Below are a selection of practical, online references that the Bok Center recommends for the teacher interested in research-based pedagogy. Most are scientific, peer-reviewed studies or reviews; all give explicit attention to how research can inform an individual teacher's practice.
Cognition and Learning
- How People Learn: Brain, Mind Experience and School from the National Academies reviews what scientists know about how people (not just students) learn. Chapter 2, "How Experts Differ from Novices", is a great starting place for teachers interested in cognition and learning. See also "The Expertise Reversal Effect" (Kalyuga et. al., Ed. Psych., 38(1), 23, 2003) for research on learning by students who are no longer novices.
- Research into Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design at UNSW provides a good summary of many of the main results from cognitive research (ca. 1998, but still relevant) that bear on course and lesson design.
- Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning (Richard E. Mayer & Roxana Moreno, 2003. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52). This article from a leading researcher in multimodal learning outlines several teaching situations in which human cognitive limits can adversely affect learning, and suggests strategies for avoiding such limits.
- The first three chapters of Edward Redish's Teaching Physics With the Physics Suite (Wiley, 2003) provide a strong but readable overview, from a practicing teacher's point of view, of to plan cognitively-valid lessons. The examples used to illustrate ideas are from physics, but the bulk of the discussion is general to all disciplines.
- The Educational Value of Course-level Learning Objectives/Outcomes from CMU summarizes the research basis for teaching from the standpoint of learning outcomes.
- Understanding by Design by Wiggins & McTighe is a standard reference for the teacher on outcomes-based teaching. The first chapter, "Backward Design", gives the foundation for instructors designing courses, lessons and assignments.
- Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach? by Daniel T. Willingham (American Educator, Summer 2007) argues that research does support the idea of "critical thinking" as a goal of liberal education -- but with some unanticipated implications for our teaching.
Pedagogical Approaches and Student Learning
- Active Learning: Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics (Freeman et al, PNAS 111(23): 8410-8415). A meta-analysis of 225 articles concludes that active learning - as compared to lecture alone - decreases failure rates and increases performance on exams and concept tests.
- Active Learning: Where's the evidence that active learning works? (Joel Michael, Adv Physiol Educ 30:159–167, 2006). Includes a review of 5 principles of learning from educational psychology.
- Student approaches to learning: Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age (Alison J. Head & Michael B. Eisenberg,Project Information Literacy Progress Report, 2009). An influential report on millennial students, with a concise summary of findings in the introduction.
- Guided v. Discovery-Based Learning: Two articles illustrate the (often strident) debate between "guided" (Kirshner, Sweller & Clark) and "inquiry-based" (Silver, Duncan & Chinn) [Ed. Psych. 41(2), 75–86, 2006 and 42(2), 99-107, 2007 respectively].
- Peer Instruction and "Clickers": Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions (M. K. Smith et. al., Science, 2 January 2009: 122-124) gives the research basis for using "clickers" and peer instruction in a pedagogically effective manner.
- Science Education: Science Magazine's special issue on education & science literacy (23 April 2010) has two articles on important but rarely-considered topics:P. van den Broek "Using Texts in Science Education: Cognitive Processes and Knowledge Representation", pp.453-456, and J. Osborne, "Arguing to Learn in Science", pp.463-466.
- Memory, Testing and Learning: Henry (Roddy) Roediger's lab provides two seminal papers on testing memory and test-enhanced learning.
- Laptop Use: Use of Laptops in the Classroom: Research and Best Practices[Zhu et al. 2011, CRLT Occasional Papers] examines student-reported effects of directed and undirected laptop use in lectures.
Sleep and Learning
Are students getting enough sleep? Research at Harvard shows that a full night's sleep leads to better consolidation of material learned the day before. Even mild sleep-loss leads to cognitive decline.
- Studying Instead of Sleeping Bites Students (Scientific American podcast)
- Why Sleep Matters (videos from Harvard Medical School and WGBH)
- Learning while we sleep and dream (Harvard University Gazette)
- Deep into Sleep (Harvard Magazine)