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In this chapter, we discuss the challenges of improving education and discuss how the Cambridge handbook of cognition and education is organized. We highlight the key points of each chapter and how they may inform best practices on improving student achievement.
In this chapter, we explore the similarities and differences between the learning sciences (LS) and cognitive psychology applied to education (CP), and the potential synergy created through further integrating them. We believe that their mutual strengths can result in a deeper understanding of how learning occurs, and how to design learning environments that maximally foster learning.
This Handbook reviews a wealth of research in cognitive and educational psychology that investigates how to enhance learning and instruction to aid students struggling to learn and to advise teachers on how best to support student learning. The Handbook includes features that inform readers about how to improve instruction and student achievement based on scientific evidence across different domains, including science, mathematics, reading and writing. Each chapter supplies a description of the learning goal, a balanced presentation of the current evidence about the efficacy of various approaches to obtaining that learning goal, and a discussion of important future directions for research in this area. It is the ideal resource for researchers continuing their study of this field or for those only now beginning to explore how to improve student achievement.
Learning and retaining class material is not only the primary goal in many class exercises (e.g. from learning the ABC to the periodic table of the elements) but may be essential for successfully mastering more complex lessons (e.g. reading, and developing chemical compounds). Accordingly, many researchers and educators have devoted their careers to engineering techniques that will improve learning. In the present chapter, we discuss the utility of one technique for improving individuals' ability to master new materials: practice tests or self-testing. A practice test involves an individual testing their memory or comprehension of class material to evaluate whether they will succeed on a subsequent test and, as such, can be considered a metacognitive activity. That is, practice testing may inform the learner about the degree to which to-be-learned materials have been stored in memory (or have been comprehended) so that they can accurately predict future test performance. In this way, practice tests may help students to regulate their study more effectively. For instance, a student may devise a test to evaluate whether to-be-learned material can be retrieved. If the material is retrieved during the test, they can move on to study other less well-learned materials. If the material is not successfully retrieved, then more study time should be allocated. The idea is that self-testing will improve the efficiency of self-regulated learning by helping students isolate poorly learned material for restudy. This simple strategy has been included in popular learning techniques and is undoubtedly used by many students.
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