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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Why Don’t Students and Teachers Do What They Should?


Learning in college courses is hard work that requires strategies that few students use and few teachers teach. In Bruce Henderson’s review of Learning as a Generative Activity: Eight Learning Strategies That Promote Understanding, by Logan Fiorella and Richard E. Mayer, Henderson points out most students prefer strategies “such as rereading, recopying, and highlighting (Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan, & Willingham, 2013)” (para. 10), when they should be following the eight “generative strategies” presented in this book. These less effective strategies are strong habits acquired along the way from K through 12.

Teachers could help students acquire new, more effective study habits. Some of these, however, are counterintuitive and create what have been called “desirable difficulties” (para. 10). But that would not be fun for either the student or the teacher, and would take time away from perhaps the worst habit of many teachers—the need to “cover” the course content. It also would mean that teachers would have to learn how to use these strategies themselves.

Perhaps readers who do help students learn to learn could tell others how they find the time for this, and perhaps more importantly, whether they were able to motivate students to use generative strategies.


Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14, 1–47.
Read the Review
ReviewLearning as Thinking and Thinking as Learning
By Bruce B. Henderson
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2015 Vol 60(37)


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Editor of PsycCRITIQUES

Danny Wedding, PhD

Chair of Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine,
American University of Antigua

Associate Editors of PsycCRITIQUES

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