Recommended Books – Teaching and Learning

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There exist excellent books that every educator should study. I will provide a short partial list on this page. Some have weathered the test of time and others are quite recent.

INSTRUCTIONS
This page is quite long and promises to get even longer. Therefore I have created an index to help you navigate the page and to enjoy additional opportunities.

  1. Click on the book’s name to reveal information and my comments about the book.
  2. Click on the Author’s name to reveal Amazon’s list of books by that author.
  3. Click on the copyright year if you are ready to purchase the book (or anything else from Amazon).
  4. Of course you are welcome to browse the page by scrolling.

Brown, Peter C. (2014-04-14). Make It Stick, Harvard University Press.
Available at Amazon

My Comment:
A MUST READ.
It should be the first book in the study of current knowledge about learning and memory.
If this book does not get you excited you should not be in education.

Authors:
Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger III is an American psychology researcher in the area of human learning and memory. Washington University St. Louis, MO.

Mark A. McDaniel is an American psychology researcher in the area of human learning and memory.  Washington University St. Louis, MO.

Peter C. Brown is writer and novelist in St. Paul, MN.

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Lang, James M. (2016). Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons for the Science of Learning  Available at  Amazon
My Comment:
A MUST READ AFTER reading “Make It Stick”
He reviews much of the current cognitive science and relates it to specific teaching techniques. Puts the research into practice.
Author:
James M. Lang is Professor of English and the Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in Worcester, MA.
Professor Lang is the author of five books and more than a hundred reviews or essays, on topics ranging from higher education to British literature.
In this book Professor Lang presents a number of small easy to implement practices based on the most current cognitive science. He directs his comments toward college and university teachers, but each of his techniques can easily be adapted to high school.
For starters every teacher should study the books “Make It Stick” and “Small Learning”.

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Willingham, Daniel T. (2009-06-10). Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom.

Available at Amazon

My Comment:It should be the second book in the study of current knowledge about learning and memory.   Professor Willingham is well respected in the cognitive science community.  His work is frequently cited by others.
Author:
Daniel T. Willingham is a psychologist at the University of Virginia, where he is a professor in the Department of Psychology. Willingham’s research focuses on the application of findings from cognitive psychology and neuroscience to K-12 education.

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Willis M.D., Judith (2006). Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher.  Available at Amazon
My Comment:
Very good book. Clear explanations. Advances in neuroimaging and brain-mapping yield astonishing insights into the learning process.
Author:
Dr. Judy Willis, is on the adjunct faculty of the University of California Santa Barbara Graduate School of Education. She travels nationally and internationally giving presentations, workshops, and consulting about learning and the brain. Dr. Willis is a board-certified neurologist with 15 years as a practicing neurologist and ten subsequent years as a classroom teacher. She has published seven books about applying neuroscience research to classroom teaching strategies.

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Stahl, Steven A. (1999)Vocabulary Development (From Reading Research to Practice, V. 2) Available at Amazon
A Review: Even though VOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT has a 1999 copyright, the content is still both relevant and useful. This thin book is part of the series titled From Reading Research to Practice, A Series for Teachers. VOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT was written by the late Steven Stahl, an eminent reading researcher.VOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT is written for teachers, but adult students will find it accessible.

Author:
Dr. Steven A. Stahl.  Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois. Dr. Stahl teaches courses in reading education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is Co-director of the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement. Prior to pursuing doctoral studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he was a special education teacher in New York and Maine. He has conducted research in many aspects of reading education and has a long-standing interest in beginning reading instruction and vocabulary instruction. At the time this book was written, Dr.Stahl was a Professor of Reading Education at the University of Georgia.

