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Motivating durable learning: focused attention through instructional design

Date: Friday,  September 21, 2018

Time: 11:30-1:00pm

Location: BSB 121

Guest Speaker:  JOE KIM 

Bio: Joe Kim is an Associate Professor in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University and co-ordinates the innovative McMaster Introductory Psychology ( program.  He also directs the Education & Cognition Lab which aims to understand how cognitive principles such as attention, memory and learning can be applied to develop evidence-based interventions in education and training. He also organizes the annual McMaster Symposium on Education & Cognition ( which brings together cognitive scientists, educators and policy makers to explore how cognitive science can be applied to educational policy and instructional design.

Abstract: Cognitive scientists have been systematically studying processes such as attention, memory and learning for more than 150 years. This rich resource of knowledge has been only recently applied to developing evidence-based interventions in education. A key focus of this research has been to promote learning that is durable – extending beyond short-term testing into long-term retention of information that remains with the student after the final exam. In this presentation, I will discuss three key factors that instructors can implement to promote durable learning:

1. Learning relies on sustained attention. In the class, instructors can implement methods to reduce mind wandering and students can engage in practices to promote effortful and focused attention.
2. Design of teaching materials directly guides learning.  Perhaps the largest impact an instructor can make on learning is to offer thoughtfully designed class materials that adhere to multimedia learning principles. Slide design that reduces cognitive load can promote student learning.
3. Study habits such as retrieval practice strengthen long-term retention. Instructors can implement effective assessment design into the course structure and students can learn to take an active role in learning and testing.

A key message in applying cognitive principles to instructional design is that both instructors and students have important parts to play in developing habits that promote durable learning.