Classes should do hands-on exercises before reading and video, Stanford researchers say


A study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education of how students best learned a neuroscience lesson showed a distinct benefit to starting out by working with an interactive 3D model of the brain.
BY DAVID PLOTNIKOFF


A new study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education flips upside down the notion that students learn best by first independently reading texts or watching online videos before coming to class to engage in hands-on projects. Studying a particular lesson, the Stanford researchers showed that when the order was reversed, students' performances improved substantially.

"We are showing that exploration, inquiry and problem solving are not just 'nice to have' things in classrooms," said Blikstein. "They are powerful learning mechanisms that increase performance by every measure we have." Pea explained that these results indicate the value for learning of first engaging one's prior knowledge and intuitions in investigating problems in a learning domain – before being presented with abstracted knowledge. Having first explored how one believes a system works creates a knowledge-building relevance to the text or video that is then presented, he said.


The study buttresses what many educational researchers and cognitive scientists have been asserting for many years: the "exploration first" model is a better way to learn. In addition to these published findings, the researchers spoke at an American Educational Research Association meeting earlier this year about another study that used instructional video instead of text and obtained the same results. The team is now conducting follow-up studies.

"With this study, we are showing that research in education is useful because sometimes our intuitions about 'what works' are simply dead wrong," said Blikstein.


The study was funded with support from the National Science Foundation.

Excerpts from Stanford Report, Stanford News
Full article: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/july/flipped-learning-model-071613.html