Bringing Science To Education

Why do we still base the education of children on tradition and habit, or on unfounded and unproven theories? There’s another alternative: science, says Pooja Agarwal, a researcher at  Washington University in St. Louis. As she writes in the journal Education Psychology Review:

“Currently, we are witnesses to profound educational ‘experimentation,’ for example with charter schools, voucher programs, educational technology, new standards and assessments, revamped educator evaluations, and the growth modeling and analysis of student data. Year after year, decade after decade, we implement new initiatives for our nation’s education system, yet we often fail to obtain significant improvements.

In the current era of flexibility and experimentation, we have a golden opportunity as cognitive and educational scientists to take what we have learned over the course of at least 100 years about human learning and memory and apply it to the ‘real world’ of education.

Our research has drastic implications for education and by ‘giving our research away,’ we could add an element of scientific rigor to the discussion of education, encourage tougher standards for teacher training and professional development programs, increase understanding of and decision making based on student data (rather than simply ‘the more data, the better’), and ultimately move toward a higher quality education system for our nation.

In doing so, we may finally move away from a system in which educational practices are based on history and doctrine. Instead, I hope that someday, we will look to cognitive and educational research when we demand scientific rigor in education and seek evidence-based practices.” (Read more here.)

It can’t happen soon enough.

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