How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom pdf.
How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom.
Preface of How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom book:
This book has its roots in the report of the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (National Research Council, 1999, National Academy Press). That report presented an illuminating review of research in a variety of fields that has advanced understanding of human learning. The report also made an important attempt to draw from that body of knowledge implications for teaching. A follow-on study by a second committee explored what research and development would need to be done, and how it would need to be communicated, to be especially useful to teachers, principals, superintendents, and policymakers: How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice (National Research Council, 1999). These two individual reports were combined to produce an expanded edition of How People Learn (National Research Council, 2000). We refer to this volume as HPL. In the present book, the goal is to take the HPL work to the next step: to provide examples of how the principles and findings on learning can be used to guide the teaching of a set of topics that commonly appear in the K12 curriculum. As was the case in the original work (1999), the book focuses on three subject areas: history, mathematics, and science. Each area is treated at three levels: elementary, middle, and high school. Distinguished researchers who have extensive experience in teaching or in partnering with teachers were invited to contribute the chapters. The committee shaped the goals for the volume and commented—sometimes extensively—on the draft chapters as they were written and revised. The principles of HPL are embedded in each chapter, though there are differences from one chapter to the next in how explicitly they are discussed.
Taking this next step to elaborate on the HPL principles in context poses a potential problem that we wish to address at the outset. The meaning and relevance of the principles for classroom teaching can be made clearer with specific examples. At the same time, however, many of the specifics of a particular example could be replaced with others that are also consistent with the HPL principles. In looking at a single example, it can be difficult to distinguish what is necessary to effective teaching from what is effective but easily replaced. With this in mind, it is critical that the teaching and learning examples in each chapter be seen as illustrative, not as blueprints for the “right” way to teach.
We can imagine, by analogy, that engineering students will better grasp the relationship between the laws of physics and the construction of effective supports for a bridge if they see some examples of well-designed bridges, accompanied by explanations for the choices of the critical design features. The challenging engineering task of crossing the entrance of the San Francisco Bay, for example, may bring the relationship between physical laws, physical constraints, and engineering solutions into clear and meaningful focus. But there are some design elements of the Golden Gate Bridge that could be replaced with others that serve the same end, and people may well differ on which among a set of good designs creates the most appealing bridge.
To say that the Golden Gate Bridge is a good example of a suspension bridge does not mean it is the only, or the best possible, design for a suspension bridge. If one has many successful suspension bridges to compare, the design features that are required for success, and those that are replaceable, become more apparent. And the requirements that are uniform across contexts, and the requirements that change with context, are more easily revealed.
The chapters in this volume highlight different approaches to addressing the same fundamental principles of learning. It would be ideal to be able to provide two or more “HPL compatible” approaches to teaching the same topic (for example, the study of light in elementary school). However, we cannot provide that level of specific variability in this already lengthy volume. Nevertheless, we hope that common features across chapters, and the variation in approach among the chapters, are sufficient to provide instructive insights into the principles laid out in How People Learn. This volume could not have come to life without the help and dedication of many people, and we are grateful to them. First and foremost, the committee acknowledges the contributions of Robbie Case, who was to have contributed to the mathematics chapters in this volume. Robbie was at the height of a very productive career when his life came to an unexpected end in May 2000. Robbie combined the very best in disciplinary research and attention to the incorporation of research findings into classroom tools to support teaching and learning. In this respect, he was a model for researchers interested in supporting improved educational practice.
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