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The Science of Learning: How to Accelerate Math Achievement

Teaching has become more difficult in the past two years, as indicated by the alarming decline in student math achievement across the country. Wanting to apply the best teaching strategies to educate our students effectively is its own undertaking, but different approaches have different consequences. What we once considered tried and true teaching strategies may no longer be in a student’s best interest.

For educators, it seems natural to focus on how we teach when attempting to accelerate student learning. Traditional approaches, however, have emphasized re-teaching information with the hope that students who are behind will catch up to their grade level. This simply isn’t the case. Having students sift through years of content in a single school year is a futile attempt to get them to “catch up.”

So, what does accelerate learning? 

To answer this question, we need to focus less on ineffective teaching strategies and spend more time thinking about how our students learn. At the heart of this question is the science of learning. Neuroscience research about how the brain learns, as well as technological and pedagogical innovations, can help us better understand the brain’s natural learning processes. 

Our researchers unpack the science of learning even further in MIND Research Institute’s latest e-book: How to Accelerate Learning with Neuroscience.

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In this e-book, you will learn how:

Neuroscience can accelerate student learning.

  • We learn through a constant flow of information between the world around us and our brains. Neuroscientists call this the perception-action cycle. The perception-action cycle is a universal learning mechanism for humans. Understanding how our brains learn, and leveraging this powerful natural process, is the secret key to accelerating learning.

Formative feedback is essential to the learning process.

  • A feedback-rich learning environment invites and encourages students to repeat the perception-action-cycle, strengthening schemas, correcting misapprehensions, and developing new schemas, as needed. Accelerating learning requires giving students more opportunities to repeat the perception-action cycle in a safe, feedback-rich environment.

Schema-building, rather than skill-building, accelerates learning.

  • Schemas are developed, strengthened, and revised through the perception-action cycle over time and through many different encounters with a concept. Accelerated learning programs typically look at student learning as a set of disparate skills. This overlooks the deeper problem. Concentrating on skills, instead of schemas, is akin to missing the forest for the trees. 

Student self-belief is a powerful driver of math success.

  • As students develop not just the schemas, but the mindsets to persevere in math, they will continue to make progress not only in math proficiency on standardized tests, but in their ability to apply mathematical concepts to real-world challenges.

 Accelerated learning is accessible to all students.

  • Students who are currently performing below grade level are not the only ones who benefit when you leverage the neuroscience of learning. Accelerating feedback, accentuating schemas over skills, and giving students grade-level content is effective for all students.

Accelerating learning for math students is no easy endeavor. But with the right approach and tools, it is achievable. Humans are life-long learners, determined to grow and persevere every step of the way. Students have the capacity—if we nurture them appropriately and help cultivate their natural curiosity—to excel in math and life. 

Victor Nguyen

About the Author

Victor Nguyen is MIND’s Content and Community Specialist. Victor is a passionate storyteller with a penchant for creative writing. In his free time, you can find him engrossed in books, watching reruns of Frasier, or trying to meditate.

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