The Cognitive Principles of Effective Teaching Video 1 of 5

The Cognitive Principles of Effective Teaching Video 1 of 5

December 4, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


Hi, I’m Stephen Chew, a professor of psychology here at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m a cognitive psychologist who studies
teaching and learning. This is the first in a series of videos
on the cognitive principles of effective teaching. In the series I hope to show what the cognitive factors are that teachers need to be aware of in order to teach effectively. I’m not promoting any single best teaching
method that everyone should use. My basic argument is this: To be effective,
any teaching method has to be grounded in the cognitive architecture of the human mind. It must take advantage of what the
mind is good at doing and cope with its limitations. If a teaching method fails to mesh with the limitations and properties of the human mind, then it will fail, no matter how well intentioned or executed. Cognitive psychologists do not know the exact
conditions which make learning occur, but we do know that there are factors and strategies which make it more likely or less likely to happen. All teachers have a mental theory of how people
learn that guides their choice and implementation of pedagogy. If their theory is accurate, they will be
effective teachers. If their theory is simplistic, inaccurate,
or incomplete, it will undermine their teaching effectiveness. Cognitive research can inform teaching practice
in important ways. This first video explains how the beliefs that teachers hold can influence their teaching effectiveness. One of the most fundamental beliefs that teachers hold
is their primary goal of teaching. There seem to be two basic views
on this. In the information-driven view, the goal of
teaching is seen as presenting information that students are responsible for learning. In this view, the role of the teachers
is to provide accurate and up-to-date information, and to present it in
an interesting, clear and even an inspiring manner. Teaching is straightforward. It doesn’t require any sort of special
training beyond knowledge of your field. In the learning-driven view, the primary goal
of teaching is to develop a deep and connected understanding on the part of students. This means that teaching is more than presenting
information and being inspiring. Success is gauged by student learning. No matter how interesting or engagingly
information is presented, if the students don’t learn, then teaching is not successful. Learning becomes a shared responsibility
between the student and teacher. In this view, teaching comes deeply challenging. It requires more than just presenting information, it requires a knowledge of how people learn. Teaching skill takes years to develop and
is n ever really mastered. I believe cognitive research supports the
latter view that teaching success is measured by student learning, teachers have a huge impact on whether students learn, what they learn, and how likely they are to use it and that impact can be used positive or negative. Nira Hativa has conducted research
on teachers who are ineffective in getting their students to learn. These teachers are not lazy or indifferent,
they simply have beliefs that seem to undermine their effectiveness. Here are some beliefs that are related to ineffective
learning: The first two beliefs are directly related to the information driven view that teaching is about presenting information. The third belief, that making learning easy
is “watering down” material, comes from the assumption that the more students struggle,
the more they will learn. We will see in a later video that this is
not true. Making information easier to learn is not
the same as spoon feeding students, and there is a difference between making it as easy
as possible for students to learn challenging material and having them struggle needlessly. For the belief that students will come to
appreciate your teaching later, the research is clear that emotional responses to teachers
are stable over time. In other words, if you think of a class you
absolutely despised back when you were younger, chances are you still despise it now. The last two beliefs are related to mental
mindset, and the distinction that Carol Dweck makes between a “fixed” vs. “growth”
mindset. A growth mindset is the idea that our ability
improves as a direct result of the effort we put into it. In a fixed mindset, a person believes that
ability is inborn and unchangeable, one is either naturally good at a skill or not. For students, a growth mindset is superior
for learning to a fixed mindset, and the same is true for teachers. Teachers who approach teaching skill with
a growth mindset are generally more effective than teachers who believe that teaching skill
is in-born, not made through effort. I believe understanding the cognitive principles of teaching is important
for effective teaching and for teaching teaching practice to advance. Without a cognitive framework, teaching becomes
fad driven. Fads promise to revolutionize teaching they’re popular for awhile, but then they fade away without a trace. In the next video, we will begin exploring
the cognitive factors that influence teaching.