychology studies support.
    18. 18. What does motivate?a. Subject relevant to lives, oranswers questions they careabout (“meaningful context”)b. Instructor attitude “Subject hard for everyone, but allcan master with effort, and my goalfor course is for all of you to succeed.”
    19. 19. Attitudes and Beliefs* Examples: • “I study physics to learn knowledge that will be useful in life.” • “To learn physics, I only need to memorize solutions to sample problems”*Adams et al, (2006). Physical Review: Spec. Topics: PER, 0201010
    20. 20. Can we affect students’ beliefs? Shift (%) “CLASS” survey of Expert-like beliefsReal world connect... -6Personal interest........ -8 The good news: yes…Sense making/effort... -12Conceptual................ -11Math understanding... -10Problem Solving........ -7 Worse forConfidence................ -17 females!Nature of science....... +5 (All ±2%) Students come out of introductory classes with more negative views of physics than they came in with!
    21. 21. why does this happen?
    22. 22. Trad’l Model of EducationStudentsaren’t blankslates….
    23. 23. Built in to our classes?
    24. 24. Where does our model come from… – Sumer, circa 3000 BCE
    25. 25. Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important (Learning as brain development)5. What people know affects what they learn (context is important)6. What we remember is affected by how our brain works (the limits of retention)
    26. 26. actively engaging students is important Learning is changing our brain “constructivism!”
    27. 27. A wake-up call• Force Concept Inventory*• Multiple choice survey, (pre/post)• Instructors thought students would do well on this survey necessary (not sufficient) indicator of conceptual understanding.* Hestenes, Wells, Swackhamer, Physics Teacher 20, (92) 141
    28. 28. Sample questionLooking down at a track (flat on table), a ball enters at point 1 and exitsat point 2. Which path does it follow as it exits (neglect all friction)?
    29. 29. How much do students learn the traditional way? (The FCI)physics force concept survey Basic traditional lectureTake home message: Students learn less than 25% of the most basic concepts (that they don’t already know). 0.25 0.50 Learned less Learned more Fraction learnedR. Hake, ”…A six-thousand-student survey…” AJP 66, 64-74 (‘98).
    30. 30. But by actively engagingstudents based on what they know…
    31. 31. traditional lecture interactive engagement Clickers only (at CU) Clickers and more (at CU) 0.25 0.50 Learned less Learned more Fraction learned
    32. 32. How did you learn?
    33. 33. How can you actively engage students?
    34. 34. Expert Tutors *1. Motivation major focus … pique curiosity…limited praise, never for person, all for process3. Understands what students do and do not know ⇒ timely, specific, interactive feedback5. Almost never tell students anything-- pose questions.7. Mostly students answering questions & explaining.9. Asking right questions so students challenged but can figure out. Systematic progression.11. Let students make mistakes, then discover and fix.13. Require reflection: how solved, explain, generalize,… *Lepper and Woolverton pg 135 in Improving Academic Achievement
    35. 35. Feedback is importantIf we’re to change how we think, we need feedback on our thinkingWhat does that mean?What kind of feedback is most helpful?How can students get it?
    36. 36. Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important (Learning as brain development)5. What people know affects what they learn (context is important)6. What we remember is affected by how our brain works (the limits of retention)
    37. 37. what people know affects what they learn Context matters!
    38. 38. Tools allow thoughtA Story of Galileo: 6 theorems of a geniusTheorem: If a moving particle, carried uniformly atconstant speed traverses two distances, then the algebratime interval required are to each other in the ratio oftheir distances. (followed by 2 page geometric proof). d1 = r * t1 t1 d1 = d2 = r * t 2 t 2 d2 From diSessa (2000) Changing Minds
    39. 39. The card gameRule: If there is a vowel on one side,there is an even number on the otherVerify the rule for: A 2 L 5
    40. 40. The bartender gameYou are a bartender and need to verifythat the following drink orders/ agesdon’t break the law: if you drink alcoholyou must be 21 or olderGin/ Age: Age: CokeTonic 16 52 Adapted from Johnson-Laird ‘83
    41. 41. So what?Use students’ prior knowledge as a tool – not something to be erased. They’re not blank slates!
