In the "Introduction" to The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, R. Keith Sawyer argues that schools today do not reflect what research shows about the science of learning, but rather common sense assumptions that have been made about teaching and learning. For this reason, through his handbook Sawyer seeks to show key stakeholders how to design learning environments and classrooms that are rich with technology and reflect scientific research. According to Sawyer, citizens need to be able to move beyond memorizing facts to think critically about information and develop understandings that lead to innovations that solve real-world problems, but practices that reflect Instructionism function as an anchoring mechanism to such progress. Sawyer explains that by the 1970's researchers came to consensus on several key understandings about learning--
Sawyer provides a robust review of the related literature about Instructionism and the research findings on the science of learning with the help of two accomplished scholars that are both authorities on the learning sciences. Sawyer acknowledges that Roy Pea, a professor of Education and Learning Sciences at Stanford University and former Editor-in-Chief Emerita of The Journal of the Learning Sciences, Janet Kolodner, helped with the historical details. Sawyer uses the historical details to argue that schools today are not based on research, but rather common sense assumptions about teaching and learning. While the claim certainly holds some merit today, one would be remiss if the date of publication was not taken into consideration as since 2006 the vast majority of schools have redesigned curriculum and adopted new practices that better align with the research findings related to the science of learning. Regardless of where schools are at on the continuum of redesigning classrooms to promote better learning, Sawyer's concise list of the practical implications of the research about the science of learning will serve schools well.
Sawyer's recommendations for promoting better learning based on the research findings of the learning sciences could easily serve as a guide for curriculum directors and/or department teams seeking to update learning spaces or redesign new ones to better serve the needs of today's students and foster a culture of knowledge construction and innovation. Furthermore, for schools that have adopted the ISTE Standards for Educators and Students, the historical details provide a rationale for the educator and student shifts that were made between the NETS and the current ISTE standards. As such, the introduction can one of two functions. For some, the introduction may be a practical roadmap for designing spaces to promote better learning. And for others, this resource may simply be a starting point that prompts reflection and generates conversation for future planning.
Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Chapter 1 introduction: The new science of learning. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.). The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (p. 1-16). New York: Cambridge University Press.