Principles from Psychology for T&L via David Didau

Top 20 principles from psychology for teaching & learning

shutterstock_113744989The Coalition for Psychology for Schools and Education haves released a new report detailing what, in their opinion, are the most important and useful psychological principles teachers ought to be aware of.

They break these principles in five areas:

How Do Students Think and Learn?

1. Students’ beliefs or perceptions about intelligence and ability affect their cognitive functioning and learning.

2. What students already know affects their learning.

3. Students’ cognitive development and learning are not limited by general stages of development.

4. Learning is based on context, so generalizing learning to new contexts is not spontaneous but instead needs to be facilitated.

5. Acquiring long-term knowledge and skill is largely dependent on practice.

6. Clear, explanatory, and timely feedback to students is important for learning.

7. Students’ self-regulation assists learning, and self-regulatory skills can be taught.

8. Student creativity can be fostered.

What Motivates Students?

9. Students tend to enjoy learning and perform better when they are more intrinsically than extrinsically motivated to achieve.

10. Students persist in the face of challenging tasks and process information more deeply when they adopt mastery goals rather than performance goals.

11. Teachers’ expectations about their students affect students’ opportunities to learn, their motivation, and their learning outcomes.

12. Setting goals that are short term (proximal), specific, and moderately challenging enhances motivation more than establishing goals that are long term (distal), general, and overly challenging.

Why Are Social Context, Interpersonal Relationships, and Emotional Well-Being Important to Student Learning?

13. Learning is situated within multiple social contexts.

14. Interpersonal relationships and communication are critical to both the teaching– learning process and the social-emotional development of students.

15. Emotional well-being influences educational performance, learning, and development.

How Can the Classroom Best Be Managed?

16. Expectations for classroom conduct and social interaction are learned and can be taught using proven principles of behavior and effective classroom instruction.

17. Effective classroom management is based on (a) setting and communicating high expectations, (b) consistently nurturing positive relationships, and (c) providing a high level of student support.

How to Assess Student Progress?

18. Formative and summative assessments are both important and useful but require different approaches and interpretations.

19. Students’ skills, knowledge, and abilities are best measured with assessment processes grounded in psychological science with well-defined standards for quality and fairness.

20. Making sense of assessment data depends on clear, appropriate, and fair interpretation.

Some of this is surprising, some dubious, but most is in danger of falling into the ‘How Obvious‘ camp. Before embracing or dismissing any of these principles do please read the report, then read Greg Ashman’s post, I do that already.


Nicky Morgan vs The Bell Curve.

A bit political but sums up the coasting school issue nicely!


Screen shot 2015-06-30 at 22.22.42 Dear Nicky, let me introduce you to the bell curve.

Dear Nicky…

I’ve just read this:

In there it says this:

Schools eligible for intervention will be those which fall below a new ‘coasting’ level for 3 years.  In 2014 and 2015 that level will be set at 60% of pupils achieving 5 good GCSEs or an above-average proportion of pupils making acceptable progress.

I am now worried that you haven’t been briefed about the word ‘average’ or the new (laudable) determination by OfQual to ensure GCSE grade inflation is halted. The thing is this: by definition there are only a limited number of places on the bell-curve that can be called ‘Good GCSEs’.  You’ve decided to give a pejorative label (implicitly ‘Bad GCSEs’) to about 50% of all grades.  Now, instead of Grades 1-4 at GCSE representing any sort of achievement, they’ve been killed stone dead. Nice work…

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