Updated: Feb 8
As a teacher or parent, you want to give your students or children the best possible chance to succeed in their education. But with so many different teaching methods and educational philosophies to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. That's where cognitive science comes in. Cognitive science is the study of mental processes such as "attention, language use, perception, problem solving, memory, and thinking" (Cognitive Science, n.d.). By understanding how our brains process information, we can develop strategies to help children learn more effectively.
In this blog, we will explore some of the most powerful cognitive science learning and studying strategies that you can implement in your classroom or home to help children succeed. From active learning to feedback, spaced practice to elaboration, interleaving to retrieval practice, or concrete examples to dual coding, I'll show you how to use these strategies to create an environment that fosters learning and helps your children reach their full potential. Whether you're a teacher looking to improve your teaching methods or a parent wanting to support your child's learning, this blog is for you. Join me as we explore the world of cognitive science and discover how to use the latest research to help children learn better.
Implementing these strategies in the classroom and at home can help children learn and study more effectively to improve their overall understanding of the material:
1. Active learning: Actively engage with material by asking questions, participating in discussions, and completing hands-on activities. Active learning helps connect new information with prior knowledge and improves retention. This can be done through activities such as role-playing, debates, or simulations.
2. Feedback: Help understand strengths and weaknesses. Feedback can be given verbally, through written comments, or through a rubric.
3. Spaced practice: Space out the time intervals between studying the same material. The spacing effect states that people will retain more information if they study it at different intervals rather than cramming all of the studying into one session. This can be done by scheduling regular review sessions or by incorporating review into daily activities. Do a little bit over time so that it adds up.
4. Elaboration: Relate new information to personal experiences or make connections to ideas learning in class. Think of ways they are similar or different. Discuss, write, or draw about the ideas. Elaboration helps make connections between new information and what they already know, which improves retention and understanding.
5. Interleaving: Switching between different types of problems or concepts. Don’t study one idea for too long. Make links between different ideas when switching. Go back over the ideas in different orders to strengthen understanding. This strategy helps students to learn a wide range of information and to learn to transfer skills from one problem to another.
6. Retrieval Practice: Use practice tests at home or low stakes in class (no grade) and give feedback. Make flash cards recalling main ideas and think of links between ideas.
7. Concrete Examples: collect examples that either are teacher made or self- made. Self-made examples are the most helpful for learning but check for accuracy. Share and explain for added benefits. Make the link between the idea and example to better understand.
8. Dual Coding: Find visuals to connect with class materials and compare in words what they mean. Draw visuals to go with new information. Try to come up with different ways to represent the information visually, like an infographic, timeline, cartoon strip, or diagram of parts that work together. Work up to drawing from memory.
Incorporating these cognitive science strategies in the classroom and at home can make a significant difference in students' learning and understanding. By understanding the brain and how it processes information, we can develop strategies that help children learn more effectively. As a teacher or parent, you have the power to create an environment that fosters learning and helps your students or children reach their full potential.
To learn more about the six strategies for effective learning go to learningscientists.org. Learning Scientists has free materials for teachers and students, including printable posters. Click on this link to access: https://www.learningscientists.org/downloadable-materials.
Cognitive Science. (n.d.). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/cognitive-science.