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How Does Knowledge of the Science of Learning Impact Teacher Practice?

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Participate and share : Poster
Poster presentation


Saturday, December 5, 12:30–1:30 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Dr. Angela Elkordy  
Translating findings of the learning sciences into actionable knowledge for practicing educators is challenging. Through document and artifact analysis, and interviews this study examines the impact of educator preparation framed by the science of learning. The project goal is to identify changes in teachers' conceptualization of learning and their practices.

Audience: Coaches, Teacher education/higher ed faculty, Principals/head teachers
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Topic: Science of learning
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
Learner
  • Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
For Education Leaders:
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
  • Ensure all students have skilled teachers who actively use technology to meet student learning needs.
Connected Learner
  • Set goals to remain current on emerging technologies for learning, innovations in pedagogy and advancements in the learning sciences.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Framework

Research publications from the National Research Council (How people learn, I & II), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and others describe learning as being most impactful when learners are able to individually construct their new knowledge upon existing knowledge frameworks. The course design not only teaches about learning sciences concepts, they are also implemented throughout the course. At the start of the course, teacher-learners construct concept maps around the focus question "What is Learning?" The visual representation of their current mental models allows for identifying misconceptions and providing evidence that dispels the misconception. When teachers' mental models of learning change, they encounter concepts such as learner variability, cognition and evidence-based practices, their conceptual models change. How does this manifest as changes in their teaching practices?

Methods

This qualitative study is exploratory, to investigate the relationships between teacher knowledge, beliefs and conceptual change in learning and applying principles from the science of learning. The data sources are teacher-learner created products from an online course ("Introduction to the Learning Sciences and Technology") designed and taught by the researcher. In addition to thematic analysis of the course artifacts, teacher-learners who completed the course were invited to volunteer for online focus groups conducted via the Zoom platform which was recorded. Transcripts were initially prepared using an online transcription service (Temi.com). The data was coded and analyzed for emergent themes.
In the focus groups, participants were asked 6 questions, including the following examples:
Focus Group Questions

1. What are the Learning Sciences?
2. How has your conceptualization of learning, learning design and the learning sciences changed as a result of your coursework? 3. What ideas have been most impactful for you? Why?
4. In what ways has knowledge of the science of learning impacted your teaching practice?
5. Explain your current thinking of the use of digital tools and technologies and the intersection of principles from the learning sciences.
6. What else would you like to add about your experiences?

Results

The teacher-learner artifacts have been collected and are currently being analyzed. It is anticipated that the focus group interviewing will be complete (first phase) by the end of October. Preliminary results indicate shifts in teacher practice as a result of new conceptualizations of how learning works. They also felt more confident in solving instructional problems of practice by modifying their previous practices to align with findings from the learning sciences. Teachers are also reporting better relationships with their own students as a result of their new knowledge of how learners vary in motivation, prior knowledge, and degree of competency in social-emotional skills.

Importance

This study is an important contribution to the knowledge base of teacher conceptualization and subsequent systematic use of instructional strategies derived from the findings of the learning sciences. It examines teachers' changing perceptions of learning and implementation of strategies from the rapidly developing science of learning. There are currently very few studies in this important area.

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