Faculty Development & Learning Assessment

Cognitive Science/Learning Science Research


The more we know about cognitive science, the more we can adapt teaching to meet the needs of students.

Perhaps the most influential recent work in this area is the 2000 book, How people learn: Brain, mind experience and school by Bransford, et al. Most people can only hold about seven “bits” of memory in short term memory (the kind we use when an operator tells us a phone number and we need to use this information immediately to make a call). If we add more information to this memory, as is often the case in very dense lectures, virtually all information is lost. We also know that even highly motivated students can pay attention to technical material for ONLY 10-20 minutes. This suggests that we break lectures and other presentations into manageable amounts of information frequently inserting active and cooperative strategies into an otherwise passive mode of processing/storing information.

Adapted from: Cooper, J.L. (2006). A Baker’s Dozen Ideas to Foster Engagement. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from Tomorrow’s Professor Web site: http://ctl.stanford.edu/Tomprof/postings/796.html

Tip References

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.). (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.