The need for a theory of learning (opinion)

Inside Higher Ed: Few professions are “revolutionized” with such frequency as teaching -- and with such minimal impact on actual practices. As veteran teachers, we’ve seen many teaching practices and technological advances that promise to transform (or disrupt) education, including programmed instruction, clicker questions, discovery learning and on and on. They follow a similar pattern: initial excitement with reports of strikingly positive results, followed by the growth of doubts and negative results, leading to a mixed picture of success and failure, and then descending into inconsequentiality or practice by only a limited number of adherents.

Are we being cynical? If we were to synthesize current trends in pedagogy, we would conclude that the best teaching practice is: high impact, student centered, engaging, hands-on, just-in-time, technology enhanced, flipped, blended, hybrid, transformational, cooperative, collaborative, reflective, authentic, situated, guided, integrative, supplemental, reciprocal, gamified, experiential, adaptive, disruptive and active. It is also brain based, peer based, inquiry based, group based, team based, project based, case based, community based, discovery based, competency based, evidence based, mastery based, research based, service based, problem based and data driven, not to mention massive, open and online.

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