PhD student Paul Bruno publishes article in “Edutopia” on Science of Learning
Deans for Impact report also the focus of recent panel event at National Press Club
By Katherine Mechling and Matthew C. Stevens
“Unfortunately,” Bruno writes, “our education system is rife with misconceptions and confusion about learning.” In “How People Learn: An Evidence-Based Approach,” he aims to clear up those myths by providing teachers with both research-backed descriptions of how students learn and suggestions for how to best tap into those cognitive processes in the classroom.
“We believe the art of teaching should also be informed by a robust understanding of the learning sciences so that teachers can align their decisions with our profession’s best understanding of how students learn.”
This piece synthesizes information from the recent publication by Deans for Impact (DFI) that Bruno co-authored, “The Science of Learning,” a comprehensive review of the cognitive principles that explain how students learn. The conceptually rigorous document was created to serve as an extensive practical guide for teacher educators. Deans for Impact, whose 24 members include USC Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher, is a nonprofit organization committed to improving student-learning outcomes by stewarding the transformation of educator preparation.
“Teachers will always need to use their knowledge of students and content to make professional judgments about classroom practice,” Bruno explains. “However, we believe the art of teaching should also be informed by a robust understanding of the learning sciences so that teachers can align their decisions with our profession’s best understanding of how students learn.”
The report took center stage on October 6 at the National Press Club at a panel event on “The Science of Learning.’ Hosted by journalist Annie Murphy Paul, author of the forthcoming Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter, it featured Benjamin Riley, executive director of Deans for Impact, and Daniel Willingham, cognitive scientist and professor of psychology at University of Virginia. Willingham is also co-author, with Bruno, of “The Science of Learning.”
“It can only be viewed as a great good thing that two dozen deans of education schools have come together under the banner of ‘Deans for Impact’ and committed themselves to a common set of principles, including data-driven improvement, common outcome measures, empirical validation of teacher preparation methods, and accountability for student learning,” wrote Robert Pondiscio and Kate Stringer, on the website of the Fordham Institute, reporting on the National Press Club event. “They’re also persuading other teacher preparation programs to do the same.”
Pondiscio and Stringer laud the new effort by deans but write that in order to succeed, they need to convince faculty to become “professors of impact.”
Faculty at USC Rossier have long been demonstrating just such a commitment.
John Pascarella is associate professor of clinical education at Rossier and chair of the MAT program. He cites the school’s use of video as one of many ways Rossier is constantly improving its teacher-training methods.
Says Pascarella: “When an MAT graduate shows up for a job interview with the instructional analysis skills they’ve gained through experiencing the ‘reflective cycle of effective teaching’ in our program and can show actual video-based evidence of how they go about managing a classroom, developing and using instructional strategies and communicating and collaborating with all stakeholders, they are arguably better prepared to enter the field with the skills for continual analysis, reflection and improvement of their practice during their first five years of teaching.”