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Carey, Benedict (2014). How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens.  Available at Amazon
Review Comments:
This book has a great way of explaining how our brains work and he puts it in terms that are easy to understand. This book would be a great tool for all teachers to read to understand how students learn. It gives great ways to increase learning and skills in the classroom.
Author:
   Benedict Cary is an American journalist and reporter on medical and science topics for The New York Times

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Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, Marie K. Norman (2010) How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching.  Available at Amazon
My Comment: Foreword by Richard Mayer.
Author:
 Dr. Susan A. Ambrose is currently Professor of Education and History and Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education & Experiential Learning at Northeastern University. She earned her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, and served as Associate Provost for Education, Director of the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, and a Teaching Professor in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon before joining Northeastern in August 2012.

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Keith Devlin (2012). “Introduction to Mathematical Thinking”. Kindle Edition. Available at Amazon
From Review: I really believe that the author is on a sincere mission to teach mathematical thinking and reasoning in general. I am reading the book and the concepts again and it is clearer to me the second time around. I have also take several math and statistics courses and I wish I had a base in Mathematical Thinking before I studied these subjects – this would have saved a lot angst over the abstract nature of learning mathematical procedures. I learned and forgot lot of these procedures but I now understand the reasoning for these procedures.
Author:
Dr. Keith Devlin is a mathematician at Stanford University in California. He is a co-founder and Executive Director of the university’s H-STAR institute, a co-founder of the Stanford Media X research network, and a Senior Researcher at CSLI. He has written 31 books and over 80 published research articles.
He is “the Math Guy” on National Public Radio. http://www.stanford.edu/~kdevlin/MathGuy.html.
He writes a monthly column for the Mathematical Association of America, “Devlin’s Angle”: http://www.maa.org/devlin/devangle.html
Along with many other awards and several research interests.

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Bloom, Benjamin S. Editor (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Book I Cognitive Domain Available at Amazon

My Comments:
The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Book 1: The Cognitive Domain (Edited by Benjamin S. Bloom) was first published in 1956. Quite a few experts of the day contributed to this book.
Despite it age this book should be used regularly and be well known by every teacher and instructional developer. I have found it to be an invaluable resource for teaching mathematics and developing related instructional material.
“The major purpose in constructing a taxonomy of educational objectives is to facilitate communication.” is the first sentence of Chapter 1. That may have been the original intended purpose, but its purposes and uses have far exceeded those modest expectations.
The original taxonomy contains six classes:
1. Knowledge
2. Comprehension
3. Application
4. Analysis
5. Synthesis
6. Evaluation
In Part II of the book each of these classes is divided into subclasses.
The authors point out: “… the more complex behaviors include the simpler behaviors.”
They also state: “… so long as the simpler behaviors may be viewed as components of the more complex behaviors, we can view the educational process as one of building on the simpler behavior.”
Current learning scientists use slightly different language but still advance this fact about learning.
For example, Daniel T. Willingham states: “All new learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.”
In 2011, on Page 29 of “Applying the Science of Learning” Richard R. Mayer endorses the following 1932 statement by Frederick Bartlett: “… learning is impaired when a learner lacks the appropriate prior knowledge because the outcome of learning depends both on what is presented, and the learner’s existing knowledge used to assimilate it.”
The importance of prior knowledge to new learning receives considerable attention in the 2010 book “How Learning Works”, cited above. Two statements caught my attention:
1. “… new knowledge ‘sticks better’ when it has prior knowledge to stick to.”
2. “… the extent to which students are able to draw on prior knowledge to effectively construct new knowledge depends on the nature of their prior knowledge …”
From Item 2, I infer that if prior knowledge consists of training, it serves poorly as a base on which to build conceptual understanding. This inference references the most common flawed activity in early algebra classes.
A principle such as the above, which has:
1. Stood the test of time,
2. Consistently been considered important,
3. Been reinforced by current research
should serve as important guideposts for all teaching and learning. The book reveals other general, important, and useful guideposts.
Part II consists of statements and examples of each class and subclass of the taxonomy. Mathematics receives adequate attention.
The Appendix consists of a very useful condensed version of the taxonomy.
If you have not recently studied “Bloom’s Taxonomy” pull it off your bookshelf and study it carefully next week. If it is not on your bookshelf (shame on you) remedy that deficiency by ordering it by following the Amazon link right now.

