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How Learning Happens


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Table of Contents

Section 1. How Does Our Brain Work? 1. A Novice is Not a Little Expert 2. Take a Load Off Me 3. How Deep is Your Processing? 4. An Evolutionary View of Learning 5. One Picture and One Thousand Words Section 2. Prerequisites for Learning 6. What You Know Determines What You Learn 7. Why independent learning is not a good way to become an independent learner 8. Beliefs about Intelligence Can Affect Intelligence 9. ... thinking makes it so 10. How you Think about Achievement Is more Important than the Achievement Itself 11. Where Are We Going and How Do We Get There? Section 3. Which Learning Activities Support Learning 12. Why Scaffolding is Not as Easy as it Looks 13. The Holy Grail: Whole Class Teaching and One-to-One Tutoring 14. Problem Solving: How to Find a Needle in a Haystack 15. Activities that Give Birth to Learning Section 4. The Teacher 16. Zooming Out to Zoom In 17. Why Discovery Learning is a Bad Way to Discover Things / Why Inquiry Learning Isn't 18. Direct Instruction 19. Assessment for, not of learning 20. Feed up, Feedback, Feed Forward 21. Learning Techniques that Really Work Section 5. Learning in Context 22. Why Context is Everything 23. The Culture of Learning 24. Making Things Visible 25. It Takes a Community to Save $100 million Section 6. Cautionary Tales 26. Did You Hear the One About the Kinaesthetic Learner...? 27. When Teaching Kills Learning 28. The Medium is NOT the Message 29.The Ten Deadly Sins of Education

About the Author

Paul A. Kirschner is Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology at the Open University of the Netherlands as well as Guest Professor at the Thomas More University of Applied Science in Belgium. Carl Hendrick teaches at Wellington College, UK, and holds a PhD in Education from King's College London.


"So often I've been asked to recommend a starting text for educators interested in the workings of the mind-now I have one. The text Kirschner and Hendrick offer alongside each seminal article does a wonderful job of situating the content in the broader scientific context, and in the classroom."

- Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Virginia

"As the volume of research into psychology and education grows, it becomes ever harder for researchers, let alone teachers, to keep up with the latest findings. Moreover, striking results often turn out to be difficult, or impossible to replicate. What teachers need, therefore, is good guidance about research that has stood the test of time, and practical guidance about how these well-established findings might be used to inform teaching practice, and this is why this is such an extraordinary, wonderful and important book. Paul Kirschner and Carl Hendrick have selected the most important research publications in the psychology of education, and, for each publication, they have provided a summary of the research, the main conclusions, and a series of practical suggestions for how the findings might inform teaching practice. I know of no other book that provides such a rigorous, accessible and practical summary of the last fifty years of research in educational psychology, and anyone who wants to understand how research can improve teaching needs to read this book. Highly recommended."

- Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, University College London

"It's hard to overstate just how fabulous this book is; a book I've wanted to exist for years and now here it is. A judicious and comprehensive selection of seminal research papers presented by two expert communicators, this is absolutely superb - from the mouth-watering list of contents, and through each of the chapters. I meet teachers in schools every week who, on hearing about various findings from research, feel liberated, enlightened with a whole new perspective on the problems they wrestle with in their classrooms. Teachers are busy - often overwhelmed - and all too frequently have not yet found the time or had the opportunity to engage with research that underpins the profession they've committed their lives to. This book is going to change that for a lot of people. The format is excellent, presenting the original papers alongside insightful commentary and key practical recommendations; a brilliant idea executed with style! Every school should have this book and every teacher should read it."

- Tom Sherrington, education consultant; author of The Learning Rainforest and Rosenshine's Principles in Action

"Teachers are rightly encouraged to base their practice on research - but education research is a huge field and it's hard to know where to start. This book provides the answer: it's valuable in its own right as a summary of some key research papers, and it's also a great starting point for further reading and research."

- Daisy Christodolou, Director of Education at No More Marking

"With the increasing volume of calls for education to become more evidence based, teachers everywhere have shaken their heads and wondered where on earth they're supposed to find the time to locate, read and evaluate the ever-increasing acreage of research papers out there. Worry no more. In How Learning Happens: Seminal Works in Educational Psychology and What They Mean in Practice, Kirschner and Hendrick have done the hard work so that you don't have to. The volume you have in your hands has compiled some of the most important and prominent research papers in the field of education and distilled them into a form that is genuinely useful to anyone chipping away at the chalk face. But, not only is this a resource of unparalleled utility, it's also a fascinating and world-enlarging read."

- David Didau, author of Making Kids Cleverer

"Future historians of education will look back on this period as a Renaissance; a time when dogma and orthodoxy were being challenged, and gate keepers, priesthoods and shamans felt the ground shift beneath their feet. The sleep of reason has bred monsters of pedagogy, and they have been fattened and nurtured by the relative ignorance of the teaching profession. Not a general ignorance, but a specific one: ignorance of the evidence bases behind the claims made in education. This Renaissance has been accompanied by an evolution, as teachers and academics reach out to one another and seek sincere, authentic dialogue. But, unless we stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us, each generation is doomed to rediscover what their ancestors painstakingly uncovered. For the health of the profession, we need the best of what we know in one place, so that successive generations of educators can carry on from their ancestors, and carry the conversation into the future rather than tread water endlessly.

This book is the perfect resource with which to do so. I can give no higher accolade than to say that every teacher should be familiar with the research it represents, its chapters should be required reading on every teacher induction course, and no teacher should account themselves a professional until they can demonstrate its acquaintance. I wish I had read it in the infancy of my career."

- Tom Bennett, Founder, researchED

"In these increasingly evidence-informed days, we are encouraged to be familiar with the research literature and reflect on the finding from within our own frames of reference. This book provides an interesting glimpse into some of the studies that have been influential in the thinking of the authors.

For the research geek, it is a thought-provoking read. It will be adored by many and I hope it introduces some to the complexity of psychology and the study of cognition."

- Megan Dixon, TES

"How Learning Happens is ambitious in reach, determined in argument and thorough in reasoning. The authors have produced a text that will aid teachers to appreciate and correctly use the science necessary to improve their practice. Schools looking to implement professional development on teaching and learning on an evidence-based footing would do well to use it as the foundation of any programme."

- Amir Arezoo, Schools Week

"The book is a resource which can be read cover to cover or can be dipped into as needed. In summary, a powerful, comprehensive work, which clearly explains the significance and relevance of the research discussed for teaching and learning in the classroom today."

- Hazel Trotter, Educational Psychology in Practice

"This book... is a major and substantive piece of work for those who do not yet know what it is to know the pertinence and value of the science behind effective teaching and learning."

- Neil H. Schwartz, TechTrends

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