LbSD podcast, episode four: Empowering educators and elevating the teaching profession
Learning by Scientific Design is a podcast series by Deans for Impact that explores how an understanding of cognitive science, or the science of how students learn, can lead to more rigorous, equitable and inclusive teaching.
How can the growing adoption of learning science in teacher preparation contribute to systemic change in U.S. education? In this episode, you’ll hear from:
- Louise Vose, Adjunct Professor, School of Education, Endicott College
- Peter Fishman, Vice President of Strategy, Deans for Impact
- Leah Brown, Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Louise Vose, an adjunct professor at Endicott College in Massachusetts, says that she used to identify strong instructional practices based on instinct from years of teaching experience.
Then, after participating in DFI’s Learning by Scientific Design network, she found it easier to explain to future teachers why certain practices were effective.
“Putting names to [a practice] and being able to identify it became more useful as an observer,” she says. These are “practices that made teachers drill down deeper with students, beyond just the presentation of information.”
This is something that DFI staff hear from teacher-educators and future teachers consistently: that an understanding of learning science honors and elevates the complex craft of teaching.
In addition to providing the language to discern strong teaching practices from less effective ones, an understanding of learning science also helps teachers to plan lessons that ensure students master grade-level content. Leah Brown of the University of Alaska Fairbanks notes the change she’s seeing in teacher-candidates: “Now they talk about being able to grab something off the internet, look at it with a critical eye, and say, ‘Is this aligned to what I want them to know?’ And if it’s not, they’re starting to understand how to change it so that it is.”
Given the millions of students who experienced disrupted learning as a result of the pandemic, “it’s going to take educators who deeply understand how students learn” to truly support each and every child, says Peter Fishman, vice president of strategy at DFI.
He points out that learning science isn’t meant to be a silver bullet or a “flavor of the month” to address the pandemic-related or systemic challenges in education. Instead, understanding cognitive science should be a teacher’s foundation.
“A deep understanding of learning science can change the mindset of teachers about what kids are capable of,” explains Fishman. “And it can shift educators out of a potential deficit mindset and into an asset mindset where you see every child, every student, every young person as capable and worthy.”
That is the future that we envision at DFI: one where every child has a well-prepared teacher.