Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Bruer, J. T. (1993). Schools for thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bruer holds that we must apply what we have learned from cognitive research to improve teaching and learning in schools. He suggests that an applied science of learning is needed and explains the break from behaviorism that began in 1956 with Chomsky's work on language. From that point through the early 1980's, the field has been influenced by information science, the theory of computation, and studies of problem-solving by novices and experts. The result has been a theory of learning as a developmental psychology of performance changes. Bruer explores the notion of representations, the symbol structures we construct to encode our experience, process it, and store it in our memories. He presents an extensive amount of background on the research about such concepts as prior knowledge, problem solving, and transfer. Bruer looks at specific educational practices in mathematics, science, and reading and writing. These sections are extensive, provide numerous examples, and give an overview of the use of cognitive science in each domain. Bruer also discusses educational reform. He suggests that we consider teaching as a form of problem solving, that we look at teaching as an art, and that we change our representations of intelligence, learning, and teaching so we can change the interactions between students and teachers in the classroom.

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