Higher Education, The Science of Learning

Action Application

Yesterday, I wrote about Action Research so today I am going to write about an alternative, Action Application. Teachers are professionals who teach. I believe that you know if an intervention is successful at helping students with their learning. As a professional, you can judge the real success of a change by the way your students respond to it. So much of what we can do to really help our students isn’t really measurable in ways that open us to research methodological criticisms.

We can make changes and judge the effect without pretending to be something that we aren’t trained for. In spite of what academia would have us believe about the prestige of research as compared to teaching, it is simply not true. Teaching is a noble profession and we don’t need to pretend that we are something that we are not. The kudos for research as an activity that will bring acclaim and prestige to a teacher cheapens the profession and tells the world that in the hierarchy of what we do, research is far, far more important. Don’t believe it. Helping students reach their fullest potential is one of the greatest contributions that anyone can make to this world.

What I mean by Action Application is taking what we know (scientifically) about learning and figuring out how to apply it to our teaching. When we do that, we don’t need measurements or statistics to tell us if it is effective. We can simply look at our students and smile as we see real improvement in what they are doing. Basing our interventions on the proven principles of learning will give us the confidence to make the changes and watch the effect.

I’ve done it using as many principles from The Science of Learning that I can fit into a single class and the results are phenomenal. From both the student perspective and my perspective as a teacher. The students have and will continue to say, “…this has been the hardest class I have ever taken but the most exhilarating learning experience I have ever had!” – a response that I have heard over and over again. I overheard one student telling another that she had to drop two other classes in order to keep up with the workload that my class requires. When her friend asked her why she didn’t just drop my class, she just looked at her, a bit puzzled, and asked, “Would you?”

We all recognize the flash (more than a gleam) that comes into the eyes of a student who is really learning and learning to think. By applying The Science of Learning principles, I get to see that every day, all semester long (at least after the first terrifying two weeks). I can see the real joy of learning over and over again. I love my teaching – and I hardly say a word. I just listen and enjoy – not quite true, I do participate in one of the discussions that are taking place during every class period.

I have written over and over about the principles that underlie The Science of Learning. I have written about how I apply those principles. I know, from experience, exactly how wonderful this can make teaching. I invite you to try it yourself.

Take up the challenge and try Action Application. I promise you that you won’t be sorry.

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