What We Know About Learning

groupexpmntWe have typically judged the success of learning in terms of how much knowledge a student has acquired. But what about the quality of what is being learned? Today, it’s understood the quality of knowledge is just as important as the amount one can possess.

There was also a time when learning was understood as a linear process, a progression through different ages and stages. Today, researchers and educators view growth, development and learning as more dynamic. It’s influenced by neurology, psychology, social and cultural factors. Learning is adaptive – we build new knowledge and skills on the basis of what we already know. Research has also shown the changes that underlie learning in the brain do not occur when learning experiences are not active. We learn best by acting on, thinking and actually participating in the world.

Learning solely through the direct transfer of information, then, needs to be replaced with a focus on the active construction of knowledge. This involves work that is meaningful, has a necessary depth of study, and assesses students’ deep understanding.

Learn more by reading Chapter 1 of Focus on Inquiry.

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