core issues of the field. Basic researchers often have poor understanding of why learners fail to grasp basic concepts of the field; teachers often fail to see relationships of core concepts that, if better understood from the standpoint of theory, could facilitate their teaching. National databases can foster interdisciplinary collaboration and uses of cross-disciplinary data; promote broader exploration of testable questions across datasets; increase the quality of data by maintaining accurate and uniform records; and promote cost-effectiveness through the sharing of research data. Furthermore, national databases that are built from representative samples of the changing school population have the potential of broadening the scope and power of research findings.
29. Investigate successful and creative educational practice. There are well-known cases of exceptional teaching by educators who, often without the help of educational researchers, have created innovative and successful classrooms, programs, curricula, and teaching techniques. It is recommended that case study research be conducted to investigate the principles of learning that underlie successful educational experiments. The conceptual framework provided by this volume can be employed as a lens through which that practice can be viewed, and such case studies could challenge and inform the science of learning.
The research would have several potential benefits. It would ground in sound theory innovations that often exist in isolation, that often cannot be evaluated well by traditional methods, and that cannot be explained well to others. This research could contribute an understanding of why the innovations work, perhaps leading to improvements in them. Moreover, it may stimulate researchers to pursue new theoretical questions regarding cognition. In innovative classrooms, students may engage in forms and levels of learning that are not anticipated by current cognitive theory. From studying such classrooms and the learning that takes place in them, researchers may modify their conceptions about learning.
30. Investigate the potential benefits of collaborative learning in the classroom and the design challenges that it imposes. Outside the classroom, much learning and problem solving takes place as individuals engage with each other, inquire of those with skills and expertise, and use resources and tools that are available in the surrounding environment. The benefits of this “distributed cognition” are tapped inside the classroom when students work collaboratively on problems or projects, learning from each others’ insights, and clarifying their own thinking through articulation and argument (Vye et al., 1998). Some research indicates that group problem solving is superior to individual problem solving (e.g., Evans, 1989; Newstead and Evans, 1995), and that developmental changes in cognition can be gen-