What is it about the position you are in now that makes you think things are moving in the right direction? That is if, in fact, you believe your field is coming along with those who are advancing into a future. For most industries, academia is part of the answer. Research centers are often where we turn for the latest discoveries and insight. Is it this also the case if you work in education? If you are a teacher or work in the education sector in your country, you may have a better answer than I do. Suffice it to say, the future of education will depend a lot to its relationship with basic research, but the same is not always true in the short-term.
Today, social science research faces many challenges. The “reproducibility crisis” being only the tip of the iceberg. But while we wait for the world to turn its head at the systemic pitfalls of how we create knowledge and turn it into something useful for all, you can do your part by helping find out if the results reported by peer-reviewed journals hold true in more general settings.
Below you’ll find a not-necessarily-representative survey of promising hypotheses in academic reviews that might just be worth applying in your next learning design. Remember: the important thing is not whether a hypothesis is right or wrong, but that we learn through the process. Besides, knowing when an idea does not work is just as valuable as knowing when one does.
(Some of the research below may be behind a paywall.)
Mobile learning activities that focus on knowledge creation and collaboration enhance student involvement compared to consumption-based ones
Crompton, Burke, Gregory (2017). The use of mobile learning in PK-12 education: A systematic review
Computers & Education
A “behaviorist approach to learning” for the design of mobile learning activities, researchers argue, limits student potential in terms of collaboration and production.
Introduction of “analyzing data,” “communicating results,” and other critical-thinking skills improve the quality of non-STEM education
Camacho, Valcke, Chiluiza (2017). Research based learning in higher education: a review of literature
Proceedings of the 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED2017)
“Transversal” subjects, or those that refer to the way specific topics are approached and understood, are the focus of increasing interest. This includes terms such as “computational thinking,” “systemic thinking,” and the classic “critical thinking.”
Presence of communication skills focusing on involvement is a large predictor of quality of care
Among the medical and patient care training students receive are lessons in communication skills, but they can vary greatly. Some skills are about the quality of knowledge held, but there are also “perceptual” skills. These are related to the caregiver’s ability to understand the patient, make them feel heard, and involve them in the process. These skills show promise in the future research and development of next-generation health care practice.
Fitness between learning and teaching styles contributes to academic achievement
The debate about the validity of learning styles in education is far from settled. This review offers a new batch of evidence; this time, it seems, arguing for the validity of a match between learning and teaching styles.
E-learning offers a sustainable path to attend to the higher education demands of young populations
Aldiab and others (2017). Prospect of eLearning in Higher Education Sectors of Saudi Arabia: A Review
At least, according to this review, that is the case in Saudi Arabia. The conclusion reached by these authors is based on an analysis of institutional capacity amid pressures for higher efficiency in the third of the nation’s budget devoted to education.
Outdoor education programmes (OEP) have a positive contribution to students’ academic, physical, social, and psychological dimensions
Becker and others (2017). Effects of Regular Classes in Outdoor Education Settings: A Systematic Review on Students’ Learning, Social and Health Dimensions
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
OEPs comprise activities conducted outside of the physical classroom setting, or they could eschew a classroom altogether. The activities often include some measure of physical exercise, though almost never of high intensity.
Robot-aided education for non-robot-related topics increase the quality of acquired real-world skills
Spolaôr and Vavassori Benitti (2017). Robotics applications grounded in learning theories on tertiary education: A systematic review
Computers & Education
This review sheds light on the increasingly common practice of using tools that involve hardware controlled by artificial intelligence to support learning interventions beyond the scope of engineering. The experiences, however, do tend to come out of computer science and engineering departments.
Some of the current practices in higher education have negative, possibly damaging, effects in people with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Anderson, Stephenson and Carter (2017). A systematic literature review of the experiences and supports of students with autism spectrum disorder in post-secondary education
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
The standard classroom experience could be detrimental for students with social, emotional, and sensory skills varying significantly from the normal. Even some of the usual support tools provide “idiosyncratic,” unreliable, or non-lasting benefits.
Engagement in Massive Online Open Courses takes accounting for a larger amount of cultural and contextual variables than previously thought
Deng, Benckendorff and Gannaway (2017). Understanding Learning and Teaching in MOOCs from the Perspectives of Students and Instructors: A Review of Literature from 2014 to 2016
Proceedings of the European Conference on Massive Open Online Courses EMOOCs 2017: Digital Education: Out to the World and Back to the Campus
The authors group dozens of factors into four categories: student background (country, age, gender), teaching context, student engagement (emotional, social, cognitive) and learning outcomes.
Project-Based Learning has long-lasting effects in corporate training interventions
PBL has the benefit of demonstrating clear evidence that can be attained by performance metrics. It also lends itself to high complementarity with workplace and learning trends from recent years, including a “flexible work environment,” “global collaboration,” “design thinking,” and “community involvement.”
Network effects from the application of social networks in learning interventions increase language skills, use of sources, and peer interaction
Lokman, Yasin and Khalid (2017). Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on the Effectiveness of Facebook Application in Teaching and Learning Process
International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences
The authors discovered that, since 2010, more than 151 papers about Facebook alone have been published, discussing experimental outcomes in the areas mentioned.
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