Cognitive science evidence

Cognitive science evidence

We’ve used findings from cognitive science, because it helps us to understand why particular strategies work in the classroom. Want to know more? Read on!

A diagram showing how cognitive science evidence feeds into evidence-based teaching

Cognitive science includes two disciplines: cognitive neuroscience, which looks at how the brain learns, and cognitive psychology, which is the study of mental processes like attention, language use, memory, and creativity. We’ve used two sources for our cognitive science evidence. These are:

Principles of Instruction
The International Academy of Education

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Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning
The Institute for Educational Sciences

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International Academy of Education:
Principles of Instruction

The International Academy of Education (IAE) is a not-for-profit scientific association that promotes educational research and is based at the Royal Academy of Science, Literature and Arts in Brussels, Belgium.

The IAE published a review called Principles of Instruction. It presents ten principles for instruction and suggestions for classroom practice which are based on research.

International Academy of Education: Principles of Instruction

The International Academy of Education (IAE) is a not-for-profit scientific association that promotes educational research and is based at the Royal Academy of Science, Literature and Arts in Brussels, Belgium.

The IAE published a review called Principles of Instruction. It presents ten principles for instruction and suggestions for classroom practice which are based on research.

An image of the book Visible Learning by John Hattie

The review focuses on ten recommendations, which are shown in the list on the right.

You can read the review online for free! Click here to have a look, or have a look here to learn more about the International Academy of Education.

IAE principles

  1. Daily review of previous learning
  2. Present new material using small steps
  3. Ask questions
  4. Provide models
  5. Guide student practice
  6. Check for understanding
  7. Obtain a high success rate,
  8. Scaffold for difficult tasks
  9. Independent practice
  10. Weekly and monthly reviews.

Institute for Educational Sciences:
Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning

An image of the Educational Endowment Foundation logo

The Institute for Educational Sciences is the statistics, research, and evaluation branch of the US Department of Education. It seeks to provide scientific evidence to help inform educational practice and policy.

This book is a practice guide, which is a set of practical recommendations based on research. For each recommendation it gives a rating of how strong the supporting evidence is, and gives a break down of ways to implement it.

Institute for Educational Sciences: Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning

The Institute for Educational Sciences is the statistics, research, and evaluation branch of the US Department of Education. It seeks to provide scientific evidence to help inform educational practice and policy.

This book is a practice guide, which is a set of practical recommendations based on research. For each recommendation it gives a rating of how strong the supporting evidence is, and gives a break down of ways to implement it.

An image of the Educational Endowment Foundation logo

The book draws out seven key recommendations, which are shown in the list on the right.

The book is available online for free! Click here to have a look, or here to find out more about the Institute.

IES principles

  1. Space learning over time.
  2. Interweave worked example solutions and problem-solving exercises.
  3. Combine graphics with verbal descriptions.
  4. Connect and integrate abstract and concrete representations of concepts.
  5. Use quizzing to promote learning.
  6. Help students allocate study time efficiently.
  7. Help students build explanations by asking and answering deep questions.

Neuroscience evidence

A brain scan showing the areas of the brain that are active at the time of the scan

 

It’s an exciting time in neuroscience as we gain access to more and more knowledge about the brain and the way we think and learn.

In the last twenty years there have been a number of major discoveries and advances in neuroscience, including brain mapping, neurogenetics, optogenetics, and advances in therapy.

All of this means that we now know much more about how our brains work, which we can use to make our teaching even more effective!

 

Neuroscience evidence

It’s an exciting time in neuroscience as we gain access to more and more knowledge about the brain and the way we think and learn.

In the last twenty years there have been a number of major discoveries and advances in neuroscience, including brain mapping, neurogenetics, optogenetics, and advances in therapy.

All of this means that we now know much more about how our brains work, which we can use to make our teaching even more effective!

A brain scan showing the areas of the brain that are active at the time of the scan

Neuroscience is a vast and fascinating area of research and knowledge. Here’s a whistle stop tour! (Swipe horizontally or click on the arrows)

The brain consists of a series of specialist areas.

When most of these areas work well and communicate with each other, 'intelligence' emerges.

On the other hand, when specific skills are missing, 'learning difficulties' emerge.

The brain can change, and most skills can be improved. This is called 'plasticity'.

New learning consists of making new links between neurons (brain-cells). This creates long-term memories.

New learning must link to existing knowledge to be fully understand and absorbed.

The brain naturally links things that are similar. We remember things by their groupings or classification.

Repetition is vital for making long term memories. The repetitions must be spaced.

Our working memory is very limited and has only 5-9 slots. In order to avoid overloading our working memory, we can work with chunks of information.

We understand abstract objects and processes by linking them to current knowledge using similes and analogies. We also use working memory and “the sketchpad” for abstract thinking.

So there we have it! Let's whizz on now to brain mapping.

A brain scan which shows the connections between areas of the brain
Brain mapping is an area of neuroscience that seeks to understand how the brain works by seeing the areas of the brain which are active for different thoughts, feelings, and actions. We can use brain mapping to help us understand what happens we learn, and how we as teachers can make the most of this process for our students!
Brain scans, such as the one at the header of this section, shows the areas which are active for different tasks, thoughts, and emotions at the time of the scan. The image on the left is another example of brain mapping and shows the connections between brain areas. A basic understanding about how the brain works gives insight into how to learn and teach effectively.
 A simplified brain area diagram by Mike Bell is shown on the right. It shows some of the main areas of the brain as a map, looking from above. The visual area is at the back of the head, and the hearing area is on the left side. The motor cortex runs along the top of the head. This diagram helps us to see the different areas of the brain which are active for different types of thinking and learning.
Want to find out more? We have published an e-book available from Amazon Kindle. Click here to find out more.
Keep going onto the next page to find out how we’ve pulled together all this evidence to bring you our Six Steps to Outstanding Learning!
A simplified brain area diagram by Mike Bell