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How People Learn Bridging Research and Practice M. Suzanne Donovan, John D. Bransford, and James W. Pellegrino, editors Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, DC
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NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. The study was supported by Grant No. R215U980027 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-06536-4 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue N.W. Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055 Call 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area). This report is also available online at http://www.nap.edu Printed in the United States of America Copyright 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
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Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice JOHN D. BRANSFORD (Co-Chair), Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University JAMES W. PELLEGRINO (Co-Chair), Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University DAVID BERLINER, Department of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe MYRNA S. COONEY, Taft Middle School, Cedar Rapids, IA ARTHUR EISENKRAFT, Bedford Public Schools, Bedford, NY HERBERT P. GINSBURG, Department of Human Development, Teachers College, Columbia University PAUL D. GOREN, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago JOSÈ P. MESTRE, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst ANNEMARIE S. PALINCSAR, School of Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor ROY PEA, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA M. SUZANNE DONOVAN, Study Director WENDELL GRANT, Senior Project Assistant
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Acknowledgments The inspiration for this project was Alexandra Wigdor, director of the Division on Education, Labor, and Human Performance at the National Research Council (NRC). Her leadership in guiding the formation and work of the Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice was central to its success. The vision of focusing the efforts of the research community on classroom practice is that of C. Kent McGuire, assistant secretary for educational research and improvement at the U.S. Department of Education. Our point of departure for this project was the National Research Council report How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. We acknowledge the contribution of the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning who authored that report: John Bransford (co-chair), Ann Brown (co-chair), John Anderson, Rochel Gelman, Robert Glaser, William Greenough, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Barbara Means, Jose Mestre, Linda Nathan, Roy Pea, Penelope Peterson, Barbara Rogoff, Thomas Romberg, and Samuel Wineberg. Without their work, ours would not have been possible. Rodney Cocking, study director of that committee, provided support for this committee's efforts to carry that report one step further. Wendell Grant, the project assistant, worked long hours managing the logistics of the committee's meetings and events, and providing the administrative support for production of the report and its drafts. Christine McShane improved the document with her skilled editing. We also thank Carolyn Stalcup for design support and Sandra Yurchak for secretarial support. The committee held a conference in December 1998 to present How People Learn to an audience of educators, policy makers, and researchers and to elicit their feedback on the promise of, and obstacles to, bridging educational research and practice. The National Research Council and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) of the U.S. Department of Education cosponsored the conference, and the participation of
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Bruce Alberts, NRC chair, and C. Kent McGuire, assistant secretary for OERI, contributed to its success. Joseph Conaty and Luna Levinson of OERI assisted with conference planning. Karen Fuson, committee member Annemarie Palincsar, and Robert Bain demonstrated approaches to teaching that use the principles highlighted in this report. Members of the two panels provided insightful perspectives on the challenge of bridging research and classroom practice: on the panel providing teacher perspectives were: David Berliner, Deanna Burney, Janice Jackson, Jean Krusi, Lucy (Mahon) West, and Robert Morse. On the panel providing policy perspectives were: Ron Cowell, Louis Gomez, Paul Goren, Jack Jennings, Kerri Mazzoni, and Carol Stewart. The committee also held a workshop to focus more sharply on the research that would help construct the bridge between research and practice. The workshop was an intensive two-day effort to work in both large and small groups to cover each of the areas of research discussed in this report. We thank each of the participants who joined the committee in this effort: Amy Alvarado, Karen Bachofer, Robert Bain, Cathy Cerveny, Cathy Colglazier, Rodney Cocking, Ron Cowell, Jean Krusi, Luna Levinson, Robert Morse, Barbara Scott Nelson, Iris Rotberg, Leona Schauble, Carol Stewart, and Lucy West for their diligent efforts. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Dorothy Fowler, Lacey Instructional Center, Annandale, VA; Ramesh Gangolli, Department of Mathematics, University of Washington; Richard Lehrer, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Michael Martinez, Education Department, University of California, Irvine; K. Ann Renninger, Program in Education, Swarthmore College; Thomas A. Romberg, National Center for Research in Mathematical Sciences Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Patrick Suppes, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University.
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Although the individuals listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. JOHN BRANSDORD, CO-CHAIR JAMES PELLEGRINO, CO-CHAIR SUZANNE DONOVAN, STUDY DIRECTOR COMMITTEE ON LEARNING RESEARCH AND EDUCATION PRACTICE
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Contents Summary 1 1 Introduction 5 Framing the Agenda 6 Plan of the Report 9 2 Key Findings 10 Implications for Teaching 15 Bringing Order to Chaos 18 Designing Classroom Environments 19 Applying the Design Framework to Adult Learning 24 3 Responses From the Education and Policy Communities 25 Responses from the Education Community 25 Responses from the Policy Community 27 4 Proposing a Research and Development Agenda 30 Overarching Themes 32 Research and Development of Educational Materials 35 Research on Pre-service and In-service Education 45 Research on Education Policy 52 Public Opinion and the Media 57 Beyond How People Learn 58 Communicating Research Knowledge 62 Conclusion 63
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References 65 Appendix A: Meeting Participants 71 Appendix B: Biographical Sketches 74