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Learning science and the teachable moment: The importance of the interactions between factors that affect learning

Written by: Stephen L Chew
10 min read
Learning science research aims to replace untested assumptions and intuitions about how people learn with empirically supported principles. However, many learning principles that work in the controlled context of the lab fail to translate directly to the classroom. They may not work in the classroom context or, more likely, they may work under some conditions but not in others; for example, Karpicke et al. (Karpicke et al., 2009) found that retrieval-based learning, which has strong empirical support from controlled studies with college students, was not effective for elementary school students tested in school settings. Because learning science generally studies only one or two factors in isolation, the emphasis is also on main effects or relatively simple interactions rather than complex interactions. For example, much research is based on the assumption that the primary goal of teaching is to have students learn and retain information for a long period of time, so it focuses on effe

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