•  Construct ideas from multiple points of view and different perspectives. Considering multiple viewpoints and perspectives contributes to understanding a concept and to greater cognitive flexibility in accessing and using the concept in a range of contexts.

Complex Strategies, Critical Thinking, Inquiry, and Self-Regulated Learning

•  Structure instruction to develop the effective use of complex strategies. Explicit training, modeling, and guided practice in the use of complex strategies is especially important for those with serious limitations in metacognition (the ability to understand, assess, and act on the adequacy of one’s memory, comprehension, learning, planning, problem-solving, and decision processes) and difficulties with regulating their own strategy use.

•  Combine complex strategy instruction with the learning of content. To facilitate learning and application of new knowledge in a subject domain, strategy instruction should be integrated with subject-matter content.


•  Effective feedback is immediate, accurate, and timely. Feedback should not contain too many corrections, too much negative feedback, or frequent interruptions of organized action sequences (such as reading a text aloud) because these can be demotivating and counterproductive in the acquisition of complex skills.

•  Qualitative feedback is better for learning than test scores and error flagging. Feedback is more effective if it points out errors and explains why the response is incorrect. The type of qualitative feedback that is optimal for different types of material and different types of learners requires further study.

Adaptive and Interactive Learning Environments

•  Adaptive learning environments foster understanding in complex domains. Adaptive learning environments are sensitive to the learner’s general profile, and level of mastery at any given point in time can facilitate the learning of complex material. The degree to which adaptive instruction from human instructors and computerized learning environments can facilitate and accelerate learning requires further study.

•  Interactive learning environments facilitate learning. Fine-grained feedback provided while learners engage in a task with hints that prompt generation of knowledge facilitates learning. Research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of specific interactive instructional approaches (e.g., reciprocal teaching method, modeling-scaffolding-fading, the Socratic method, refutation).

•  Learning is facilitated in genuine and coherent learning environments. Learning is enhanced by opportunities to practice and use skills for a purpose, although the effectiveness of specific approaches consistent with this principle remains to be tested.

Motivation and Emotion

•  Motivation is essential for learning. A learner's affective response to the learning experience influences not only engagement and persistence in a task but also the capacity for cognitive processing.

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