Everyone has a vested interest in education. With teachers, parents, administrators, taxpayers, politicians, employers, academics and students themselves all concerned about learning success, it is no surprise that the questions asked and answers proposed about which education practices are best differ widely.
Thankfully, teachers don’t have to rely solely on guesswork, tradition or ideology to inform their methods. That’s because researchers from the fields of psychology, education and learning sciences apply the tools of science to distinguish what works from what doesn’t.
I am a cognitive psychologist, which means that I use science to study mental processes. Cognitive psychologists interested in the science of learning take the basic building blocks of cognitive processes—how people perceive, learn, attend to and remember information—and build teaching and learning strategies that can be tested using the scientific method.
Research in my field is powerful for educators because it yields insight about what causes students to learn. That understanding allows teachers and administrators to apply evidence-based teaching and learning strategies flexibly in the classroom.