Cramming – You Don’t Learn from Episodic Memory

Thoughts about Higher Education

Actually cramming works to pass a test, and for millions of students that is the only goal for their education. Eighty-five percent of the students entering university in 2016 were doing so in order to get a qualification that would lead to a better job. For them, cramming works, because they have no intention to learn anything, just get a degree.

Research tells us that immediately following a lecture, students recall about 42% of the material. Two weeks later, they recall about 20%. A year later, they recall less than 10%. Although cramming will get a student through an exam, they don’t really learn anything.

The why is really quite simple. When students study for a test they are using what is called episodic memory. Episodic memory is a type of memory that we use every day. When you think about what you ate for breakfast this morning or what…

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The Failed Promise of Technology

Thoughts about Higher Education

Why is it that technology has not revolutionized education. The promise of the decades has failed to fundamentally change education in any meaningful way. With all the educational technologies promising to change the world, I still have to agree with  William Bagley (1934) “If I were seriously ill and in desperate need of a physician, and if by some miracle I could secure either Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, or a young imgresdoctor fresh from John Hopkins School of Medicine, with his equipment comprising the latest developments in the technologies and techniques of medicine, I should, of course, take the young doctor. On the other hand, if I were commissioned to find a teacher for a group of adolescent boys, and if by some miracle, I could secure Socrates or the latest Ph.D. from Teachers College, with his latest technologies and techniques of teaching,… I am fairly certain that I…

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What is Needed for Learning to Think

Thoughts about Higher Education

There are three primary ingredients necessary to teach students how to think. They are 1) a way to motivate the students to engage in the process, 2) the ideal way for them to learn how to think, and 3) a technology that allows you to bring the other two together and scale it up to class sizes just under 100. It took some time for me to find a way to bring all three together, but I figured it out and have been teaching that way for about seven years now.

The method of teaching works when the students have a basic background in the subject. This method has worked across a variety of subjects from Learning and Education  and Social Cognition (subjects you would expect the students to love learning with the method I use), to Advanced Research Methods. When you teach students they way they learn and…

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Higher Thinking and Higher Education

Virtually every higher education institution has in its mission statement or some other sloganistic pronouncement reference to the development of critical thinking skills - also known as higher thinking skills of formal operational thinking. We know from extensive research that brain development during adolescence confers on adults without intellectual disability the ability to engage in … Continue reading Higher Thinking and Higher Education

Discussion Group – Continued Professional Development

I am an educational reformer - because I truly believe education is broken. Unfortunately, the current philosophies for moving education forward are founded in traditional education. Traditional education, with roots in social constructionist philosophies, tell us that reality is a social construct, and so there is no such thing as an objective truth. As a … Continue reading Discussion Group – Continued Professional Development

Mindset (again) and Learning Styles (again)

I just finished teaching my University class yesterday, and one of the focusses this year (by the students) was a focus on mindsets. Several of them wrote about mindsets, and a couple of them drew the link between mindset and learning styles (they were prompted during their presentations by someone). It has reminded me again … Continue reading Mindset (again) and Learning Styles (again)

Discovery Learning in Math?

Unbelievable! Discovery based learning - a huge failure in the wrong context - is the latest fad in teaching math to children in Canada. Discovery-based learning is the idea that someone is given a problem to resolve, and they will explore ways to solve the problem. Brilliant idea, but problematic to the core. Problem-based learning … Continue reading Discovery Learning in Math?

Information Digitization – a Paradigm Shift

There is a paradigm shift taking place in learning today. I have written before that there is a paradigm shift in education, but the status quo is reinforcing the traditional trenches in a way that is unbelievable in today's world. Just as the Germans simply zipped around the impregnable Maginot line (the massively reinforced trenches from WWI) … Continue reading Information Digitization – a Paradigm Shift

Conformity and Education

I have written before about the drive for conformity in education. Given the massification of education which has led to huge classrooms with, literally, hundreds of students being taught, conformity is essential. It has become, unabashedly, one of the central and core tenants of education. When I wrote about conformity three years ago, I focussed on … Continue reading Conformity and Education

Moral Reasoning

Last week I posted about the lack of ability to engage in deductive reasoning in the general adult population. As well as the problems I highlighted there, one aspect that deserves further attention is the effect that has on moral development. Piaget assumed that all people, when they reached adolescence, would progress naturally from his … Continue reading Moral Reasoning