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4.4 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0309070362
ISBN-10: 0309070368
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...this book provides all educators with an excellent framework for understanding conceptual changes in the science of learning..." -- Teaching and Learning in Medicine, Summer 2001

"How People Learn is an important book, which may, in time, become a classic.” -- Education, Communication and Information, Spring 2001

"The findings [in this book] are significant and should be discussed at the highest levels in educational practice." -- Network, April 2001

...exciting new research about the mind and the brain... -- Curriculum Administrator

About the Author

RODNEY R. COCKING was Program Director of Developmental and Learning Sciences in the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences at the National Science Foundation before his death in 2002.

John D. Bransford is Shauna C. Larson University Professor of Education and Psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle. Bransford is also coprincipal investigator and codirector of the LIFE Center, a National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center that studies learning in informal and formal environments.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: National Academies Press; Exp Sub edition (September 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0309070368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0309070362
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. L Sadler VINE VOICE on November 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a Deaf person and an educator, as well as having two degrees in Neuroscience, I found this book extremely helpful in elucidating what has been done in understanding how we learn. Perhaps even more important is the questions that the authors, contributors and editors raise concerning what more needs to be done, to adequately help all students reach their highest potential. The book is concise and knowledgeable without being needlessly wordy. It is written so that everybody can understand and make use of it to help educators and researchers to further their goals and those of their students. I've had this book less than six months and yet I've quoted it several times in papers, and refer to it constantly. Thanks to the editors for doing such a great job. Karen L. Sadler Science Education University of Pittsburgh
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Format: Hardcover
This summary of research in human learning and what this body of knowledge suggests should be the direction of education in the next 10 years makes this work a must read for any educational professional. We owe a debt of gratitude to the National Research Council for the depth and quality of this work. It is already being used by many educators in the Bay Area to guide teachers and school administrators in their efforts to provide an education that prepares our young people for the next century! This would make an outstanding resource for both working teachers and those studyiong education at the graduate level.
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Format: Paperback
The beauty of this volume is that it takes a vast quantity of research on how people learn and organizes it in a way which is readable, practical and accessible for educators. The authors distill the findings of numerous studies into three key principles of learning: (1) Teachers must work with student preconceptions and prior knowledge, (2) Teachers must teach in depth, providing multiple examples of the same concept and (3) Teachers must help students develop metacognitive skills so that they can take control of their own learning. These principles are developed and expanded with numerous references to research and practical illustrations. It should be noted that the book is predominantly about conceptual understanding and does not spend a lot of time on how we learn skills such as playing a musical instrument or learning a language. That said, it is an extremely important contribution to discussions of pedagogy and if the advice contained in the book is heeded by teachers, curriculum writers and policy makers, it has the potential to transform many shallow classroom practices into powerful tools that will enable students to develop deep understanding. The accelerating pace of change in the 21st century means that the ability to transfer skills to unfamiliar situations as well as the skills of lifelong learning have become more important than ever. The principles contained in this book will help us prepare students for a changing world.
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Format: Paperback
"How People Learn" is both a simple summary of some recent research in the cognitive sciences and an argument for how teaching should be done. This is currently a very popular topic in the educational industry, as educators look for justification in the cognitive literature for the rather ad-hoc educational theories of the past 40 or 50 years. Most of this volume is devoted to a fairly low-level- let's say High School level- review of selected literature form the cognitive and neuropsychological literature of the last few decades, and as far as it goes, it's not bad. It's spotty, certainly, and musch of it is very old, but the lay reader will still find much of it interesting and informative.
But the final chapter- Conclusions- is a tremendous disappointment, at least for this reader. Half the conclusions offered are so simple, and so obvious, as to be laughable. The other half are either contradictory or simply unjustified.
Consider this gem: "Transfer and wide application of learning are most likely to occur when learners acheive an organized and coherent understanding of the material; when the situations for transfer share the structure of the original learning; when subject matter has been mastered and practiced; when subject domains overlap and share cognitive elements; when instruction includes specific attention to underlying principles; and when instruction specifically emphasizes transfer."
Translated, that means that people can best use things they learn when they've learned them very well, that practice helps, and that it helps to learn something in a way similar to how you're going to use it.
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22 Comments 301 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
The review offered by Michael J Edelman is a good example of what happens when a person reads a book with an opinion already formed. Generally, that person finds what they need to confirm their opinion, whether it is actually there or not. Although this reviewer does have a point in that the analysis presented in the book is not exactly the stuff of a PhD thesis, or the research terribly modern in every case, it is inappropriate to concoct supposed "contradictions" from the book (that are not actually contradictions if you are willing to be a careful reader) and then use a gross simplification of the debate on reading to slam educational psychology while trumpeting those who have "spent time in the classroom" (i.e. teachers) as the only people who know anything about education. If the reviewer actually had experience in both situations, he would know that a great deal of research in educational psychology is in fact done in a classroom setting, in cooperation with teachers and administrators. My advice: if you are looking for an introduction to the cognitive aspects of teaching and learning, this book will work well for you. Otherwise, look elsewhere.
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