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About this site

About this site. Hello, I am Bill Cerbin, author of the Exploring How Students Learn website. The purpose of this site is to help teachers better understand how students learn, and to use that knowledge to inform their teaching. Whenever we read student papers, grade exams or listen to student discussions, we become acutely aware of gaps in their learning. Sometimes the problem has an obvious cause--students did not study enough. But more often than not, the causes are not obvious. Instructors and students do their best and yet learning gaps still exist. If we want to improve student learning, we need to probe the reasons why students stumble, why some concepts are difficult, how misconceptions form and interfere with new learning, and more. In my view there are two ways we can approach learning about learning. One is to look for answers in existing research where there are plenty of useful findings relevant to our teaching. Unfortunately, research on learning is not written with practitioners in mind. To outsiders, it can be arcane and impenetrable. So, one thing I include on this site are translations of research findings intended for a college teaching audience--especially research that can be used to inform teaching decisions. The second approach is to investigate learning in your own classes by doing informal or formal classroom inquiry. This is the only viable option when there is no previous research on your specific problem. An increasing number of college teachers are engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning as a way to better understand how students learn. Some of the material on this site focuses on ways to do classroom inquiry so that teachers can explore the kinds of student learning problems that make a difference in their classes.

About me. I am professor of psychology and director of the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. In a lengthy career, I have taught a wide variety of psychology courses, and worked with hundreds of college teachers on improvement of teaching and learning. Through the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning I conduct workshops and projects with a strong emphasis on student learning and thinking. Many topics on this site originated as workshop and seminar presentations for teachers. I also direct the Lesson Study Project which trains and supports college teachers to engage in lesson study practices to improve teaching and learning. Lesson study is an ideal way for teachers to explore the basis of student learning in their own classes. If you are not familiar with lesson study, please visit the project website and also see my book, Lesson Study: Using Classroom Inquiry to Improve Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Contact information:
Bill Cerbin, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Center for Advancing Teaching & Learning
184 Wing Technology Center
La Crosse, WI 54601