Describe one of the myths about learning discussed by the authors that has shown to be false by research and how you either teach in a contrary manner or plan to in your teaching.

Pick one of the four outstanding teaching strategies given in this article and indicate how you will use it to enhance your teaching efficacy.
Describe an excuse that educators may use to avoid teaching based on research findings and provide a strong counter argument.

8 Kappan December 2018/January 2019

What We’ve learned about learning

Photo: iStock

POOJA K. AGARWAL ( is an assistant professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt
University in Nashville, and founder of, a hub of resources for teachers based on the science of learning. Her upcoming book,

coauthored with Patrice M. Bain, a veteran K-12 teacher, is Powerful Teaching, Unleash the Science of Learning (Jossey-Bass, Spring 2019). HENRY L.
ROEDIGER, III ( is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. His most recent
book, coauthored with Peter Brown and Mark McDaniel, is Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (Harvard University Press, 2014).

Because learning is an incredibly complex behavior, the
science of learning includes many topics: how we learn and
remember information in school, how we learn from the
environment around us, how our actions influence what we
remember, and so on. With this in mind, it’s useful to think
of learning science as an umbrella term that spans many
research fields including psychology, computer science, and
neuroscience. Our own research sits in the field of cognitive
science or, more specifically, cognitive psychology. The
word cognition comes from the Latin word for “to know,”
and cognition refers to “behind-the-scenes” behaviors like
perceiving, attending, remembering, thinking, and decision

making. In cognitive psychology, we typically examine men-
tal operations, or behaviors occurring inside our heads.

Cognitive psychology examines processes we engage in
every day without stopping to reflect on the complex series
of behaviors that determine our success or failure. For exam-
ple, have you ever talked on a cell phone while driving a car?
Many complex cognitive operations are involved in both of
these activities (and there’s plenty of research demonstrating
it’s dangerous to attempt both at once!). Another example:
You meet someone at a party and later you remember details
about your new friend — where they live, where they work,
and so on — but you struggle to remember their name.

Lessons for learning:

How cognitive psychology informs
classroom practice
Laboratory science and classroom observation reveal four simple strategies that can
promote learning.

By Pooja K. Agarwal and Henry L. Roediger, III

V100 N4 9

learning than they did in previous generations, and while
scientific evidence has dismissed many old myths, other
myths (such as the myth that children have specific learn-
ing styles) will likely remain in circulation for a while yet
(Willingham, 2018). But although we still have a long way
to go when it comes to ensuring that educators understand
scientific fin

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