Macmillan Shares Learning Science Foundations

Jeff Bergin, Ph.D., Vice President, Learning Research and Design

July 17th, 2018

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We are excited to begin sharing the Learning Science Foundations that are shaping Macmillan's next-generation learning solutions. These Foundations are syntheses of research in the learning sciences that are translated into specific design principles, pedagogical models, and learning frameworks that can readily be applied to learning experiences in order to drive better learner outcomes. In the words of one of our Learning Research Advisors, Dr. Christopher Dede from Harvard, "The learning sciences synthesize theoretical insights, research-based evidence, and the wisdom of practice into strong foundations on which to base curriculum, professional capacity building, and assessment."

For the past year, our Learning Science team has been busy developing these Foundations by carefully synthesizing learning research. In particular, we review research that meets quality criteria such as contribution to the field, recency, methodological-soundness, empirically-based and peer-reviewed. As a result, Macmillan's products are increasingly based upon these Learning Science Foundations, including learning models; a robust learning architecture that guides assessment, dashboard reporting, and remediation strategies; and a research-based approach to dashboard design and providing actionable insights for both instructors and students. We will be releasing each of these Foundations in the months ahead for your review, constructive criticism, and use.

Our Commitment
Macmillan is committed to designing products that are highly usable, effective, and drive better learner outcomes. We believe that findings in educational research and cognitive psychology play a major role in achieving those goals. We base our product design on educational research in order to:

  • Drive learner outcomes with every element of a product, from the type of instructional and assessment activities, through dashboards and reporting features, or the interventions that support participation, progress, and performance.

  • Engineer learning products that are more powerful, by combining "what works" from the learning sciences with findings from human-centered design, impact research, and analytics research.

  • Enable improvement from internal improvement of our assessment, measurement, and evaluation, to external improvement of how we support instructors and institutions to achieve better learner outcomes.

Our Approach
Our Learning Science Foundations are developed through a comprehensive and rigorous ten-step research and refinement process.

  1. Formulate research questions

  2. Conduct exploratory literature review

  3. Revisit and refine research questions

  4. Conduct confirmatory literature review

  5. Devise learning research artifact (framework, model, or principle)

  6. Review this with our LSI Leadership Team

  7. Review this with our external Learning Research Advisory Council

  8. Review this with our Student Codesign Group

  9. Begin applying the research to product design, iteration, and/or implementation

  10. Release these to the education community through our Learning Science and Insights website

Our Intent
Our intent in releasing these Learning Science Foundations is threefold. First, we hope that by sharing our research, we will shine a light on findings from the learning sciences that are making learning more effective and efficient. Second, we hope to advance the scholarship on how learning works and open our own research up to constructive critique and ongoing improvement. And third, we hope to inspire others -- instructors, institutions, and educational technology companies -- to adopt or adapt our work to improve their own pedagogies and products (and that's why we are releasing them under Creative Commons). "It is critical that the next generation of instructional materials, approaches, and experiences make robust use of research on learning - this initiative is an important step in this direction." said Dr. Erin Dolan, of the University of Georgia, another member of our Learning Research Advisory Council.

Our Research
Today, we are releasing the first of our Learning Science Foundations: Six Key Principles for Learning Experience Design. These principles, based on decades of educational research, form the "core beliefs" about teaching and learning that, taken together, help us unlock (and unblock) student learning. Subsequent research and design work that we release builds upon this and represents the foundation on which we are building a next generation of learning products to support learning and drive better learner outcomes.

Our Promise
We hope you will enjoy this, and future, Learning Science Foundations. We invite you to use these Foundations to improve the learning experiences that you design, whether you are an instructor, instructional designer, or user experience designer. And, we promise to consider any feedback you may provide to us as we continue to evolve these Foundations.

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