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85-436 Scientific Research in Education
Most of what we know about thinking, learning, memory, concept formation, problem solving, and so on, comes from laboratory experiments by researchers in cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and cognitive development. But how can this knowledge be used to improve teaching and learning in real classrooms? That is the question that we will explore in this advanced undergraduate and graduate seminar. We will read and critically review papers dealing with the creation, implementation, and evaluation of new approaches to instruction instruction. We will examine a variety of such interventions, ranging from specific topics to entire curricula. This topic is especially timely, because of the highly influential (and controversial) "No Child Left Behind Act" (NCLB), passed in 2002. Perhaps the most widely-known consequence of the law is its emphasis on testing and assessment, which has wide-spread implications for the way that American children will be taught and tested and the way that schools will be evaluated and rewarded. Equally important, but perhaps less widely-known outside academic circles, is NCLB's repeated emphasis on scientifically based education research. This new pressure for evidence-based policy and practice in education has brought a sense of urgency to understanding the ways in which the basic tenets of science can be applied to educational research. This seminar will address the fundamental question: What does it mean to do scientific research in education? by reviewing some of the recent educationally-relevant research on how students learn, primarily, but not exclusively, in the areas of math and science.
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