This course, The Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning, has certainly made me dig deep and ponder my own current practices. I have been introduced to many new ideas that I can apply to my own teaching and learning. The principles we explored are simple in many respects, and if applied correctly can transform the way I can help children stay motivated, engaged and become life long learners.
There are three main connections that have really stuck with me over the course of these many weeks. First, is the idea of mental representations and how they impact how we learn. Logic, rules, concepts, analogies, and images are mental representations that are used as a core to assist scientists and educators understand the “mind” (Ash, n.d.). These mental representations from cognitive science have significant implications for instruction that I can apply to my own teaching. The assignment of explaining each mental representation, giving examples of each, and then applying instructional events in our teaching environment, really solidified for me an understanding of these representations. We all use these mental representations on a daily basis in our lives, but it was interesting to examine them more deeply and think about their impact on student’s learning.
Second was the examination of our our learning styles in unit 3. This learning styles inventory was a great reminder that we need to take the time to really understand how our students learn as individuals and get away from the “one size fits all” model of instruction. It was also fascinating to learn that “the human brain keeps changing throughout a person’s lifetime, the brains of adult humans are by no means hard wired (Forschugnszentrum, 2013). ” Different students will connect with different teaching methods, some responding to demonstrations, others to complex explanations, and others to simple explanations as they work to understand material (Thompson, 2016). So I think the connection is to realize that everyone’s brain is different in ways, and we, as educators, need to meet them where they can best learn, retain, and engage with information in the way that most suits them.
Third, was David Perkins’s book, “Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education”, in it’s entirety. This book really captured my attention and gave me a new way to look at how I’m working with my student’s. From “playing the whole game” to how to “learn the game of learning”, there were so many great lessons on how to adapt and improve instruction so that kids really “get it”. I especially enjoyed the chapters on “working on the hard parts” and “playing out of town”. We all experience “hard parts” in life, whether in a classroom setting, in our work environment or in life in general. How we anticipate these hard parts, and then address and move forward with them is vital to success in any setting. It’s not always fun or easy, but we need to deliberately practice the hard parts to get better, but we also need to keep in mind that truly being able to work on the “hard parts” of something isn’t merely practicing them over and over. As Perkins (2009), states, “it involves deconstructing them and reconstructing them so they are executed in new and better ways (page 80).” Finally, our goal as teachers is to ensure that children have the tools they need to function successfully in the real world. That’s why “playing out of town” is so important. Being able to transfer what you learn to another context is key to learning, and as teachers we need to have the tools to help children with this.
In conclusion, this has been a very interesting course which has sparked a lot of new ideas and thinking for me. I look forward to applying what I have learned in my own work setting.
Please enjoy this video that was helpful to me as a supplemental reference in thinking about the transfer of knowledge, or as Perkins put it “Playing out of town”:
Ash, D. (n.d.). EDU 510 unit 2 presentation. Retrieved August 15, 2016, from
Forschungszentrum Juelich. (2013, October 10). New theory of synapse formation in the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 11, 2016 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010205325.htm
Perkins, D.N. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Thompson, S. (2016). Brain-Based Learning. Brain-Based Learning — Research Starters Education, 1-6.