I recently gave a presentation called The Cognitive Science of Creative Subjects at Learning2Asia, a conference which I thought was an incredibly well-run by Nanjing International School. The format of the workshop was really fun: Teachers do mostly hands-on, design-related experiments on themselves to sort of demonstrate how different principles in cognitive science work. I also tried to translate the principles into useful classroom applications, and to tell the story of each of the research studies that the workshop was based around.
Overall, it was a hit! Packed room, great discussions by the participants, and a ton of fun. As would be predicted by the protege effect (Chase, Chin, Oppezzo, & Schwartz, 2009), I learned a lot by preparing for the presentation. As a parent, which I am, I would want my child’s teacher to consider some basic principles of cognitive science during their planning, especially once she’s reached the point in which semantic and biologically secondary knowledge (See Geary, 2002) start to make up the majority of the curriculum. Here are four principles (taken from the slide deck that I presented in my workshop) and their corresponding classroom applications, which I believe to have enhanced my teaching. Scroll to the bottom for the full list of the articles I used to build the workshop and mine away!
– Zach Groshell @mrzachg
Adler, R. F., & Benbunan-Fich, R. (2012). Juggling on a high wire: Multitasking effects on performance. International Journal of Human Computer Studies, 70(2), 156–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2011.10.003
Fischer, R., & Plessow, F. (2015). Efficient multitasking: Parallel versus serial processing of multiple tasks. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(September), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01366
Working Memory Model:
Willingham, D. T. (2009). Why Students Don’t Like School. American Educator, Spring 200, 4–13. Retrieved from https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/periodicals/WILLINGHAM%282%29.pdf
Tajfel, H., Billig, M. G., Bundy, R. P. & Flament, C. (1971) ‘Social categorization and intergroup behaviour’, European Journal of Social Psychology, 1(2), 149-178.
Yerkes-Dodson Law (Optimal Arousal):
Diamond, D. M., Campbell, A. M., Park, C. R., Halonen, J., & Zoladz, P. R. (2007). The temporal dynamics model of emotional memory processing: A synthesis on the neurobiological basis of stress-induced amnesia, flashbulb and traumatic memories, and the Yerkes-Dodson law. Neural Plasticity, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1155/2007/60803
Expertise Reversal Effect:
Kalyuga, S., Ayres, P., Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (2003). The Expertise Reversal Effect. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 23–31. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326985EP3801
Vohs, K. D., Mead, N. L., & Goode, M. R. (2008). Merely activating the concept of money changes personal and interpersonal behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(3), 208–212. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00576.x
Bateson, M., Callow, L., Holmes, J. R., Redmond Roche, M. L., & Nettle, D. (2013). Do images of “watching eyes” induce behaviour that is more pro-social or more normative? A field experiment on littering. PLoS ONE, 8(12), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0082055
Paas, F., & Sweller, J. (2012). An Evolutionary Upgrade of Cognitive Load Theory: Using the Human Motor System and Collaboration to Support the Learning of Complex Cognitive Tasks. Educational Psychology Review, 24(1), 27–45. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-011-9179-2
Domain Knowledge and Brainstorming:
Rietzschel, E. F., Nijstad, B. A., & Stroebe, W. (2007). Relative accessibility of domain knowledge and creativity: The effects of knowledge activation on the quantity and originality of generated ideas. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(6), 933–946. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2006.10.014
Worked Examples and Process sheets:
Ward, M., & Sweller, J. (1990). Structuring effective worked examples. Cognition and Instruction, 7, 1–39.
Nadolski, R. J., Kirschner, P. A., & Van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (2005). Optimizing the number of steps in learning tasks for complex skills. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 75(2), 223–237. https://doi.org/10.1348/000709904X22403
Wasik, B. A., & Jacobi-Vessels, J. L. (2017). Word Play: Scaffolding Language Development Through Child-Directed Play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45(6), 769–776. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-016-0827-5
Working Memory Capacity:
Cowan, N. (2000). The magical number 4 in short-term memory: A reconsideration of mental storage capacity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 87–185.
Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63(2), 81–97. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0043158
The Research Question (Podcast)
Roediger, H. L., & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). Test-enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Psychological Science, 17(3), 249–255. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01693.x
Biologically Primary vs. Secondary:
Geary, D. C. (2002). Principles of evolutionary educational psychology. Learning and Individual Differences, 12(4), 317–345. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1041-6080(02)00046-8
Chase, C. C., Chin, D. B., Oppezzo, M. A., & Schwartz, D. L. (2009). Teachable agents and the protégé effect: Increasing the effort towards learning. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(4), 334–352. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-009-9180-4
12 thoughts on “Lessons from Cognitive Science that I’ve Used to Improve my Teaching”
The applications for the classroom are clear, concise and easy to implement. Great work.
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Thanks! The workshop these were in was a really fun time 🙂
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We learn well when the activities are fun.
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Oh, man! I would have loved to have seen your workshop! Thank you for sharing this blog. I have shared it with my colleagues at ASIJ 🙂
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Yes! Would love to have been at L2 last year to have visited your campus. Cheers 🙂
I am curious about the workshop format, the experimental and control group
Yes, groups were randomly assigned and went into each experiment blind to whether they were in the treatment condition or the control condition. I broke it apart for one as well in which there were American teachers and non-American teachers to control for background knowledge. It was fun!
That is a nice blog thanks for sharing it.