Editor: Benjamin Samuel Bloom (February 21, 1913 – September 13, 1999) was an American educational psychologist who made contributions to the classification of educational objectives and to the theory of mastery learning.

I will quote an ESSAY by Guskey, Thomas R.
“Few individuals in the history of education have had greater impact on education policy and practice than Benjamin S. Bloom. During a career that spanned more than 5 decades, his research and writing guided the development of many educational programs and provided insights into the untapped potential of educators to have all students learn well. Bloom’s contributions to education began during his years in the Office of the Board of Examiners at the University of Chicago, where he worked from 1940 to 1959. Much of his work at this time focused on the relationships among methods of instruction, educational outcomes, and measurement of those outcomes. This work led to his first book in 1950 and eventually to the work for which he is best known, the “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain.” In 1959 Bloom spent a year at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. This year marked a shift in high research and writing, as Bloom began to concentrate on problems in learning, rather than problems in testing, measurement, and evaluation. Bloom’s most notable contribution to teaching and learning was his work in developing the theory and practice of mastery learning. Mastery learning was developed as a way for teachers to provide higher quality and more appropriate instruction for their students. Mastery learning depends on feedback, correctives, and enrichments, combined with another essential element of mastery learning, congruence among instructional components. Mastery learning is not an educational panacea, but careful attention to the essential elements of mastery learning will allow educators at all levels to make great strides toward the goal of all children learning excellently.”

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Anderson, Lorin W., David R. Krathwohl (2001) A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
Available at Amazon
My Comments: An excellent revision of the classic known as Bloom’s Taxonomy.
A solid reference for every educator.

Authors:
Lorin W. Anderson is a Carolina Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina, where he served on the faculty from August, 1973, until his retirement in August, 2006.  He holds a Ph.D. in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistical Analysis from the University of Chicago, where he was a student of Benjamin S. Bloom.

David R. Krathwohl (born May 14, 1921) is an American educational psychologist who has served education in a multitude of settings. While studying with Benjamin Bloom, he co-authored the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, (known simply as Bloom’s Taxonomy)

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Gagné, Robert Mills Principles of Instructional Design (Fourth 1974 or Fifth Edition 2004)
Available at Amazon

My Comments:

  The fourth edition is probably hard to find and the fifth edition is probably better by virtue of being updated.

I still prefer his definition of instruction: “Instruction is a deliberately arranged set of external events designed to support internal learning processes.”

Author:
Robert Mills Gagné (August 21, 1916 – April 28, 2002) was an American educational psychologist best known for his “Conditions of Learning”. Gagné pioneered the science of instruction.

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Block, James Mastery Learning: Theory and Practice
Available at Amazon

My Comments: 
This little book served as an easy reference when I developed and operated a large successful mastery learning remedial mathematics program.

Author:
Block, James Harold was born on September 24, 1945 in London. Son of Harold C. and Lilian (Ryan) Block. came to the United States, 1946. He was educated at: AB, University of Chicago, 1967; AM, University of Chicago, 1968; Doctor of Philosophy, University of Chicago, 1970. His professional life consisted of Assistant professor education, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1971-1975; associate professor, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1975-1986; professor, University of California, Santa Barbara, since 1986.

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Mayer, Richard E. Applying the Science of Learning
Available at Amazon

My Comments:
I have not yet written a review.  It is an unusual book format.  Lots good information.

Author:

Richard E. Mayer (born 1947) is an American educational psychologist who has made significant contributions to theories of cognition and learning, especially as they relate to problem solving and the design of educational multimedia. Mayer’s best known contribution to the field of educational psychology is multimedia learning theory, which posits that optimal learning occurs when visual and verbal materials are presented together simultaneously.

