New Research-Based Resources Support Teacher Preparation

Teacher educators and teacher candidates have new resources in two high-level summaries of the research on learning. By distilling and organizing the existing research on cognitive science and educational psychology, the reports offer teacher candidates concise summaries of high-impact practices grounded in scientific evidence and professional consensus around PK-12 learning. Teacher preparation programs might find them valuable as resources to tie together learning science concepts that are integrated across multiple courses.

Report #1: Top 20 Principles From Psychology for Pre-K to 12 Teaching and Learning

The first report, from the American Psychological Association’s Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education, distills that field’s research into 20 key principles that affect teaching and learning. The report provides an explanation of each principle followed by its relevance for teachers, organized into clusters addressing five areas of psychological functioning:

  • How do students think and learn?
  • What motivates students?
  • Why are social context, interpersonal relationships, and emotional well-being important to student learning?
  • How can the classroom best be managed?
  • How can teachers assess student progress?

“The APA report points to important psychological science that can inform teacher preparation,” said coalition member Mary Brabeck, professor of applied psychology and Dean Emerita of the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University (and former chair of AACTE’s Board of Directors). “Our knowledge in the areas covered in the report continues to grow, and it is affirming to see the overlap between these two reports. Both translate research into practice.”

Report #2: The Science of Learning

The other report, released just this week by Deans for Impact, looks at similar research and asks some of the same questions, slightly shifting the emphasis to spotlight selected misconceptions as well as proven understandings:

  • How do students understand new ideas?
  • How do students learn and retain new information?
  • How do students solve problems?
  • How does learning transfer to new situations?
  • What motivates students to learn?
  • What are some common misconceptions about how students think and learn?

Like the APA report, this one lays out a set of principles—13 in this case, plus five misconceptions—accompanied by interpretations for their classroom implications. A list of the report’s supporters includes AACTE along with dozens of other organizations and individuals.

“Deans for Impact is grateful that AACTE has joined the broad coalition that supports The Science of Learning,” said Benjamin Riley, the group’s founder and executive director. “We believe teacher preparation programs should ensure that future educators understand this empirically validated body of knowledge—and programs should work to dispel prevalent ‘neuro-myths.’ Emphasizing these scientific principles—and just as importantly, connecting them to practice—has the potential to elevate the teaching profession and improve outcomes for students and educators.”

Deans for Impact and the Center for American Progress will cohost a panel discussion on the report October 6 in Washington, DC, titled “How Might We Translate Cognitive-Science Principles to Practice in Teacher Education?” Details are available on the organization’s web site.

“These reports provide a useful summary of what teacher candidates need to understand about learning science,” said AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson. “Even programs that adequately cover these topics can use these reports as reference resources for new teachers—and for veteran teachers. It is also important that policy be informed by these proven principles to encourage and permit practice that is dictated by what we know rather than by tradition.”

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