In this episode of the Progressively Incorrect podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul A. Kirschner. Paul is Emeritus Professor at the Open University of the Netherlands as well as Guest Professor at the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences in Antwerp, Belgium. He is the author of several books, including How Learning Happens and its sequel, How Teaching Happens, which we discuss towards the end of the interview.

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In many ways, this episode is a perfect transition into a new season of the Progressively Incorrect podcast. If you followed this podcast during its first season, I made it pretty clear that I’m not a fan of Discovery learning, Free Inquiry, Productive Struggle, or any other buzzword pedagogy that demands that learners figure out or discover material for themselves. But, the thing is, I didn’t always think this way. Early in my career I was frequently told that giving students more control, more freedom, and, as a consequence, less explicit instruction, was the only way to develop 21st century creative thinkers and lifelong learners. It wasn’t until I entered my PhD and was required to read Paul’s seminal article, Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching, that something awoke inside me.

Could it be that explaining something upfront is much more efficient and effective than letting students struggle with the material? Were some of my more student-directed tasks actually harming learning by overwhelming students’ limited working memories? Was I perhaps, in my zeal to be more flashy and innovative, confusing how to teach a novice with how experts construct knowledge? These were some of the questions that Paul’s 2006 article, which he co-wrote with John Sweller and Richard Clark, forced me to ponder. In fact, the entire reason that I decided to start this podcast was to explore these questions in greater depth with some of the best minds in education. You can imagine, then, how exciting it was when Dr. Kirschner, the researcher who is perhaps most often associated with the argument that minimally guided instruction doesn’t work, agreed to be on the podcast. Whatever your preferred pedagogy, his words will surely make you reflect on your core beliefs about what works in teaching and learning.

I hope you enjoy Episode 1 of Season 2 of the Progressively Incorrect Podcast featuring Dr. Paul. A Kirschner. Below are some links he asked me to share with you.

Websites (English and Dutch) (English Blog)

How Learning Happens

How Teaching Happens

Urban Myths about Learning and Education

More Urban Myths About Learning and Education: Challenging Eduquacks, Extraordinary Claims, and Alternative Facts

2 thoughts on “S2E1: Paul A. Kirschner on Minimally Guided Instruction and Cognitive Load

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