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How Young People Learn - Empty or Not?

As researchers continue to study ‘the science of learning’, students come to class with preconceived notions as to how the world they live in works (Bransford, et.al. p15). This is atypical of the concept that children’s brains are empty ‘sponges’ and that a teacher’s role is to ‘fill’ the sponge with knowledge by direct instruction - i.e.traditional sit [silent] and get [verbal from the teacher] model.

This reflects the necessity of a paradigm shift for today’s teachers, especially veterans who may be more comfortable with the belief that students in class should be silent (not actively participating) in their learning except for the action of taking notes.

Another important discovery component revolves around engagement.  If a student is not initially engaged, new information will not be gained inside the classroom or assimilated outside the classroom setting. This is important to understand if educators expect to quantifiably rasie student achievement.
Developmental researchers have shown how people learn, including specific student actions when experiencing effective teaching strategies. For example, higher quality teaching is representative of first, eliciting a student’s preconceived beliefs and then goes further to either provide an oportunity to build upon it or even challenge it.  Effective teaching results in higher quality learning.
Reigeluth, C & Carr-Chellam, A. (2009) Instructional-Design Theories and Models. New York: Rutledge
Bransford, J. et. al. (2000) How People Learn, expanded edition. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press