Learning Beyond the Classroom

Learning doesn’t stop when we leave the classroom; it’s something we do throughout our lives. Researchers know a fair amount about how we learn in educational settings, but a whole lot less is known about the learning we do on the job, at home, and at play. Now, a group of eminent scientists is addressing this disparity through an initiative known as the Life Long Learning at Work and at Home (L3).

With a task force of more than 30 distinguished researchers, chaired by Diane Halpern, Art Graesser, and Milt Hakel, the L3 initiative is taking stock of what psychologists do know about the science of learning and is disseminating knowledge about life long learning and thinking skills, such as knowing when and how to learn, thinking critically, and identifying and solving problems.

Four groundbreaking symposia on this topic were featured at the APS 19th Annual Convention in Washington, DC. Presenters from psychology, education, and human development explored basic principles of learning, applications of principles that promote performance on the job and in the classroom, technological tools that enhance learning, and the ways in which learning takes place across the lifespan. Their talks are available below.

One of the themes emerging from the talks was that the nature of learning is changing in our multi-media world. Not only is our learning adapting to technology, but how we interact with technology is actually informing us about learning processes. This in turn will help us build better computer aids for learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.

There also was agreement about the urgent need to translate what we know into the real world. We know something about how to make feedback effective, how to enhance on-the-job training, and how to make it easier for older adults to retain information. The challenge is to disseminate this information and ensure that evidence-based applications and tools become the norm. One way the academic community is accomplishing this is by working in non-traditional realms, such as in business schools and educational consulting companies.

The Life Long Learning at Work and at Home website is: http://psyc.memphis.edu/learning/

Keep an eye out for information about the activities of the Life Long Learning at Work and at Home initiative, including the L3 program at the upcoming APS convention in Chicago in May 2008.

Symposia Talks Available Online

The L3 program featured stellar researchers in the psychological, educational, and developmental fields, including:

Roger Azevedo, University of Memphis (transcript | slides)

Susan Goldman, University of Illinois, Chicago (transcript | slides)

Nora Newcombe, Temple University (transcript | slides)

Bruce Torff, Hofstra University (transcript | slides)

Valerie Shute, Educational Testing Service (transcript | slides)

Eduardo Salas, University of Central Florida (transcript| slides)

Art Graesser, University of Memphis (transcript | slides)

Milt Hakel, Bowling Green University (transcript| slides)

James Gee, Arizona State University (transcript | slides)

Ken Koedinger, Carnegie Mellon University (transcript | slides)

Dexter Fletcher, Institute for Defense Analysis (transcript | slides)

Denise Park, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (slides)

Observer Vol.20, No.9 October, 2007

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