In the Media

In the media: As school starts, four keys to better learning

The News & Observer of Raleigh published a column by doctoral student Brian Cartiff and faculty member Jeff Greene in which they offer research-based tips for helping students learn.

The column, published on Saturday, Sept. 9, describes four key ways students can be more effective in learning. Cartiff is a doctoral student and Greene is an associate professor in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies strand of the School of Education’s Ph.D. program.

In the column, Cartiff and Greene describe four important findings from learning science that can help students learn:

  • Build growth mindsets. Students with growth mindsets realize that the human mind is a muscle, and the keys to gaining skills and understanding are hard work and practice. Parents and teachers can foster growth mindsets in children by praising their effort, emphasizing perseverance, and giving them honest, helpful feedback, rather than praising their grades and natural abilities.
  • Forget learning styles. Years of rigorous research have produced no support of the idea that students have varying “learning styles.” We all learn best when we are presented with information in multiple ways: visually, verbally, by working with materials or ideas ourselves, etc., Cartiff and Greene wrote.
  • Use “distributed practice.” Don’t cram. Long-term learning results from frequent, shorter practice sessions spaced out over time.
  • Use “self-testing.” This can involve trying to recall the major details of what was just read in a book, or answering summary questions after reading a chapter. Students can also predict questions they think will be on an exam and then try to answer them.