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How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching Hardcover – May 17 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (May 17 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470484101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470484104
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.9 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Any conversation about effective teaching must begin with a consideration of how students learn. However, instructors may find a gap between resources that focus on the technical research on learning and those that provide practical classroom strategies. How Learning Works provides the bridge for such a gap.

In this volume, the authors introduce seven general principles of learning, distilled from the research literature as well as from twenty-seven years of experience working one-on-one with college faculty. They have drawn on research from a breadth of perspectives (cognitive, developmental, and social psychology; educational research; anthropology; demographics; and organizational behavior) to identify a set of key principles underlying learning-from how effective organization enhances retrieval and use of information to what impacts motivation. These principles provide instructors with an understanding of student learning that can help them see why certain teaching approaches are or are not supporting student learning, generate or refine teaching approaches and strategies that more effectively foster student learning in specific contexts, and transfer and apply these principles to new courses.

For anyone who wants to improve his or her students' learning, it is crucial to understand how that learning works and how to best foster it. This vital resource is grounded in learning theory and based on research evidence, while being easy to understand and apply to college teaching.

From the Back Cover

Praise for "How Learning Works"

""How Learning Works" is the perfect title for this excellent book. Drawing upon new research in psychology, education, and cognitive science, the authors have demystified a complex topic into clear explanations of seven powerful learning principles. Full of great ideas and practical suggestions, all based on solid research evidence, this book is essential reading for instructors at all levels who wish to improve their students' learning." --Barbara Gross Davis, assistant vice chancellor for educational development, University of California, Berkeley, and author, "Tools for Teaching"

"This book is a must-read for every instructor, new or experienced. Although I have been teaching for almost thirty years, as I read this book I found myself resonating with many of its ideas, and I discovered new ways of thinking about teaching." --Eugenia T. Paulus, professor of chemistry, North Hennepin Community College, and 2008 U.S. Community Colleges Professor of the Year from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education

"Thank you Carnegie Mellon for making accessible what has previously been inaccessible to those of us who are not learning scientists. Your focus on the essence of learning combined with concrete examples of the daily challenges of teaching and clear tactical strategies for faculty to consider is a welcome work. I will recommend this book to all my colleagues." --Catherine M. Casserly, senior partner, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

"As you read about each of the seven basic learning principles in this book, you will find advice that is grounded in learning theory, based on research evidence, relevant to college teaching, and easy to understand. The authors have extensive knowledge and experience in applying the science of learning to college teaching, and they graciously share it with you in this organized and readable book." --From the Foreword by Richard E. Mayer, professor of psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara; coauthor, "e-Learning and the Science of Instruction"; and author, "Multimedia Learning"

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Format: Hardcover
At the outset, having read and then re-read this book, I wish to share a few introductory observations. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of ways that informal as well as formal education works. Also, how learning occurs in public schools tends to differ significantly from how it occurs in public suburban and private (day or boarding) schools. Moreover, how learning occurs in colleges and universities differs significantly from how it occurs in corporate education programs, be they formal or informal.
In the Introduction, Richard Mayer suggests that this book "is the latest advancement in the continuing task of applying the science of learning to education -- particularly, college teaching." That is a key point.

Here's another. Whenever I read a book or article about the "learning environment" in inner-city schools in the United States, I am again reminded of an incident one evening in Concord (MA) long ago, after Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a lecture on the principles of transcendentalism. He agreed to answer a few questions. And elderly farmer in bib overalls stood up and removed his cap. "Yes sir? You have a question?" Long pause. "How do you transcend an empty stomach?" The context, the culture within which education is offered usually is a major factor in terms of how receptive students are. Most of the material in this book is, as Mayer suggests, relevant to higher education.

The co-authors -- Susan Ambrose, Michael Bridges, Michelle DiPietro, Marsha Lovell, and Marie Norman -- introduce and focus on seven research-based principles for smart teaching. Here they are, accompanied by a comment of mine.

1. Students prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.
Comment: The same can be said of those who teach them.

2.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book bridges learning research and teaching practice. A must read for all college professors. The resources at the back of the book are excellent. Finally a book that links student development and the classroom. Love it
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
concise practical and informative. although written for further and higher education teachers the content is probably relevent to teaching any level
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x97aad9fc) out of 5 stars 88 reviews
89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97abf45c) out of 5 stars Excellent Tool for helping university faculty and administrators to really understand student learning Aug. 9 2010
By Steven Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Dean of a school within a University, I am always on the lookout for well researched, practical and effective ways to educate our own faculty about student learning, especially for the various levels of university students (Bachelors, Masters, PhD). Any faculty member or university administrator seriously concerned with education desires to find a trustworthy and research-informed body of content, that has been carefully crafted to be usable and practical, that can serve as a tool or workbook for understanding student learning in ways that lead to clear suggestions for improving curriculum design and course delivery.

