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Science Of Learning | Tata Studi

Author | March 20, 2021

Neuroscientists are constantly peering into our brains. Fascinated by this organ, they discover something new and baffling almost every day, counter long-held ideas and reinforce the ones that have stood the test of time. In the process, the field of learning has had one of the biggest breakthroughs. Century-old learning theories are now being reexamined in the light of new evidence emerging from the science of learning – an integrative approach that examines how people grasp new concepts and retain them. After all, learning is linked to memory, comprehension and reasoning.

Dr John T. Bruer, president of the James S. McDonnell Foundation, admits, “Educational neuroscience is a relatively new and highly interdisciplinary research front. Its objective is to improve educational practice by applying findings from brain research. Other research fields in education, psychology, and neuroscience are also attempting to improve teaching and learning through applications of their work.”

One of the most significant contributions that cognitive science has made to the field of learning is in identifying best practices that aid learners in the long-term retention of concepts. Hermann Ebbinghaus’ memory experiments conducted almost a century ago found that if you repeat what you learned over time instead of massing them in one go, you are likely to retain concepts much better.

Studi with Tata ClassEdge is designed based on the principles drawn from the science of learning and is aimed at inculcating better learning habits among students

For one, it encourages students to set a goal for themselves – which it does with the help of an “Adaptive Studi Planner”. With a target in place, Studi then offers each student a unique day-wise plan to enable them to achieve their learning goals.

While creating a plan, Studi keeps in mind the brain’s likeness to any muscle in the body; it can handle only a certain amount of exercise at a time. Studi, therefore, organizes the syllabus in such a way that it helps students avoid cramming a large portion shortly before an exam.

With a clear target in place, Studi moves on to introduce the learner to a chapter, through its Big Idea. As Dr John Medina says in Brain Rules, “If you want people to be able to pay attention, don’t start with details. Start with the key ideas and, in a hierarchical fashion, form the details around these larger notions. Meaning before details.” This is exactly the purpose that Big Idea serves – it informs students through an engaging short video what the chapter is all about and how it matters. It sets the context for the chapter and helps students ease into understanding the concepts in detail.

After introducing the chapter, Studi presents the learning content in an organized manner. When it comes to studying, students often resort to passive reading and rereading that leaves little space to recall the main ideas. This is what Studi sets out to change! It keeps the student engaged using short videos furnished with embedded quizzes while breaking learning down into bite-sized chunks. The videos do not exceed the seven-minute mark to avoid straining a learner’s attention. Each video addresses a specific Teaching Question (TQ) within each Teaching Point (TP) in the chapter.

Another remarkable practice taken from the science of learning and applied by Studi is interleaving – a process where a learner moves from one set of problems or one subject to another. Interleaving problems and subjects allow the brain to differentiate between concepts, link one concept to another and improve memory associations.

Studi makes use of spaced practice, where your practice exercises are spaced over time to build better retention. When attempting a test immediately after learning a topic, students might score well since they are likely to recall what they just learned. However, it is a poor predictor for deeper conceptual understanding. So here is what Studi does:
1. Use questions to help students recall concepts at the end of every Teaching Question (equivalent to a sub-topic).
2. Provide a practice exercise at the end of every Teaching Point (equivalent to a topic).
3. Repeat the practice exercise for each topic a week later.
4. Have an assessment at the end of every chapter.

Studi emphasizes the need and importance of testing a learner throughout the process of learning. Tests require the student to recall the learnt material from memory. It is this retrieval practice effect, according to Henry L. Roediger III, a psychology professor at Washington University, that leads to better learning and places information securely in memory. In his article How Tests Make Us Smarter that appeared in The New York Times, he says, “… retrieving knowledge from memory is more beneficial when practice sessions are spaced out so that some forgetting occurs before you try to retrieve again. The added effort required to recall the information makes learning stronger.”

The progress that a student makes or the difficulties they encounter are captured by Studi using a Progress Tracker. This feature, which can be viewed both by parents and students works to boost students’ confidence in areas where they have shown progress over time and also enable them to identify aspects where they need more work.

In employing an array of such principles derived from the science of learning, Studi paves the way for building metacognitive skills in students – that is, to enhance their ability to create a learning strategy and modify it as one progresses. And a student who acquires strong metacognitive skills is likely to be an efficient lifelong learner – what every person ought to be to stay relevant in an ever-changing world.