He was ranked #1 as the most productive educational psychologist in the world for 1997-2001.  He is the author of more than 390 publications including 23 books on education and multimedia. He received a PhD in psychology from the University of Michigan (1973), and served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology at Indiana University from 1973-1975. Mayer is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he has served since 1975.

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Wegener, Delano P. Constructing Mathematical Models

Available at Amazon

My Comments:
This is the first book in a planned series to discuss and simplify the classic dreaded “WORD PROBLEMS.”  The presentation is a break with tradition in the sense that a consistent application of the Transitive Property of Equality is used to model and solve all word problems.

The text begins with a brief discussion of mathematics models, detached language, formulas, The Transitive Property of Equality, and its use to develop mathematics models.

Part II of the book consists of a number of common examples chosen to illustrate the process of constructing a mathematical model.

Author:
Delano P. Wegener (born 1937) is an American mathematician and mathematics professor.  A reasonably up to date vita is available HERE.

A collection of Dr. Wegener’s papers and essays may be accessed HERE.

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Weinstein, Yana and Sumeracki, Megan Understanding How We Learn
Available at Amazon

My Comments:
Since 2016, the authors have had a significant Internet presence.   They are cognitive psychologists who do applied research in education.  They have studied under, worked with, and published with leaders in the cognitive science.

Academicians will be pleased with the list of references, at the end of each chapter, to primary sources.  The short glossary at the end of the book will also be welcomed by any serious student of this work.

Physically the book is 165 pages divided into four parts:

  • Part 1: Evidence-based Education and the Science of Learning
  • Part 2: Basics of Human Cognitive Processes
  • Page 3: Strategies for Effective Learning
  • Part 4: Tips for Teachers, Students, and Parents

In Chapter 1, they discuss the very significant gap which exists between science and the practice of education.  What happens in classrooms is less controlled by established science than by old wife’s tales, anecdotal evidence, financial interests, etc.  The authors introduce six proven strategies which will receive considerable attention in the remainder of the book.

In the last two chapters of Part 1, we are introduced to some types of available evidence and an explanation of how intuition can, and has, misled our efforts in education.

They close Part 1 by presenting a list of ten commonly believed misunderstanding (myths) about learning.  Unfortunately they only discuss two of these in any detail.  A detailed discussion of the other eight myths would be appreciated.

To learn something requires that we perceive it, pay attention to it, and remember it. The three chapters in Part 2 address these critical cognitive processes. Now would be a good time to examine and study my Diagram “Mitigation of Forgetting”.

Chapter 5 clarifies sensation, perception, bottom-up and top-down processing. Every teacher and instructional developer must understand these concepts. A student who understands these concepts will surely be a better student for it.

I WILL CONTINUE THESE COMMENTS AS I CONTINUE MY STUDY OF THE BOOK

Author:
Yana Weinstein is an Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts, Lowell.  Yana received her PhD in Psychology from University College London and had 4 years of postdoctoral training at Washington University in St. Louis where she worked with Henry Roediger (author of “Make It Stick”) . Her publication list is substantial.

 

Megan Sumeracki is an Assistant Professor at Rhode Island College.  Megan received her Master’s in Experimental Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis (advisor: Dr. Henry Roediger, III) and her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Purdue University (advisor Jeffrey Karpicke) . Her area of expertise is in human learning and memory, and applying the science of learning in educational contexts.

 

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The intent to to provide an every increasing list of books with reviews and commentary which will help the interested reader with the decision to buy or not. I intend also to make it easy for you to purchase (one click to Amazon) any of these books. I encourage recommendations from visitors to this page.  I will consider any recommendations you make, but the choice to include or not is mine alone.   Please leave your recommendations in the Comments form.

The purpose is to provide a list of books which will help an interested reader remain current with the best and most recent knowledge about teaching and learning. In particular books from the fields of cognitive psychology, neuroimaging, educational psychologist, and books that apply these scientific findings to teaching and learning mathematics will be featured on this page.