How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching is an outstanding reference for teachers. It holds particular value for college instructors who are subject matter experts but may lack expertise in the principles of teaching and learning which includes many adjuncts and new full-time instructors.
7 Principles for Smart Teaching
The seven principles put forth in this book are teaching lessons for us all to learn. In future articles I will give my interpretation of these seven and how they can be applied.
The authors brought this book down to a basic level that virtually every college instructors can understand. But having reflected on the principles below, my goal will be to make them even more “hands-on” for my readers, especially those who teach potentially problematic courses such as general education math and sciences courses and career/technical education courses.
Having said all that, PLEASE PLEASE read this book yourself to get the full benefit. How Learning Works is one of the most valuable references I have in my personal library. But if I have not convinced you of its value, read the accolades others have given the book in the How Learning Works Recommendations section below.
For now, let me just share those seven principles:
Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.
How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know.
Students’ motivation generates, directs, and sustains what they do to learn.
To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned.
Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback are critical to learning.
Students current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning.
To become self-directed learners, students must learn to assess the demands of the task, evaluate their own knowledge and skills, plan their approach, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed.
How Learning Works Book Recommendations
Don’t take my word for it; read what prominent professional educators had to say about How Learning Works:
“How Learning Works” is the perfect title for this excellent book. Drawing upon new research in psychology, education, and cognitive science, the authors have demystified a complex topic into clear explanations of seven powerful learning principles. Full of great ideas and practical suggestions, all based on solid research evidence, this book is essential reading for instructors at all levels who wish to improve their students’ learning.
This book is a must-read for every instructor, new or experienced. Although I have been teaching for almost thirty years, as I read this book I found myself resonating with many of its ideas, and I discovered new ways of thinking about teaching.
Thank you Carnegie Mellon for making accessible what has previously been inaccessible to those of us who are not learning scientists. Your focus on the essence of learning combined with concrete examples of the daily challenges of teaching and clear tactical strategies for faculty to consider is a welcome work. I will recommend this book to all my colleagues.
As you read about each of the seven basic learning principles in this book, you will find advice that is grounded in learning theory, based on research evidence, relevant to college teaching, and easy to understand. The authors have extensive knowledge and experience in applying the science of learning to college teaching, and they graciously share it with you in this organized and readable book.
Ambrose, S., Bridges, M., Lovett, M., DiPitietro, M. & Norman, M. (2010) How learning works: seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.