Science of Learning


Most students never have been formally taught how to learn. Furthermore, most course instructors, although experts in their particular fields, have also never been explicitly taught in the science of how learning works. Unfortunately, when it comes to learning, the study strategies that feel most effective are often the least effective. This means that a lot of students spend a lot of time studying in ways that feel like they should work - even though science tells us they don't.

Ready to be a more effective learner or teacher? Watch the videos below for an introduction to some of the most effective ways to study, as supported by the science of learning.

Please be aware that as you’re learning about and implementing best practices in teaching in your courses, it is also a best practice to provide accommodations for students who are eligible for them. This may require you to be flexible and creative in how you use any best practice for your courses. You have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations and you are responsible for preparing and offering those accommodations whether or not a student chooses to take advantage of them.

Video Resources: Practical Strategies from the "Science of Learning"

Each short video below provides a quick snippet from our book chapters of some ways to applyprinciples from the science of learning to your learning and teaching. See also suggestions for .

  • Science of Learning: Meet Anne Cleary
  • Why do we need a science of learning? (Chapters 1 & 2)
  • Metacognition (Chapter 4): Learn how our impressions during learning can lead us astray and some strategies for overcoming that.
  • Elaboration (Chapter 5): This video offers some simple strategies for how learners can expand on new material in ways that help memory and knowledge integration.
  • Imagery as tool for memorization (Chapter 6): This video offers some ways in which you can draw upon your ability to visualize things in your mind's eye to remember more information in a short amount of time.
  • Imagery as a tool for skill training (Chapter 6): This video offers some ways in which imagining performing actions can serve as instances of practice when trying to perfect a new skill.
  • Organization (Chapter 7): This video offers some simple organizational strategies for capitalizing on our mind's attunement to hierarchical structure to ease processing of complex information and better remember it.
  • Spacing (Chapter 8): This video offers some simple strategies for accomplishing more overall learning in less overall amount of time spent.
  • Testing (Chapter 9): Testing is your friend. This video offers some ways to implement the principle that being tested on information is more effective for learning than simply re-studying that information.
  • Cues can jog your memory (Chapter 10): This video offers some ways that learners can mentally generate cues to help them overcome forgetting later on.
  • Understanding (Chapter 11): This video offers some strategies for improving one's trajectory toward eventually arriving at an understanding, a moment of insight, or a creative solution to a problem.
  • Collaboration (Chapter 12): Collaboration has pros and cons. This video offers some strategies for maximizing the benefits of collaboration while minimizing the drawbacks.