focusing instruction primarily on differences may not be as effective as one may
hope. Further, individual difference
theories typically argue for a more fluid
and contextual perspective, making
static categories rather unwieldy, if not
plain impossible. That is, a student may
process lessons in science differently
than he or she does in art or history.
If this student is assigned to the same
group in both domains, we may actually
be subverting the learning process.
All students do have
certain things in
common. Indeed, it
would be astonishing
Cepeda, N. J., Pashler, H., Vul, E., Wixted,
J. T., & Rohrer, D. (2006). Distributed
practice in verbal recall tasks: A review
and quantitative synthesis. Psychological
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Hecht. S. A. (2002). Counting on working memory in simple arithmetic when
counting is used for problem solving.
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Kalyuga, S., Chandler, P., Tuovinen, J., &
Sweller, J. (2001). When problem solving
is superior to studying worked examples.
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Pashler, H., Bain, P., Bottge, B., Graesser,
A., Koedinger, K., McDaniel, M., & Met-calfe, J. (2007). Organizing instruction and
study to improve student learning (NCER
2007-2004). Washington, DC: Institute
of Education Sciences, U.S. Department
Penner, D. E., & Klahr, D. (1996). The
interaction of domain-specific knowledge
and domain-general discovery strate-
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Daniel Willingham is professor and
director of graduate studies, Psychology Department, University of Virginia,
David Daniel is professor of psychology, James Madison University, Har-risonburg, Virginia; email@example.com.
if they didn’t.
Of course, students will differ with
regard to how they respond to and benefit from any single instructional strategy in a given lesson. There is no doubt
that students have individual differences
that are both situational and preferential. And there is no doubt that effective
teachers address these differences using
their own experience as a guide.
But when it comes to applying
research to the classroom, it seems
inadvisable to categorize students into
more and more specialized groups on
the basis of peripheral differences when
education and cognitive sciences have
made significant progress in describing
the core competencies all students
share. Teachers can make great strides
in improving student achievement by
leveraging this body of research and
teaching to commonalities, not
A BRIGHTER FUTURE
Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan capitalize on
their former differences to collaborate on a new
book that will transform the teaching profession.
Riveting in its insights and irresistible in its ideas
for action, this is a book that no-one connected
with schools can afford to ignore. A book so
different, we can’t reveal the title until publication.