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The Science Behind a Better Education
November 29th, 2018
That question was partially answered Sophomore year in a class appropriately called Educational Neuroscience, in which we explored how neural underpinnings of memory, attention, emotion, stress, and adolescence affect the learning process. This course instilled great hope: the exciting and interdisciplinary field of learning science has the power to make a lasting impact for students, teachers, and schools. Still, research in this realm, though promising and novel, is subject to reduced funding, and plenty of critics seek to poke holes in the scientific methods used. It was unclear at the time if anything else beyond research could come out of it as a fulfilling occupation.
After collaborating with Macmillan for the last eight months on the student advisory board for educational co-design, I can confidently say that a career in learning science is not only realizable, but also increasingly more important as inequality and stratification remain rampant in our schools systems. For those arguing that teachers can do nothing with a stack of their students' brain scans during a learning activity, I would completely agree. The point is not to force complex scientific methods and data into classrooms, but rather for learning science to enable a more accessible, effective, and engaging educational experience.
Of Macmillan's six key principles for learning experience design, two in particular stand out to me. First, that cognition can be enhanced using technology, and second, that pedagogy matters. Learning science's biggest tool at the moment - and my core interest - is the development of educational technology. Macmillan's technology initiatives that focus on self-efficacy, study habits, and fairer assessments are changing the way students tackle the big hurdles of school. Designing products based on measurable and practical learning outcomes is just one of the ways Macmillan is at the forefront of the field. Yet, in the digital age, it is always important to remember that technology must never replace the human relationships crucial to success. This is where the second principle of pedagogy comes in. Meeting students where they are, allowing for self-regulated learning skills to grow, and fostering meaningful relationships in the classroom are all part of a teacher's work not necessarily reflected in the curriculum. Using technology to improve upon these best teaching practices, while challenging, is incredibly rewarding when done right.
I would be nowhere without the outstanding education I have received thus far in my life. As I finish up the second half of my college experience and look forward to what comes next, I know that I want to bring that same love of learning to new generations of students. I would like to thank Macmillan for giving me a wonderful outlet to explore my interests in co-design and development of exciting new technologies to improve the student experience. Learning science will help guide education into the future. I look forward to being part of it all when it happens.
Ben Thier is a member of Macmillan's Student Codesign Group, and a Junior at Duke University studying Neuroscience and Education. Born and raised in New York City, Ben is currently studying abroad at the University of Sydney in Australia. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis for Duke's Club team, scuba diving, and listening to way too many podcasts.
Entrepreneurship in educational technology, also known simply as edupreneurship, is a hot topic-so hot that there are conferences devoted to it (including next week's ASUGSV), philanthropic efforts focused on it (such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and even graduate degrees concentrating on it (including the University of Pennsylvania's M.S. in Education Entrepreneurship).
April 9, 2019
“Active learning enhances motivation, deepens retention, promotes transfer, and builds collaborative skills useful in work and life.” Dr. Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
March 11, 2019
Learning Science News
Browse Our Archive
Learning Science: Taking It Step-By-Step | April 19, 2019
The Power of Active Learning: Does It Work? | March 11, 2019
Learning for Life: A Reality for Everyone | January 25, 2019
The Science Behind a Better Education | November 29, 2018
Beyond the hype of big data in education | September 7, 2018
Learning Models: Enabling Research-Based Approaches to Active Learning | August 27, 2018
A new standard for measuring the efficacy of ed tech? | August 17, 2018
‘My Class Is Different!’ | August 13, 2018
Macmillan Shares Learning Science Foundations | July 17, 2018
Macmillan Learning Announces Learning Research Advisory Council | June 26, 2018
Unveiling Macmillan Learning’s Student Co-designers | April 12, 2018
Learning Science’s Impact on Digital Products You Use | April 6, 2018
Good, better, best: helping to realize student potential | January 11, 2018
Unpacking the Black Box of Efficacy | November 29, 2017
Macmillan Launches Austin Learning Lab | November 13, 2017
Two mindsets every designer and researcher should embrace | September 18, 2017
Learning science, insights, and the journey to better outcomes | June 28, 2017
Macmillan Learning Redefines a Learner-Centered Strategy | May 10, 2017
Making efficacy research more actionable | May 8, 2017
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