Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Fluency in the science of learning

In a job advertisement I saw on LinkedIn today (no - I'm not looking for a different job!) for a Learning and Leadership Development Manager in Accenture, I came across the following requirement:

You Might Also Have: 
  • Fluency in the science of learning
In what was an interesting job advert - this stuck out, and I wondered what it meant. I Googled this exact sentence, but just got lots of websites advertising the same job. It seems to me to be a new expression written by the clever folks at Accenture - and I love it!

The Science of Learning can be described in many ways. In an interesting short paper by the Deans of Impact in 2015*, a summary of the "existing research from cognitive science related to how students learn, and connect this research to its practical implications for teaching and learning" is provided. They write that the Science of Learning is based on six questions:

  1. How do students understand new ideas?
  2. How do students learn and retain new information?
  3. How do students solve problems?
  4. How does learning transfer to new situations in or outside of the classroom?
  5. What motivates students to learn?
  6. What are common misconceptions about how students think and learn?

For each question, the answers are divided into Cognitive Principles, and Practical Implications for the Classroom. For example, in question 1 for the cognitive principle...

  • Students learn new ideas by reference to ideas they already know

... one of the practical implications is advice to provide...

  • A well-sequenced curriculum is important to ensure that students have the prior knowledge they need to master new ideas

For anyone involved in Learning and Teaching, "fluency" in the above six questions focused on students, plus their answers, is a must. The Deans for Impact paper shows educators that there is more to the Science of Learning than just turning up in class and hoping for the best.

*Deans for Impact (2015). The Science of Learning. Austin, TX: Deans for Impact. 

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