    42. 42. Stroop test
    43. 43. Stroop Test ][
    44. 44. Stroop ///rot, grün, blau, gelb, rosafarben,orange, blau, grün, blau, weiß,grün, gelb, orange, blau, weiß,braun, rot, blau, gelb, grün,rosafarben, gelb, grün, blau, rot
    45. 45. Strong indication:Prior knowledge matters
    46. 46. How can you use students’ prior knowledge?
    47. 47. Where does prior knowledge come into play in class?• Harmful?• Helpful?• Does “scaffolding” have anything to do with any of this?
    48. 48. The importance of contextThe procedure is quite simple. First arrange items into different groups. Of course one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step; otherwise, you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important but complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first, the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then, one can never tell. After the procedure is completed one arranges the material into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, this is part of life. * Bransford, & Johnson(1972). Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 11, 717-726
    49. 49. Foreground / Background From: R. McDermott ‘93
    50. 50. Strong indication:CONTEXT matters
    51. 51. Context in the classroom• Where can/do we take into account students’ prior knowledge?• Where does context come into our instruction?
    52. 52. PhET Computer Simulations http://phet.colorado.edu Free online simulations• Engaging• Visual• Real-world
    53. 53. Visual Models
    54. 54. Comparing Activity DesignMake the man start at Sketch what you think the -5 meter mark, move with graphs will look like for this story that Jill told:constant speed to the 2meter mark and then “Bobby was talking to me on hisaccelerates to the 8 meter cell phone standing by his car. Can create activities that:mark. -Connect to student experiences signal was poor, so The phone -Connect to student knowledge (prediction) houseA. Sketch the position, he walked toward his trying to get a better signal and -Ask students to reason and make sensevelocity and acceleration then stood still so we could talk.”graphs that you see. A. Explain why each part of yourB. How do the three graph makes sense.graphs relate? B. Test your ideas using the simulation
    55. 55. Circuit Construction Kit (CCK)
    56. 56. Outline2. What makes an expert?3. Motivation is important4. Actively engaging people is important (Learning as brain development)5. What people know affects what they learn (context is important)6. What we remember is affected by how our brain works (the limits of retention)
    57. 57. Memory is limitedMr. Anderson, May I be excused?My brain is full.
    58. 58. How much do you remember from this talk already? Probably 10% of you remember any non-obvious fact from 15 minutes agoTest yourself on it ifyou want toremember itH. Roediger, J. KarpickePsych. Sci. Vol.17 pg 249
    59. 59. Want to remember this talk?– Study it over several days– Test yourself on it– Explain it to someone
    60. 60. Mental connections help retentione.g. give lesson on fasteners-- here areall the types and how they are used.vs. 6 kgHere is an interesting job problem, hereare possible types of fasteners for solvingproblem, and here is how a certain typeof fastener solved it.
    61. 61. Working Memory Capacity VERY LIMITED! every added demand hurts learning (“cognitive load”) (remember/process max 4-7 unrelated items) Without great care, exceeded in almost every lecture.
    62. 62. How can we reduce cognitive load?
    63. 63. Expert Tutors *1. Motivation major focus (context, pique curiosity,...)limited praise, never for person, all for process3. Understands what students do and do not know ⇒ timely, specific, interactive feedback5. Almost never tell students anything-- pose questions.7. Mostly students answering questions & explaining.9. Asking right questions so students challenged but can figure out. Systematic progression.11. Let students make mistakes, then discover and fix.13. Require reflection: how solved, explain, generalize,… *Lepper and Woolverton pg 135 in Improving Academic Achievement
    64. 64. It’s not about our teaching,it’s about student learning
    65. 65. Conclusions• Educational practice is a researchable endeavor – We can make systematic progress – Imperative to include physicists• Possible to achieve dramatic repeated results• CU model strongly couples: – Reform and research – Education and physics• Sustaining & Scaling reforms is possible – Requires theoretical framing – Both CONTENT and CONTEXT matter
    66. 66. FinMuch more at: per.colorado.edu

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