Yet, that search has been something like a quest for a holy-grail. Sure, everyone teaching at the university level wants to find this type of book. And we have all looked at numerous books on learning and teaching. But none of them were "just the thing."

Well, now "just the thing" is here. I have read this book cover to cover. It is exceptionally well done. In fact, I thought it was so well done that I called the publisher to order enough copies to give to EVERY ONE of our faculty and teaching support staff.

There is a reason why it has taken "the community" so long to finally create "just the right thing" in terms of a summary of student learning (university level) that is used as a basis for establishing principles for improving teaching.

* The work on cognitive science and its extension into the science of learning beyond the laboratory, into classroom and university settings, needed several decades to evolve and mature.

* You needed a particular group of people who were professional teachers-- as well as professionals who focused on teaching teachers about teaching-- to stay together long enough to develop deep insight into the pratical issues associated with teaching university level teachers about teaching. In other words, the team not only had to master the body of content and pragmatics associated with student learning, they had to have deep experience with teaching other teaching professionals about both the body of content as well as the pragmatics.

* At the same time, this group of "teaching center professionals" had to be so familiar with the research related to the science of learning, as well as with a much broader range of research about learning effectiveness, that they could effectively select out what was important, and weave it into a comprehensive framework that made sense for teaching teachers about student learning and teaching.

* And last of all, this group had to have the passion as well as the opportunity to commit themselves over a very long period to the mission of creating such a book.

This team, principally from Carnege Mellons' Centre for Teaching Excellence, and also including people from the University of Pittsburgh, was able to pull all of this together. It must have been a herculean task over a very long period of time. But the result reflects the dedication, capability and effort of the team. No wonder this book appeared just now, and not five or ten years ago.

Each chapter is organized as follows:
- 2 brief case study stories that illustrate the them of the chapter
- A section that summarizes "What Is Going On In These Stories?", in a way that clearly highlights the challanges associated with the theme of that particular chapter.
- A section on "What Principle Of Learning Is At Work Here?"
- A section on "What does Research Tell Us About <The Theme Of The Chapter.>
- A section on "Implications Of This Research" for understanding student learning and teaching
- A section on "What Strategies Does the Research Suggest", for improving student learning and teaching
- A final "Summary" section

Because of this well conceived organization, the book is very easy to use. You can quickly go to any of the seven chapters, and zero in on the part you want to know about, or you are trying to recall and apply.

In short, this book is a major contribution to the entire community of people involved with tertiary level teaching. One might argue that every university faculty member should know what is in this book, no matter what their "split" is across research and teaching. Even faculty who are essentially supported full time on research funds, and who have a limited amount of formal classroom teaching, will benefit tremendously form this book. Since their interactions with Ph.D. students and and research staff are still essentially "teaching", an understanding of student learning will prove to help with the student supervisory process.

For university-level faculty from any type of institution who do classroom, studio and laboratory teaching- whether they are from a smaller scale liberal arts college, or from one of the strongest of the "R1" research universities - this book will prove invaluable. While it is really a book, and not a "workbook", I predict you will use it so often that you will consider it as well-used tool or workbook.

what else can I say? This is really good work. Get it. Use it. Connect better with student learning and students. Your students will appreciate it.

Steve Miller
Dean, School of Information Systems, Singapore Management University
Professor of Information Systems (Practice)
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97abf6a8) out of 5 stars This book will inform teachers across all disciplines Sept. 15 2010
By Carolyn Turnbull - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is full of citations from the learning sciences, which may suggest a bias toward instruction in math and the sciences. Nothing could be further from the truth. As an English teacher, I found every chapter both reader-friendly and essential reading for teachers of the humanities. After reading each enjoyable chapter, I could form a mental checklist of what I was doing to support student learning in my classrooms and where I could improve. I have read many good academic books about teaching and learning and many good practical books. But I have not read a single book that mixes research and practical advice as well as this book.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97abf8e8) out of 5 stars At least in higher education in the United States, how learning can work...and why, sometimes, it doesn't July 26 2014
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
At the outset, having read and then re-read this book, I wish to share a few introductory observations. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of ways that informal as well as formal education works. Also, how learning occurs in public schools tends to differ significantly from how it occurs in public suburban and private (day or boarding) schools. Moreover, how learning occurs in colleges and universities differs significantly from how it occurs in corporate education programs, be they formal or informal. In the Introduction, Richard Mayer suggests that this book "is the latest advancement in the continuing task of applying the science of learning to education -- particularly, college teaching." That is a key point.

