Tag Archives: studentCentered

CollegeQandA reviews: Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools

Book Review: Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools

Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools

Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools is an excellent book for teachers (and some learners) on what may be wrong with our teaching approach; it isn’t necessarily us, but might be an institutional situation.  After reading this book, I had to get back to blogging.  I’ve been trying to finish up my own book, and this book comes along and shatters/challenges/supports many of my previous perspectives on teaching in an elegant succinct way.

So, why is this book shattering some of my views on education?  Well, having read the book, many of the ideas line up well with preexisting beliefs I have about learning.  Dr. Schank, however, structures many of these ideas in a better way.

The major idea in the book is his clear explanation in chapter 4 of the “twelve cognitive principles that underlie learning”.   His main thesis is that these principles are captured in what we all do in our lives, jobs, and education, and that they should be a fundamental focus of learning as opposed to knowledge and content.  We tend to focus more on content than action.

The majority of the book looks at these principles and their application/relation to education.  A few other interesting aspects and ideas in the book include:

  • Chapter 11 shifts to an attack on colleges and universities, which includes many strong arguments on to what these institutions do and how they might be changed.
  • Schank states that teaching should not include the assigning of grades/marks by the teacher, and instead the assessment of performance should be done by a separate entity.
  • The idea that nothing can be learned if it doesn’t involve failure.
  • An examination or test implies that a field has a right way and a wrong way.

Does this book relate to CollegeQandA?

It’s all about teaching, learning, and universities.  In a way, I wish these were my ideas, and I’ll, likely, reference this book in future posts.

I would recommend this book to…

This book is written at a level appropriate for teachers.  I think the concepts are understandable by all, but many of the arguments drift into the world of higher ed and cognitive views that might not be at the level of college bound students.   However, I think this is a good book for everyone to take a look at to better understand learning and a bit of the why things are the way they are in education and how we might, possibly, do better.


CollegeQandA book review: A Concise Guide to Improving Student Learning

Book Review: A Concise Guide to Improving Student Learning: Six Evidence-Based Principles and How to Apply Them

A Concise Guide to Improving Student Learning: Six Evidence-Based Principles and How to Apply Them book cover
A Concise Guide to Improving Student Learning: Six Evidence-Based Principles and How to Apply Them is written by Persellin and Daniels and provides a number of research-backed ideas on how to teach more effectively – and by teaching the meaning is having students learn and retain the knowledge.

This book is small (78 pages of ideas) and is intended as a quick point of reference for busy, early, and interested professors and teachers to help them learn about how student learning can be improved via a better class.   This is presented organized by 6 principles:

  1. Challenge students early
  2. Spaced repetition
  3. Emotional connection to material
  4. Multisensory teaching and learning
  5. Small group learning
  6. Formative assessment or Low-stakes assessment

For each principle, there are a number of techniques that are briefly described to facilitate them, and everything is evidence-backed by briefly annotated research papers as related to the principle.

Finally, the appendixes include quick prescriptions (the authors call these “workshops”) to help teachers create syllabi, open and close a class, and prepare for classes.  All of this is done in 78 pages, and obviously, the focus is on introducing these ideas with references for deeper inquiry.

Does this book relate to CollegeQandA?

This book is primarily focused on helping teachers and professors quickly get familiar with innovations (backed by research) in learning theory and practice.  It is very relevant to one of this sites major themes – learning.  And because of this it is highly related to CollegeQandA.

I would recommend this book to…

Firstly, this book is recommended for the professor or teacher who wants a quick preview to a number of ideas on improving learning in their classes.  The ideas are not discussed in depth in this book, but that is not the goal.  Instead, this is a great resource for starting your exploration into improving teaching and learning.

Secondly, this book is recommended for learners (students).  Of course, the problem is you (as a student) can’t implement these ideas in the classes you are in, but you can use the concepts in your study sessions and overall learning strategies.  Just because the professor is not promoting a learning environment does not mean you still don’t have to learn the material.  Therefore, these techniques will help you maximize your learning.