Teaching for Learning: Applying Current Research To Improve Learning for Your Students


There is a proliferation of misinformation pertaining to how students learn and how best to teach. Students themselves often do not fully understand their own cognitive processes, typically relying on implicit assumptions and trial-and-error to learn new material. The good news is that research provides clear evidence pertaining to what works best in the classroom with respect to human motivation and learning. This session is designed to provide you with evidence about how students learn, show you methods to get students more involved in the content, and demonstrate relevant applications from pedagogical research that can be used in just about any class. You will even have the opportunity to try out a few classroom strategies designed to increase student engagement.

Methods and/or Description of Project

Many students today seem uninterested and even apathetic with respect to learning. At the same time, other students in the same class are interested and engaged. Given this wide variability with respect to student interest in learning (and of course differences in abilities), what can we do as instructors to help students really engage in the learning process? This session will draw on the psychology of learning, social psychology, and even a bit of cognitive neuroscience. The goal is to both better understand HOW learning works and also demonstrate some easy to use techniques that can be used in just about any class. An expected side effect is that classrooms become more engaging for your students and perhaps even a bit more interesting for yourself. The real challenge will be to frame these new ideas in the foundation of what has been used throughout education in the past, including lectures and content heavy teaching.


By the end of this session, participants will: (1) have a better understanding of at least three key findings that apply to just about any learning situation; (2) recognize at least two commonly accepted practices that have limited support so these traps can be avoided; and (3) determine how to implement at least one new engaged learning strategy.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education

This session encourages participants to reflect upon their own current educational practices and curricula and begin to reconsider using educational practices based on research to support excellence in learning. This presentation has the potential to elevate the learning success of all students — regardless of their learning situations.


Doyle T, Zakrajsek T. The New Science of Learning: How Brain Research is Revolutionizing the Way We Learn. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing LLC; 2013.

Major CH, Harris MS, Zakrajsek T. Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Educational Activities to Put Students on the Path to Success. New York, NY: Routledge; 2016.

Persky AM. Pocket Guide for Evidence-Based Instruction. 2012. www.itlcnetwork.org/ed-tools.

Zakrajsek, T. Developing a SoTL Based Course. IN: Smith RA, Schwartz BM, ed. Using SoTL to Enhance Your Academic Position. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/.

Zakrajsek, T. Developing Learning in Faculty: Seeking Expert Assistance From Colleagues. New Directions for Higher Education, 2014: 63–73. doi:10.1002/he.20084

Zakrajsek, Todd D. Scholarly Teaching: Suggestions for a Road More Traveled, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: 2013;7(1), Article 2. Available at: https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2013.070102

Course Objectives

Despite a growing body of research on teaching methods, instructors don't have the time or resources to quickly synthesize proven approaches to promote student learning. The objectives of this presentation are to:
1.) Describe a variety of approaches to teaching and list the essential features and elements of each
2.) Review the current findings from research literature
3.) Describe techniques to improving effectiveness of teaching methods to improve student learning

Instructional Methods

The presentation session is designed to provide the audience with a variety of strategies, assessment techniques, and collaborative learning techniques to discuss and utilize immediately upon return to the classroom. The session will include a powerpoint presentation interlaced with participant discussion, and 20-30 minutes of questions and answers. Discussions are encouraged to enrich the learning environment of all participants.

Tentative Outline/Schedule

Introduction to Key Concepts (10 minutes)
Research Based Strategies and Techniques to promote learning (30-40 minutes)
Interwoven Participant Discussion (20 minutes)
Question and Answers (20-30 minutes)

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2745461
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Todd Zakrajsek, Dr. Sara Maher
  • Keywords:

BACK to Abstract Results