A recommended summer read: How People Learn


As a scientist, when I teach I want to know that what I’m doing in class is effective.

To know that something is effective, we ideally need data that demonstrate understand how people learn. Then we can then tailor our approaches to fit these data.

The problem is that there is a massive literature about human learning in educational settings, and I have enough trouble keeping up with the literature in my own field, much less the educational literature.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was just a comprehensive but easy to understand meta-analysis and interpretation of everything we know about human learning?

It turns out, there is. It’s called How People Learn. It’s so good, I’ve received two free copies on separate occasions, in science education professional development events.

This book was brought to you by the U.S. National Academies Press, back in 2000. It’s about as information-packed and useful as you might imagine. Follow this link and you can download the free pdf, read it online, or order a new bound copy if you’re inclined. You can get a used copy from resellers for less than ten bucks, including shipping.

Yeah, it’s more than ten years old. A lot of current movements in science education have been shaped by what’s in this book.

By the way, if you’re looking for an amazing non-science recreational read, then look no further than Mike Dash’s Batavia’s Graveyard (h/t @Rob Dunn who shared this book with me a long while ago). Be warned, it’ll be hard to put down once you get a few chapters in.

If you have any other recommended reading for the summer, fun and otherwise, feel free to add a comment.

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