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11. Next Steps for Research

        Research influences classroom practice directly when teachers and researchers work together to design experiments.  Otherwise, more indirectly and typically, research ideas are filtered through educational materials, teacher/administrator training, policy, and public beliefs.  Nevertheless, the link between research and practice has traditionally been weak.  Educators generally don't look to research for guidance, as they are faced with practical demands.  Furthermore, without a clear framework, operational theories are often unaligned between schools and parents.  Also, with few exceptions, the direction of research influencing practice is uni-directional, when it should be bi-directional.  Research should be use-driven, instead of overly theoretical. There are many different methods for doing such research.   
        There are 5 main themes that can help research be more useful for teaching.  
        1.  Understanding about how people learn must be articulated clearly, elaborated, and made useful for teachers. 
        2.  Communicate messages of research for audiences that influence education
        3.  Use theoretical frameworks that already exist to build upon what is already known
        4.  Conduct research collaboratively between researchers and practitioners
        5.  Continually develop the science of classroom practice


        There are three main goals regarding educational materials.  First, materials that already exist that meet principles of good learning must be identified.  Second, the knowledge base must be extended to include new techniques, assessments, etc.  Third, these need to be communicated to curriculum developers.  There are 7 project area recommendations that come from these goals.  

I.  Examine Existing Practice
        1.  Current curricula and instructional techniques must be reviewed, with careful attention paid to principles of learning.  The effectiveness of each should be reported, from many different perspectives.  This should include multimedia curricula.  Empirical research should show the distinctive achievement of each curricula or technique studied.  
II.  Develop and Test New Materials
        2.  Curriculum in areas that are currently weak should be developed.  These should include companion materials that include links to principles of learning, and should be field-tested and refined.  
        3.  Research formative assessment to formulate design principles, explore ways to give students genuine feedback, and explore new technologies that enable new opportunities.  Formative and summative assessments should be aligned as well.  
        4.  Develop and evaluate videotaped model lessons to clearly illustrate methodologies and principles of teaching/learning.  These should include annotated guides and should include multiple models of teaching.  These should also be field tested for effectiveness and be distributed widely.  
        5.  Research, in both small and large scale studies, different technologies as they apply to principles of learning. 

III.  Elaborate and Develop Key Research Findings
        6.  Research and elaborate key conceptual frameworks for each discipline
        7.  Identify common misconceptions in each subject area, links between prior knowledge and certain viewpoints, and progressive learning sequences that bridge naive and mature understandings of subject matter.  

IV.  Effective Communication of Learning Principles
        8.  An interactive communication site to evaluate curricula should be developed.  Curricula should go through extensive reviews that include multiple perspectives


        Three goals underlie these recommendations.  First, look at existing practices through lens of learning principles.  Second, to advance understanding that can facilitate better alignment between practice and theory.  Third, to make findings more understood.  There are 7 project areas.

V.  Examine Existing Practice
        9.  Teacher training programs must be aligned with the principles of learning, and as such, evaluation research must be conducted to determine current program structures and practices at schools of education.  
        10.  Review current PD programs to define common models of PD, review features of programs that do and don't support teacher learning, define teacher knowledge and performance, define measures of student achievement that should result, and estimate the quality and quantity of teacher training needed.  
        11.  Explore the efficacy of various types of professional development so that administrators can implement such programs.  

VI.  Elaborate and Develop Key Research Findings
        12.  Conduct research on the preconceptions of teachers regarding the process of learning and evaluate programs' effectiveness in changing the conceptions.  
         13.  Discipline specific research on the content and pedagogy should be studied to recommend how much of it teachers should have within each discipline.  

VII.  Communicate Principles of Learning to Teacher Education
        14.  Evaluate effecitveness of professional development activities that enable teachers' learning communities to develop.
        15.  Design pedagogical laboratories to help teachers experiment with different methods.  
        16.  Develop research-based tools, such as multimedia or internet, to communicate principles of learning


        Though the principles of learning described in this book imply far reaching changes, they don't give a blueprint for school change.  There is no question that a price tag is involved - as correcting student misconceptions can more easily be done in a small class, for example.  Nevertheless, teaching for understanding is a clear goal with several well-defined components.  There are 5 project areas recommended for change:

VIII.  State Standards and Assessments
        17.  Review state educational standards and assessment tools to measure compliance with learning principles
        18.  Research measures on student achievement that reflect learning principles and can be used for accountability purposes.  This partly includes rethinking educational testing.  
        19.  Review teacher certification programs, focusing on types of assessments, initial licensing, and advanced status.  Make sure programs are aligned with principles of learning.  

IX.  District-Level Policy
        20.  Study district-level policies to allow for optimal time of teachers outside of the classroom, appropriate teacher training, development of a professional community.

X.  Communicate Principles to Policy Makers
        21.  Research ways to influence policy makers regarding the goals of K-12 education and learning principles


          It is important to educate the public media as they don't read research literature, yet they do have a powerful influence on educational practices.  
        22.  Write popular versions of this volume for lay-people


        This volume presents a foundation for the science of learning, but more needs to be done to extend the foundation.  
        23.  More basic research should be invested into cognition, learning, and teaching.  More details are needed to advance the science by refining the principles.  
        24.  Establish new research programs in emerging areas like technology, soclocultural factors, etc.  
        25,  Conduct new assessment research to help teachers use assessment to support learning
        26.  Explore the foundation for the science of learning by asking critical questions, such as which factors influence the conversion of research knowledge into effective instructional methods
        27.  Advance methodologies of the learning sciences to include interdisciplinary investigations, internships, standardizing new measures, etc. 
        28.  Foster collaborations, such as through shared databases, between researchers and practitioners.  
        29.  Explore innovative classrooms and educational practice.  As these may challenge traditional cognitive theory is may force researchers to modify their conceptions about learning.  
        30.  Investigate potential benefits of collaborate learning  
        31.  Research how motivational factors (interests, identities, self-knowledge, self-regulation, and emotion) interact with cognitive competence.  
        32.  Research how organization and representation of knowledge, together with the purpose of the at knowledge, are unique in different circumstances.  This has application in curriculum design.  


        Communicating the research agenda is incredibly important and has thus been a theme throughout the recommendations.  However, the final section recommends specifically how to do it:
        33.  Design and evaluate ways to easily access the cumulative knowledge base - As there are various educational audiences, there is a need to facilitate the distribution of the information.  Internet-based forums are needed.  Although there are thousands of sites devoted to education, far fewer are devoted to research advances.  Such a "learning-improvement portal" would be a vital national resource aimed to improve education.  


        Research and practice must cooperate and mutually benefit from each other.  As such, the model of research and development is invoked.  The goal of communication is similarly invoked to correct misconceptions and build upon them.  These need systematic efforts to work effectively.  Finally, this work is expansive - meaning it needs to continually develop and include more and more information from other fields as they are made. 


The routine focuses first on identifying something interesting about an object or idea:

"I notice that..."

And then following that observation with the question:

"Why is it that way?"
"Why did it happen that way?"

I notice that  communication has a very important part of the policy recommendations. 

It is that way because if these principles just stay in this book, they will never teach people what they are trying to teach.  Knowing that learning must be built on prior knowledge, the authors realize that keeping research ideas in books is simply poor teaching.  Therefore, they emphasize the fact that the learning principles must be communicated and taught.