What should our students learn?
What should our students learn? (in On the cutting edge; teaching mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry, David W. Mogk (editor))
Elements (April 2007) 3 (2): 101-106
Traditionally, college science teachers have focused on delivering content to students. The assumption was that students would learn the information and could recall and use it later. Current research on learning, however, tells us that such an approach to teaching, by itself, is not the best way to promote learning. Learning is not a process that simply involves knowledge transfer. Instead, it is a physiological process that involves changes in the brain. Good teaching, therefore, should focus on helping students develop their cognitive skills, while simultaneously helping them become better learners. Students will learn specific ideas and facts in our classes, but the information learned is of much less importance than the learning and thinking skills acquired. Our overall goal should be to help students become lifelong learners, successful as citizens and professionals. Assessment and self-reflection are keys. Students must learn to reflect on, and assess, their own learning. Instructors must also constantly assess their own efforts to promote student learning.