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Professional Development Articles

21st Century Learning: Research, Innovation and Policy

Nov 13, 2012 jjamison

This is a summary of research findings from the (CERI) Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

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What do CERI projects tell us on the nature of learning and how can this knowledge base help policy-makers to shape their direction of educated change? The key findings of these projects give useful directions for new learning environments in today‟s schools:

Personalised learning

Learning sciences research suggests that more effective learning will occur if each learner receives a customized learning experience. Different learners enter the classroom with different cognitive structures and as we know from neuroscience, individual characteristics are far from fixed. Therefore, students learn best when they are placed in a learning environment that is sensitive to their pre-existing structures and that is flexible enough to adapt teaching strategies to individual needs. Formative assessment can be seen as an essential element of those personalised learning approaches, as it is characterized by the continual identification of and responses to students‟ needs.

The importance of motivation and emotion in learning

The motivation to learn, the belief about one‟s own abilities and the existence of learning strategies are a precondition for successful and lifelong learning, as PISA has shown. These findings are supported by the results from neuroscience: Negative emotions that are caused, e.g. by incomprehensible learning materials, affect cognitive functions negatively.

Use of diverse knowledge sources

Learners can acquire knowledge whenever they need it from a variety of sources: books, technology, and experts around the globe. ICTs have become more and more important in today‟s world to acquire knowledge. Even though ICTs itself do not seem to have a positive learning impact, it is unquestionable that the use of ICTs itself needs to be a goal of today‟s schools.

Assessment for learning

Tests should evaluate the student‟s deeper conceptual understanding, the extent to which their knowledge is integrated, coherent, and contextualized – instead of focussing on the memorization of facts. In addition, the work on formative assessment shows how assessment should not only be used to „test‟ student‟s abilities but to help them assess their own learning progress. 10

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