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Helping Our Kids Get Smarter. A presentation by Annie Murphy Paul. By using effective learning techniques By developing metacognition By sharpening attention By reducing anxiety By stimulating interest and curiosity. How We Get Smarter. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Highlights from the Science of Learning

Helping Our Kids Get SmarterA presentation by Annie Murphy Paul{By using effective learning techniquesBy developing metacognitionBy sharpening attentionBy reducing anxietyBy stimulating interest and curiosityHow We Get Smarter

(URL is at the bottom of your handout)See Website For More Info Most students are never explicitly taught learning skills. They use techniques passed on informally from parents, teachers and peers.Many of the most commonly-used learning techniques are among the least effective.Effective Learning SkillsStudents love to use highlighters; they are a security blanket.But highlighting exacerbates students tendency to focus on isolated pieces of information.Study shows that students who highlight while reading performed worse on a test of comprehension.

HighlightingIn place of highlighting, encourage students to engage in elaborative interrogation.Pause every few sentences while reading and ask yourself: Why? Why is that so?Students need to change their standard of knowing: from being able to understand when something is explained to them, to being able to explain it themselves. Elaborative InterrogationFor many students, re-reading notes and textbooks is studyingthey dont know any other way.But re-reading gives students a familiarity with the material that they confuse with actually knowing it.This knowledge evaporates as soon as they sit down to take a test.Re-ReadingIn place of re-reading, encourage students to engage in retrieval practice.Basically, this is self-testing: putting notes and textbooks away and recalling the material from memory.Every time we retrieve information from memory, that memory is strengthened. Retrieval PracticeStudents often do problem sets on autopilot, mechanically applying formulas.A more effective substitute for this practice is interleaving.An interleaved approach mixes up different kinds of problems to be practice, instead of grouping them by type. Interleaved PracticeCramming is when students stuff a semesters worth of learning into their heads in a matter of hours.They may actually do fine on a test taken soon thereafter, but that knowledge will be almost entirely lost to their long-term memory.CrammingInstead of concentrating information in single blocks, spaced repetition has students encounter the same material in briefer sessions spread over longer periods of time.Spaced repetition leads to much better recall of material studied. Repeated exposure to information fixes it more permanently in our brains.Spaced RepetitionStudents are not very good judges of how well theyre learning.They lack metacognitive awarenessthe capacity to judge what they know and what they dont know.This lack of judgment is especially common among low-performing students.Developing MetacognitionPrompt students to reflect on their own learning, and show them how and when to engage in such reflection. Supply information about what your student is doingnot just praise or criticism.Help students learn to collect information about their performance on their own. Reflecting on LearningBefore you look at your grade, predict what you think it will be, and write down your prediction.Now that youve looked at your grade, is it higher or lower than you predicted? What were the easiest questions for you to answer on this test? What were the hardest? Why?What are the areas where you need to devote more time and practice?How will you change your study strategies to do better on the next exam?

Reflective QuestionsResearch shows that media multitasking during learning leads to spottier and shallower knowledge. Todays students are tempted to media multitask while studying, while writing papers, and even during class. Technology and LearningThe brain cannot do two complex tasks at the same time.Theres nothing special about the brains of digital natives that allows them to multitask without cognitive cost. Myths of MultitaskingAssignments take longer to complete.Mental fatigue leads to more mistakes.Subsequent memory is impaired. Transfer of knowledge is hindered.Grades are lower. Effects of MultitaskingStudents can allow themselves tech breaks.Media multitasking is fine sometimes, but when students are doing serious academic work, thats all they should be doing.Resisting MultitaskingAnxiety leads to poorer performance because students worries use up some of the mental resources they would otherwise devote to the test.Anxiety can expand over time to affect any situation in which a student is being evaluated.Anxiety and LearningStudents spend ten minutes writing about their thoughts and feelings, immediately before taking a test. When students offload their anxieties in this way, they have more mental resources at their disposal and their test scores go up.Offload Worries on PaperStudents spend ten minutes writing about a personal value that is central to their lives.This value affirmation exercise is especially helpful to female students and students of color, who may suffer from stereotype threat.Affirm Personal ValuesStudents draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper, labeling it Me.They then draw spokes radiating out from the circle, each one labeled with an aspect of their identity: classmate, friend, athlete, artist, etc. By representing the richness of their identities, students come to see that one single test doesnt loom so large.Map Multiple IdentitiesIn recent years, science has begun investigating what interest is, how interest develops, what makes things interesting, and how we can cultivate interest in our young people.Interest in a subject leads students to think more clearly, understand more deeply, and remember more accurately. Cultivating InterestInterest is a psychological state of engagement, experienced in the moment, and also a predisposition to engage repeatedly with the material over time. Its an approach urge that pushes back against our natural avoid urges.Interest diversifies experience, but it also focuses it.What Interest IsInterest is at once a cognitive state and and affective state.Interest powerfully influences our academic and professional choices.Interest can even allow students to overcome academic difficulties or perceptual disabilities. What Interest DoesJohn Dewey said teachers have to catch and hold interest. Interesting things are novel, complex, and comprehensible. Interest leads to questions, which leads to learning, which in turn leads to more questions.Parents can share their own interests and passions.Catching InterestCuriosity arises when attention becomes focused on gaps in ones knowledge.To open an information gap, start with the questionnot with the answer.Open Information GapsShare your own personal interests with your kids.A study of professional musicians found that the most important characteristics of the musicians first teachers were their ability to communicate wall, and to pass on their own love of music. Show Your PassionMaintaining interest is about finding deeper meaning and purpose in the exercise of interest.But emphasizing the importance of material to students future can actually undermine interest. Instead, allow students to generate their own connections and discover relevance for themselves. Holding InterestA value intervention helps students see the value of what theyre learning for themselves. When you ask, What did you learn in school today, you can follow up with questions like, How do you think people might use that knowledge in their jobs? or What could that skill help you do?The Value of InterestSupport students feelings of competence and self-efficacy.This will help them to sustain their attention and motivation when then encounter challenging or confusing material.Weaker students need more assistance; stronger students can be given more autonomy and self-direction.Sustaining InterestYou can read more of my work on the science of learning at my website:

www.anniemurphypaul.comThank You!