Application of the Deans for Impact Report, The Science of Learning How Do Students Understand New Ideas?


  • CarieAnn Morrissey University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Jacob Boula University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Kristina Morgan University of North Carolina at Charlotte


Preservice teachers, The Science of Learning, cognitive load, working memory, relational learning, scaffolding, educational research, mathematics


This article examines the question, “How do students understand new ideas?†from the Deans for Impact report (2015).  Within this paper, applications that address the three cognitive principles identified by the report will be discussed.  The strategies recommended include incorporating worked examples into problem solving lessons in order to reduce cognitive load and free working memory, providing multiple opportunities to examine connections during reading instruction, and integrating guided discovery into mathematics instruction. Designing lessons which incorporate different modalities and multiple opportunities for students to make connections to prior learning and understanding during lessons have also been shown to increase opportunities for new learning.  Finally, the concepts of developmentally appropriate content and scaffolding are briefly examined.






Understanding of New Ideas