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How Can Educators Best Integrate Learning Science Research into the Classroom?

“Brain scans cannot give rise directly to lesson plans.” The possibilities of bridging neuroscience and educational practice are both enormous and limited. Every Monday Pearson asks two experts–one from higher education and one from K12–to apply principles from learning science to today’s classrooms. This is part four of a series of eight questions.

Michael Britt, PhD: We know that students will most often take the quickest route that they think will get them a good grade on their test. So while the research on the “testing effect” is solid (that frequent testing will help students uncover what they do and don’t know and will cement their understanding better than re-reading will), students will most likely not take the time during their individual study sessions to read the middle or end-of-chapter practice tests. So educators have to integrate the testing effect into their classes by starting or ending class with a brief test that assesses how well students have learned what they studied prior to coming to class or that assess how well students understood what was discussed in class.

Of course, adding in a test takes time away from class. I would argue two things: that discovering what students don’t understand and being able to focus on this to clear up misunderstandings is worth the time. Secondly, there are some great new tools that will grade multiple-choice tests very quickly. Gradecam, for example, uses the instructor’s webcam or smartphone camera to quickly grade a multiple choice test. Gradecam will also do an item analysis on the test so that teachers can very quickly see which topics students don’t understand. This is how to take the science of learning out of the journals and into everyday teaching.

Click here to see how research scientist, Liane Wardlow, responded to the question.

This post is part of a series, The Science of Learning – from an Educator and Researcher Perspective that was originally posted on Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network. Click here to learn more.