Put Down That Highlighter!
Important article by cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham, on the Scientific American website:
“Most teachers would agree that it is important that students remember much of what they read. Yet one of the most common sights on high school and college campuses across the land is that of students poring over textbooks, yellow marker in hand, highlighting pertinent passages—which often end up including most of the page. Later in the semester, to prepare for their exams, students hit the textbooks again, rereading the yellow blocks of text.
Studies have shown that highlighting and rereading text is among the least effective ways for students to remember the content of what they have read. A far better technique is for students to quiz themselves. In one study, students who read a text once and then tried to recall it on three occasions scored 50 percent higher on exams than students who read the text and then reread it three times. And yet many teachers persist in encouraging—or at least not discouraging—the techniques that science has proved to fall short.
This is just one symptom of a general failure to integrate scientific knowledge of the mind into schooling. Many commonly held ideas about education defy scientific principles of thinking and learning. For example, a common misconception is that teaching content is less important than teaching critical thinking skills or problem-solving strategies.
Scientists have also long known that kids must be explicitly taught the connections between letters and sounds and that they benefit most when such instruction is planned and explicit. Yet some reading programs, even those used in large school districts, teach this information only if an instructor sees the need.”
Willingham concludes, “Teachers need a trusted source to tell fads and fallacies from proved methods.” I’m working on it, Dan .
Read more here.