Skip to main content

Welcome To


This education course will show you, through current research, how we learn — the way our brain makes, stores, and retrieves memories.

You will examine common misconceptions and misunderstandings about learning that can prevent students from learning at their fullest capacity. Along the way you will explore the practical implications of cognitive science for classroom teaching in terms of choosing effective instructional strategies, developing useful assessments, motivating student effort, and designing learner-centered curricular units.

This course is aimed to enhance the practice of K-12 teachers


  • How the brain encodes memories, stores them, and retrieves them for later use.

  • Why working memory is so important for learning and ways to prevent it from getting overloaded.

  • Strategies for making memories that “stick” and can be readily recalled when needed.

  • Misconceptions that many students have about learning and ways to correct them.

  • How student mindsets and beliefs about learning can help or hinder their academic success.

  • How to help students become independent and self-regulated learners so they can lead their own learning.

  • Teaching strategies and assessment techniques that maximize student learning.


Four Weekly Sessions

Starting on November 16, 2016 at 12PM (EST), each week on Wednesdays, new video lectures with accompanying learning activities: readings, quizzes, and discussion posts will be released for you to complete at your own pace. Most assessment content is due when the course concludes on December 21st, 2016 at 12PM (EST) unless otherwise noted.


Week 1

Memory and Learning

Learning in Schools

Understanding How Memory Works

Working Memory

Connecting Prior Knowledge

Making Memories

Retrieving Memories

Week 2


Taking the Student’s Perspective

Importance of Non-cognitive Factors

Growth Mindsets & Learning

Developing Growth Mindsets

Sense of Belonging

Week 3

Student Learning Strategies

Cognitive Load



Learning to Learn

Week 4

Effective Teaching Strategies

The Science of Learning and Effective Teaching Strategies

Feedback and Teaching

Retrieval Practice

Spacing and Interleaving



The four-week course is comprised of 4-7 video lectures that are between 5 - 12 minutes long. The videos can be watched at various speeds and with or without closed captioning. Additionally, downloadable transcripts will be available for each video lecture.

The videos will feature guest teachers from various schools in the United States invited to deliver lectures co-written by Dr. Pearl Rock Kane and Dr. Kevin Mattingly, professors at Teachers College, Columbia University. Interviews with these teachers will provide personal anecdotes on what has worked for them and what they have found challenging.


  • Discussion Forum: Will help us discuss, debate, and build community. Use [STAFF] in the subject of each post that needs attention from a course team member.

  • Self-Checks: Formative assessments that follow video segments test your understanding of core concepts.

  • Teacher Journal: A place for you to keep reflections and responses for your insights and applications we hope you will be able to use later in your own classroom practice.  We will use the Notes function of edX as our journal. Sometimes we will provide "prompts" for you to respond to yet you can use your Teaching Journal at anytime to record your thoughts and ideas.

  • Q & A Sessions: Will be scheduled with both Dr. Kane and Dr. Mattingly to increase interaction and gain deeper understanding of course content

  • Weekly Progress Chart: Will help you keep track of your progress by showing your completed assignments and quiz scores


Weekly Quizzes


Weekly quizzes assess your knowledge of the content for each week. The lowest scoring quiz will be dropped.



Self-reflections appear throughout the course to give you an opportunity to think deeper about concepts and evaluate your reflections.



Peer assessments provide an opportunity for you to view and give feedback on peer application of concepts and to receive feedback from peers.

Final Exam


A final exam will assess your understanding of major concepts covered.

You must earn 60% or more of the total grade to pass the course.

Self-Reflection Rubric


2 Proficient

1 Developing

0 Lacking

Relevance to Your Teaching Practice:

Discuss the relevance of the topic to your students and teaching practice

This response contains discussion of the relevance of the topic to your students and teaching practice in an in-depth and detailed way

This response contains discussion of the relevance of the topic to your students and teaching practice, but lacks depth and detail in some areas

Response does not discuss or address the topic relevance to your teaching practice.


Does the response provide an example of classroom application?

This response contains a clear and specific example of what seems to be a feasible application

This response contains an example of a classroom application, but it is difficult to determine or not stated clearly

Response does not discuss or address a classroom application

Peer-Assessment Rubric


3 Exemplary

2 Satisfactory

1 Needs Work

0 Not at all


Understanding of learning principle applied

Demonstrates a complete and accurate understanding of the learning principle applied to a classroom teaching context

Demonstrates an accurate understanding of the learning principle applied to a classroom teaching context. Detail and depth of understanding may be lacking in some aspects

Demonstrates a partial understanding of learning principle applied; may omit important information, or include inaccurate or misconceived elements

Response does not address assignment


Feasibility of classroom application

Lesson plan is clearly doable and feasible given the school/student context described

Design of lesson plan effectively links learning principle(s) to student activities

Lesson plan seems doable and feasible given the school/student context described

Design of lesson plan ineffectively links learning principle(s) to student activities


Lesson plan does not seem doable and feasible given the school/student context described

Response does not address assignment


Clarity and organization

Clear, organized, and understandable in conveying key ideas

Some lack of clarity and/or organization but still understandable in conveying key ideas

Confusing and/or disorganized in a way that limits understandably conveying key ideas

Lack of clarity and organization make submission unreadable