Joe Bathelt's Reviews > How Learning Happens: Seminal Works in Educational Psychology and What They Mean in Practice

How Learning Happens by Paul A Kirschner
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it was ok

In this book, the authors summarise a seminal paper from the fields of education, educational psychology, cognitive psychology or related area in each chapter and make recommendations on how this work can be applied in teaching. The chapters are grouped around broader themes, including brain science, cognitive mechanisms of learning, the role of the teacher, the learning environment, and common misconceptions. In general, I thought that the book was quite informative and provided a good overview of the foundations of education as a scientific discipline. However, I also felt that the book had quite a few shortcomings. My main issue is the structure of the book that focuses chapter around one paper. On one hand, this is useful for anyone who wants to get more detailed knowledge of the foundation of education research with relevant references. On the other hand, it feels like a bit of an intellectual cop-out. Rather than providing a coherent overview of a scientific field, this treatment feels piecemeal and misses the broader connections between separate research strands. In addition, the structure leads to some redundancy because the authors had repeat some points to provide the context in later chapters. Another shortcoming is that many of the seminal works are quite old. For instance, one of the last chapters about the use of technology in the classroom is based on a review from the 1980s. A more thorough treatment of this topic that incorporated research that is not 40 years old would have been quite relevant for many readers. Lastly, there are some issues with editing. There were several typos and spelling mistakes, tables were duplicated, and there were typesetting issues with the references at the end of each chapter. Also, please be warned if you are buying the Kindle edition that you will not be able to open this book on a Kindle device. At least, this was the case on my Kindle Paperwhite (2019 edition). It can be opened with the Kindle app and is displayed like a PDF.
In general, I would not recommend this book. I’m not very familiar with other textbooks in the area, but I expect that there are alternative foundational textbooks that are probably more informative for most readers.
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April 29, 2020 – Shelved
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