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How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School
materials. Educators, administrators, and policy makers are eager for help in sorting through what already exists. They want to know which of these current practices, training programs, and policies are in alignment with the principles in this volume and which are in clear violation.
Moreover, educators involved in this study emphasized that new ideas are introduced to schools one after another, and teachers become weary and skeptical that any new reform effort will be better than the last. Zealous efforts to promote the newest idea often overlook existing practices that are successful. An effort to identify such practices will build support from those who have long been engaged in teaching for understanding.
Together, these three themes suggest that an effective bridge between research and practice will require a consolidated knowledge base on learning and teaching that builds, or is cumulative, over time. Elaborating on the conceptualization in Figure 11.1, this knowledge base appears at the center of Figure 11.2. Fed by research, it organizes, synthesizes, interprets, and communicates research findings in a manner that allows easy access and effective learning for those in each of the mediating arenas. Attending to the communication and information links between the knowledge base and each of the components of the model simultaneously enhances the prospect for the alignment of research ideas and practice.
Two additional themes focus on how research should be conducted to strengthen its link to practice:
Conduct research in teams that combine the expertise of researchers and the wisdom of practitioners. Much of the work that is needed to bridge research and practice focuses on the education and professional development of teachers, the curriculum, instruction and assessment tools that support their teaching, and the policies that define the environment in which teaching takes place. These are areas about which practitioners have a great deal of knowledge and experience. Thus it is important to have educators partnered with researchers in undertaking these research projects. Such partnerships allow the perspectives and knowledge of teachers to be tapped, bringing an awareness to the research of the needs and dynamics of a classroom environment. Since such partnerships are novel to many researchers, exemplary cases and guiding principles will need to be developed to make more likely the successful planning and conduct of research team partnerships.
Extend the frontier of learning research by expanding the study of classroom practice. As the earlier discussion of the Stokes work suggests, research efforts that begin by observing the learning that takes place