Tag Archives: Cognitive science

Blog of the Week: CLT 2.0 – The Teacher Scaffolding Effects

@LeadingLearner

Cognitive Load Theory is increasingly impacting on teachers. Its latest inclusion being in the Early Career Framework.  Alongside its wider impact on policy, it is featuring in professional development programmes, influencing people’s thinking and hopefully their approach to teaching.  At its heart, it is a theory about instructional (teaching) design. 


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Blog of the Week: 15 November 2019 – Retrieval Practice in the Classroom: Is Asking Questions Enough?

By Cindy Nebel

In our workshops, we often recommend that instructors start by making small changes in their teaching, instead of trying to do a massive overhaul to a curriculum or design from scratch. One possible way that an educator may choose to incorporate retrieval practice into their classroom is to simply stop and ask questions throughout a traditional lecture. By asking students questions, they will all be in engaging in retrieval practice without the instructor taking too much time out of their class to develop or grade quizzes. But is that enough? In today’s post, I review a study that asked just that question and has implications for student group work as well.

In this study (1), Magdalena Abel and Henry Roediger had students study Swahili vocabulary words in pairs. First, both students sat at a computer while the Swahili word was presented with its English equivalent (study phase). Some of the words were …

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Blog of the Week: 5 July 2019 – 10 Techniques for Retrieval Practice

teacherhead

Image Credit: https://emptechgroup.com/the-internet-of-things/

I’ve written about retrieval practice several times in other posts but here I just want to make it easy to lay out various alternative methods for the process of reviewing your students’ knowledge and understanding.   Before doing that, I would suggest that there are some key principles:

  1. Involve everyone:  Good techniques involve all students checking their knowledge, not just a few and not just one at a time as you might do when questioning.
  2. Make checking accurate and easy:  it should be possible for all students to find out what they got right and wrong, what they know well and where they have gaps. Every technique involves students testing their knowledge and then checking their work for accuracy and completeness. (This is not the same as giving students extended mark schemes to mark longer assessments which, for me goes beyond a simple retrieval practice activity)

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Blog of the Week: 21 June 2019 – Exploring Barak Rosenshine’s seminal Principles of Instruction: Why it is THE must-read for all teachers.

teacherhead

This post is based on a talk I gave at ResearchEd in Rugby.  The paper in question is Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction published in American Educator in 2012, downloadable in full as a pdf here:

I first came across if after seeing Oliver Caviglioli’s superb graphic summary for How2 – available here:

Principles-of-InstructionDownload here: 

My admiration for Rosenshine is largely informed by my experience working with teachers in various schools and colleges where I’ve been trying to engage people with research in order to support them to improve their practice.  For me, it is the best, most clear and comprehensive guide to evidence-informed teaching there is.

Here are some of the reasons:

  • It resonates for teachers of all subjects and contexts – because it focuses on aspects of teaching that are pretty much universal:  questioning, practice, building knowledge.   There are good examples from English and Maths lessons but…

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Blog of the Week: 5 April 2019 – Structured revision lessons using retrieval, spacing & interleaving

missdcoxblog

The problem with many revision classes is that many teachers think that students can suddenly self organise and self motivate. This is rarely the case. Last year I trialled a revision lesson structure and blogged on it here- Using research to design a revision session. The feedback from students was positive and I believe these had impact on their final weeks of learning before the exams. We use it for every lesson now and they can also use the structure for their own revision sessions. It’s based on cognitive science principles of retrieval, spacing and interleaving.

However, I wanted to improve the structure further this year. Here is the new structure:

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Over the series of lessons, each topic is covered a minimum of 3 times. First it is in a review, then next lesson that topic is the exam question and the lesson after it it the marking task…

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Blog of the Week: 18 January 2019 – Lightbulb Moments with The Learning Scientists

The Dusty Tsundoku

This weekend, we at Advantage Schools ran our first educational conference.  It was a collaborative piece of work, with Bedford School providing the venue, and the amazing presenters being The Learning Scientists: Megan Sumeracki, PhD; Cindy Nebel, PhD; Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel, PhD; and Althea Need Kaminske, PhD.  Over two hundred teachers joined us for two days of fascinating learning about the insights of cognitive science, and how these can help our students to remember what they have studied more successfully.

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I had some familiarity with most of the strategies discussed. A few years ago, I had read about the benefits of retrieval practice, spacing and interleaving and had worked to incorporate them into my planning (at least, I thought I had).  As part of induction at Bedford Free School, all staff attend a series of student assemblies run by the Head of History (@JamesRawlins90), in which he talks through the learning…

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Blog of the Week: 8 June 2018 – What is a knowledge-rich curriculum? Principle and Practice.

teacherhead

I have found recent discussions and debates about the concept of a ‘knowledge-rich curriculum’  – or knowledge-led; knowledge-based – fascinating.   Some of this has been explored brilliantly in various blogs.  Here is a selection:

There are also numerous blogs from Michael Fordham (Knowledge and curriculum – Clio et cetera), Clare Sealy (Memory not memories – teaching for long term learning…

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Blog of the Week: 11 May 2018 – How should students revise? A brief guide

chronotope

One of the biggest lessons from research is that many students don’t really know how to study. Various studies have shown that students rate re-reading and highlighting as the most effective ways of revising when in reality they are often a waste of time giving an illusion of competence in the short term at the expense of long term gains.

Students may spend large amounts of additional time studying despite no gain in later memory for the items, a phenomenon called ‘‘labour-in-vain’’ during learning (Nelson & Leonesio,1988). Recent research with educationally relevant materials has shown that repeatedly reading prose passages produces limited benefits beyond a single reading. (Karpicke, Roediger, Butler, 2009)

In contrast, retrieval practice, spacing and interleaving are some of the most productive ways of revising material but how many students are familiar with this? I think there is often a tendency to focus too much on what teachers…

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Blog of the Week: 28 March 2018 – ResearchEd Blackpool – 30 things to go and tell your colleagues from @mathsmrgordon

Teach innovate reflect

This was my first Researched and I left with my head spinning so this is a great way of reflecting and getting ideas down on paper. It was great to listen to and meet some of the people who inspire me to be better and keep my brain ticking over constantly. I have tried to summarise what I learnt as well as add things that I think are useful.

ResearchEd is a movement but will only become a force if it changes practice throughout the country. The conference acts as the lightning and we are the thunder that must open dialogue in our schools, particularly as/with leaders to affect change.

Thanks to Tom Bennett and the team, the speakers and all involved at Blackpool Research school, particularly Simon Cox, Phil Naylor and Stephen Tierney for a fantastic (hopefully annual) event!

Sessions visited:

  1. Tom Bennett – Creating a Culture – what evidence…

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Blog of the Week: 22 February 2018 – When do novices become experts?

It’s a fairly well established principle of cognitive science that experts and novices think differently. Being aware of these differences can make a big difference to teachers. For instance, if we assume that most children in most situations are likely to begin as novices this could help point the way to more effective instruction. Here’s a summary of some of the main differences between experts and novices.

One of the most interesting findings to come out of the research into Cognitive Load…

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