A Scientific Approach to Education Reform | MIT J-WEL

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A Scientific Approach to Education Reform

MIT Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma recently published a new book, Grasp, which shares perspective on how digital technologies and new research in brain and cognitive science are transforming education at MIT and around the world. As described in the MIT News article announcing the publication:
 

Much of Sarma’s book, which is subtitled “The science transforming how we learn,” is based on recent research using tools such as magnetic resonance imaging to study what takes place in the brain during the learning process. One key lesson, he says, is the importance of circling back to a topic multiple times, and of integrating different parts of a lesson with each other.

Traditionally, classes have often involved teaching a concept, giving an exam, and moving on, he says. But long-term learning is greatly reinforced if that concept is also reintroduced alongside the next one being taught, and if some exercises involve how the two concepts can interact. “If you’re teaching two or three concepts in succession, integrate across them. Give problems along the way that mix them up. It causes them to reload the thinking required for that first problem. It’s in the reloading where the learning occurs,” Sarma says.

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