Best Practice

The science of learning

How can cognitive science make us better teachers? Matt Bromley dissects the four stages of the cognitive process and discusses the implications for your classroom.

Learning is a complex cognitive process which, broadly speaking, occurs in four stages: 





Let’s take a look at each of these four stages in turn...

Samuel Johnson said that “the true art of memory is the art of attention”. If we are to be effective as teachers we should think carefully about how our lessons will gain and retain our students’ attentions. In order to be attentive to a task, students must be motivated by it and must believe that making an effort will pay-off.

There are two main types of attention: goal-oriented and stimulus-oriented. Goal-oriented attention is gained through motivation, curiosity, and other self-driven forces – in other words, we actively attend to something – and is retained through intent. Stimulus-oriented attention is gained through the sensory stimuli that surround us – in other words, our response to sights, sounds and smells – and is retained subconsciously, thus overriding our goal-oriented attention.

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