Good Interventions Do NOT Have to be Expensive

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Good Interventions Do NOT Have to be Expensive

A common misconception that we hear is that education and neuroscience are related disciplines and that those who study the brain must know how we learn. While one can inform the other, I promise that training in neuroscience does NOT include an understanding of how those brain processes translate into classroom practices. We often talk about a very necessary dialogue between educators and researchers, because very few individuals have extensive experience in both domains.

My first hesitation when reading this article came from the title. Why did they ask a behavioral geneticist for his opinions about an educational intervention? That’s not to say he couldn’t read that research and develop a decent understanding given his expertise in research design, but he comes to very strong conclusions about something I’m not sure he is fully trained in.

One of the things I appreciate so much about my colleagues here at the Learning Scientists is that we try to approach similar conversations with caution. You can ask us about how cognitive science applies to developmental disorders and we will tell you exactly what we know and admit that we are NOT experts in developmental disorders, so any conclusions we are making need further analysis.

Ok, this statement isn’t completely untrue, but there’s only one part of it that is a problem. That problem is his use of the word “everybody”. That’s correct, there’s no one solution that will work for every single learner every single time. The best interventions are flexible and adaptable, but there are processes that work for every learner. And they don’t have to be complicated (see Issue #3).

I would love to see any piece of research that backs up this claim, especially given that it is the opposite of our recommendations. Strategies that will improve education do not have to be these giant curriculum overhauls. (See Megan’s blog from last week for more on this.) Educators can use the same content that they have always used, but reinforce that encoding with retrieval practice (for free) and voila! Retention is improved… A good intervention that is both free and not terribly labor intensive.