There are a number of situations that can disrupt learning such as a fire drill or such intangible factors as the time of day or even the time of year — and Temple University wants to develop workarounds so future educators can maximize the class experience.
“Teachers have to be consistently on their feet, making decisions on how best to get their information across to children in their class,” said College of Education’s Associate Dean Julie Booth.
The College of Education is working on a top-down approach that would help teachers respond more effectively when classroom interruptions inevitably occur. A pilot test is being conducted using undergraduate students who aspire to be teachers.
Currently, education majors learn about how the human mind works, known as cognitive science, but it differs from methodology, which focuses on best teaching strategies.
The idea is to infuse the two areas of learning so college students preparing for careers in education learn earlier how to merge the science with their style and manner of teaching.
The education school’s leadership is also looking to expand to graduate level courses, for students on track to earn master’s and doctoral degrees.
“We want to be able to give them the tool-kit that will help them use all these instructional techniques they’re learning. We want them to make decisions based on that understanding,” Booth said.
A change in course content and how it is taught by faculty would help teachers respond to distractions and needs of individual students, and teach the allotted material on schedule.
The effort is being guided by College of Education Dean Gregory Anderson, a member of a working group of 24 academic deans who began focusing on the science of learning about a year ago. The “Dean for Impacts” operates as an academic think-tank that is taking a hard look at how students learn with the intent of pushing teachers toward more intuitive decision making.
A website for the national nonprofit described the initiative as grounded in science for “building off many efforts that came before it and reflecting the general consensus of the scientific community.
“The Science of Learning is intended to serve as a resource to teacher-educators, new teachers, or anyone in the education profession who is interested in the best scientific understanding of how learning takes place,” it added.
The goal is to help teachers think about how best to teach the scheduled material, Booth said.
Teachers should also take into consideration things that would affect how material is taught, from a student’s age, background knowledge needed to understand the lesson, how much information can be absorbed at once and teaching methods that would help students best recall the material.