The National Research Council (NRC) recently issued Learning, Remembering, Believing: Enhancing Human Performance. The report, a synthesis of hundreds of research studies evaluating instructional techniques, concludes that lessons simulating specific tasks, such as games or role playing, facilitate learning best when coupled with direct teaching of abstract concepts. The NRC found that the teaching of abstract concepts helps students apply their learning to a wider range of situations than task-oriented activities alone.
NRC evaluators also found that when carefully scripted, cooperative learning can be more effective than individual study. According to the NRC, the greatest impediment to improving teaching is the fallacy of innate ability, the assumption that because of differences in aptitude, some children will do well in school and others won’t. Instead, the NRC stresses that teachers, students, and parents should view current achievement as the starting point from which his or her performance can gradually be improved.
“Learning, Remembering, Believing” available from National Academic Press, 2101 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC. 20418, (202) 334-3313.
Published in ERN January/February 1995, Volume 8, Number 1