William A. McEachern on effective teaching

William A. McEachern:

Finding # 1: Students are much more likely to recall information that relates somehow to what they already know or have experienced…

Finding # 2: The key to long-term learning is practicing retrieval. Many experiments have found that learning improves when students actively retrieve information from memory rather than passively reread class notes or textbooks…

Finding # 3: Raise key ideas again and again over time. Retrieval and testing sessions that are spaced out over time are effective for long-term retention and transfer… Teachers should align their presentations, assignments, and tests so that key ideas are recalled frequently throughout the term. And students should space their retrieval sessions over time.

Finding # 4: “Desirable difficulties” foster engagement, which helps students learnDesirable difficulties are challenges introduced during instruction that seem to benefit long-term learning, challenges such as presenting material in different contexts and in different formats. Desirable difficulties may seem to slow the apparent rate of learning in the short run, but they boost long-term retention and transfer…

Myths# 1: The mind works like a memory machine… Instead, new information enters long-term memory only if linked to what’s already known, then retrieved repeatedly over time.

Myth# 2: Testing is not learning but is a mere yardstick to measure how much has been learned… Tests, however, are forced retrieval, and this helps students learn and remember… Frequent, low-stakes, classroom quizzes may be one of the best ways you can help students learn new material.

Myth# 3: Learning depends on a student’s learning stylethere is no evidence that customizing instruction to match a student’s preferred learning style leads to better achievement…

Myth # 4: Your classroom presentation determines how much students learn. What you do in class matters less than what you ask and expect students to do in your course… Remember, it’s less what you teach and more what students do for themselves to learn.