Paul Kirschner on "What Has Educational Psychology Ever Done for Us?"

This webinar was recorded on February 17th 2023

When I’m asked what have educational- and cognitive psychology given us as teachers and educational institutions I always must think back to Monty Python’s Life of Brian. While planning a ‘terrorist’ action, John Cleese as Brother Reg asks the, seemingly rhetorical, question “What have the Romans ever given us?”. After a few minutes of debate, he utters the immortal line: “Alright! – but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

Why? Because since the cognitive revolution in psychology where what happens in our heads while learning moved from a behaviouristic black box (e.g., Thorndike, Skinner) to a translucent/transparent view of learning. Starting with George Millier’s famous paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two…” that humans can effectively process no more than seven units, or chunks, of information, plus or minus two pieces of information, at any given time. we’ve had breakthroughs with respect to meaningful learning (David Ausubel), information processing (Atkinson & Shiffrin / Baddeley & Hitch), dual coding (Alan Paivio), elaboration theory (Charles Reigeluth), mathemagenic activities (Ernst Rothkopf), cognitive load (John Sweller), and desirable difficulties (Robert and Elizabeth Bjork) just to name a few giants and what they have done for us as teachers and researchers. And I’m not including what educational- and cognitive psychology has done by busting the myths of multitasking, learning styles, learning pyramids and so forth.

In this webinar, I discussed what learning is (as opposed to achievement), some of the giants upon whose shoulders we stand, what their effects are on pedagogy and how we (should) teach.

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