The Research Background to this Report

When I reflect on why I taught the way I did, there's a nagging question at the back of my mind. How effective were my teaching methods and my teaching style? On the one hand I can say a few things in my defense : I can point to the teachers I liked and how they taught me, and to what I was taught at Fac. Ed. Most students seemed to like my classes. Not too many fell asleep, looked horribly bored, or were openly insulting to me. Parents seemed to like what I was doing and I didn't get fired. But there's another dimension to the question. Just because people in my past taught me a certain way, or that I felt good about how I taught, does this mean that my approach to teaching and my teaching methods were effective? Is replication and self-assessment the best measures of success in teaching?

That question was the origin of this article. I decided to find out what recent research can tells us about the process of effective teaching and learning. Can neurological and psychological research teach us how to be more effective teachers? I've taken recent research finding on learning and understanding and filtered them through my thirty years' experience to try to develop more successful ways to help students learn.

Among the studies I will refer to are:

Harvard University Project Zero studies :
ALPS = Active Learning Practices for Schools
Tfu = Teaching for Understanding The Teaching for Understanding project was a five-year research program that focused on teaching and
learning in four subjects (English, history, math, and science) and interdisciplinary studies. The main
findings can be found in:
The Teaching for Understanding Guide. Tina Blythe and Associates, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. (1998)

"How Does the Brain Remember the Places of Your Past?" Psychology Today, Nov 30, 2013

"How are memories formed?" University of Queensland Brain Institute, July 23, 2018

"How Students Learn" George Brown, A supplement to the RoutledgeFalmer Key Guides for Effective Teaching in Higher Education series (2004)

"How Students Learn History in the Classroom" M. Suzanne Donovan, John D. Bransford, National Academies Press, National Research Council (2005)

"The Human Memory"

"Learning Modalities: Pathways to Effective Learning " Dr. Patricia Hutinger (PBS, Nov. 2001)

"Learning Styles: Unlock your True Potential" Dunn and Dunn, 2010

"Magic Trees of the Mind" Diamond M. & Hopson. J., Dutton, New York (1989)

"Teaching for Understanding" David Perkins, American Educator: The Professional Journal of the American Federation of Teachers (Fall 1993)

"The Neuroscience of Forming New Memories" Psychology Today, (July 20, 2015)

"Teaching for Understanding : Questions to ask Yourself and Your Students" Chris Unger, former Professional Development Director at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Understanding by Design : The Importance of Understanding " John L. Brown - based on the principles of Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigue

"What Do We Know from Brain Research?" Pat Wolfe and Ron Brandt, Educational Leadership: How the Brain Works (Nov. 1998)

Next:How Memories are Created and Retrieved