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How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School
able to identify the computer-based programs that can enhance classroom teaching or class assignments. Research should be done to:
Identify technology programs or computer-based curricula that are aligned with the principles of learning for understanding. The programs identified should go beyond those that are add-ons of factual information or that simply provide information in an entertaining fashion. The investigation should explore how the programs can be used as a tool to support knowledge building in the unit being studied, and how they can further enhance the development of understanding of key concepts in the unit. The study should also explore the adequacy of opportunities for learning about the programs and for ongoing support in using the programs in a classroom setting.
Evaluate the aligned programs as teaching/learning tools by conducting empirical research on their distinctive contribution to achievement and other desired outcomes.
Investigate computer programs that appear to be effective teaching devices but do not clearly align with the principles of learning. These might suggest productive areas for further study.
Extend the Knowledge Base by Developing and Testing New Educational Materials
2. In areas in which curriculum development has been weak, design and evaluate new curricula, with companion assessment tools, that teach and measure deep understanding. As an extension of project area 1 above, or in some cases as a substitute, the development and evaluation of new curriculum and assessment materials that reflect the principles of learning outlined herein should be undertaken. Again, the development should be done by teams of disciplinary experts, cognitive scientists, curriculum developers, and expert teachers. Ideally, research in this category will begin with existing curricula and modify them to better reflect key principles of learning. In some cases, however, exemplary curricula for particular kinds of subject matter may not exist, so the teams will need to create them. This research and development might be coordinated with the ongoing efforts of the National Science Foundation to ensure complementary rather than duplicative efforts.
The curricula should be designed to support learning for understanding. They will presumably emphasize depth over breadth. The designs should engage students’ initial understanding, promote construction of a foundation of factual knowledge in the context of a general conceptual framework, and encourage the development of metacognitive skills.