Here's another. Whenever I read a book or article about the "learning environment" in inner-city schools in the United States, I am again reminded of an incident one evening in Concord (MA) long ago, after Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a lecture on the principles of transcendentalism. He agreed to answer a few questions. And elderly farmer in bib overalls stood up and removed his cap. "Yes sir? You have a question?" Long pause. "How do you transcend an empty stomach?" The context, the culture within which education is offered usually is a major factor in terms of how receptive students are. Most of the material in this book is, as Mayer suggests, relevant to higher education.

The co-authors -- Susan Ambrose, Michael Bridges, Michelle DiPietro, Marsha Lovell, and Marie Norman -- introduce and focus on seven research-based principles for smart teaching. Here they are, accompanied by a comment of mine.

1. Students prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.
Comment: The same can be said of those who teach them.

2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know.
Comment: Few students in school learn how to study, learn, obtain and manage information, etc.

3. Students' motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do learn.
Comment: I agree. All learning worthy of the name must be self-motivated, even when supervised.

4. To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when [and how] to apply what they have learned.
Comments: Decades of research by K. Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University have determined that practice must be "deep" and "deliberate," conducted under strict supervision by an expert in the given field, to achieve peak performance. Also, what is generally referred to as the "10,000 Rule" applies. Otherwise, repetitive practice -- insofar as achieving peak performance is concerned -- is worthless...or worse. Why? Because it reinforces, indeed strengthens bad habits, techniques, etc.

5. Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students' learning.
Comment: See my response to #4.

6. Students' current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning.
Comment: I am among those who are convinced that much (most?) of the most valuable learning occurs outside of an academic (i.e. classroom) environment. That said, what happens within that environment can help to guide, inform, and nourish learning elsewhere.

7. To become self-directed learners, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning.
Comment: Again, I agree, while adding that (a) self-directed learning presupposes self-motivated learning and (b) evaluation skills can, indeed must be mastered under expert superstition.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of co-authors' coverage.

o Methods to Gauge the Extent and Nature of Students' Prior Knowledge (Pages 27-31)
o Methods to Activate Prior Knowledge (31-35)
o Methods to Help Students Recognize Inappropriate Prior Behavior (35-37)
O Methods to Correct Inaccurate Knowledge (37-38)

Note: I am reminded of the fact that, years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed that people are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts.

o What Does Research Tell Us About Knowledge Organization? (46-58)
o Strategies That Help Students Build Positive Expectancies (85-88)
o Strategies That Address Values and Expectancies (89)
o Integration of Component Skills (103-107)
o What Does Practice Tell Us About Practice (127-130)

To repeat: Decades of research by K. Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University have determined that practice must be "deep" and "deliberate," conducted under strict supervision by an expert in the given field, to achieve peak performance. Also, what is generally referred to as the "10,000 Rule" applies. Otherwise, repetitive practice -- insofar as achieving peak performance is concerned -- is worthless...or worse. Why? Because it reinforces, indeed strengthens bad habits, techniques, etc.

o The Chickering Model of Human Development, and, Intellectual Development (160-166)
o Students' Beliefs About Intelligence and Learning (180-186)
o Beliefs About Intelligence and Learning (200-202)
o Evaluating One's Own Strengths and Weaknesses (206-210)
o Applying the Seven Principles to Ourselves (217-224)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as this can do full justice to the scope and depth of the material that Susan Ambrose, Michael Bridges, Michelle DiPietro, Marsha Lovell, and Marie Norman provide. However, I hope this review helps those who read it to decide whether or not this volume is of interest and can of value to them.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97abfb64) out of 5 stars A quick path to better learning in your classroom Feb. 15 2011
By Therese Huston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There are plenty of great books out there on how to teach a college class, and now there's a great one on how college students learn. "How Learning Works" tackles topics that most books on teaching ignore, such as how students' prior knowledge helps or hinders what they learn in your class. We've all had the experience of trying to remind students of material we know they've had before, only to be met with blank stares, or worse yet, comments that reveal a deeply flawed understanding. This book offers a better way. Don't be put off by the multiple authors - this book is written in a clear, single voice. It's smart, it's well-written, and even though the word "principles" is in the title, it's practical.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97abfe58) out of 5 stars How Learning Works July 30 2010
By GeminiNYC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
great book. easy to read review of relevant research to help teachers communicate lessons more effectively and get a better understanding of the learning process.

I really enjoyed reading How Learning Works. I thought the book was really great because it covered the essentials of the learning sciences behaviors using simple language and clear analogies. The book can help teachers increase student performance. Alternatively, the book can help students think about what a "good teacher" might do for them. For example, teachers can provide targeted feedback to help students find their way through tough concepts as GPS systems can help people find their ultimate destination.
This book is
-a good review for people in learning sciences, (lots of citations)
-an easy read for parents interested in how their student learns
-business managers interested in understanding about learning aspect of the education
-a great read for people who want an introduction to the learning sciences


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