SUMMARY - Grasp_ The Science Transforming How We Learn - Sanjay Sarma & Luke Yoquinto



Here is a summary of the key points:

  • William James' early memory study contradicted views of innate faculties and intrigued young Edward Thorndike.

  • Thorndike studied under James at Harvard and conducted early learning experiments on chicks and cats in mazes, observing improvements with experience.

  • He proposed the influential theory of trial-and-error learning and the "Law of Effect" - behaviors followed by satisfaction become stronger through repetition.

  • Thorndike helped establish the behaviorist approach championed by John Watson, which objectively studied observable behavior without inward mental processes.

  • B.F. Skinner further developed behaviorism through teaching machine experiments. Behaviorism had major influences on 20th century psychology, education practices, and approaches to training animals and soldiers during WWII.

  • Thorndike and behaviorism established psychology as an experimental, quantitative science of observable behavior rather than inner mental states.

    Here is a summary:

  • The passage describes the author's experience being pranked during his early training to work on an offshore oil rig. As a new trainee, his boss instructed him to climb to the top of a tall platform and ask a worker for a "long weight."

  • When the author reached the top in freezing rain, the worker told him to stay put rather than providing the non-existent item. This revealed it was a practical joke to test the trainee's willingness to follow instructions without question.

  • Years later, the author looked back on this training experience fondly as an effective lesson. It taught the importance of carefully following all directives, even seemingly nonsensical ones, when working in dangerous conditions on an oil rig.

  • The passage then briefly discusses an experiment using optogenetics in mouse brains that challenged existing neural theories of memory formation and erasure. While groundbreaking, the exact memory encoding mechanism remains an open area of investigation across neuroscience.

So in summary, the author recounts a prank during oil rig training that taught an important safety lesson through direct experience, and the passage ties this anecdote to ongoing scientific inquiries into memory formation at the neural level.

Here are the key points summarized:

  • Brandon is falling behind on his robotics project for a Star Wars-themed competition where robots must complete tasks like spinning toy starship parts.

  • Brandon's design uses scissors actuated by fishing line to grab stormtrooper toys, but he's struggling to grip them firmly.

  • His professor Winter evaluated students' progress and praised another student's simpler but effective design, implicitly criticizing Brandon's complex design.

  • Other students have more advanced designs incorporating functional elements like wheels and lifts. Brandon remains unsure how to progress given the challenges with his design.

  • Hands-on projects and competitions are meant to help students apply their conceptual knowledge, but sometimes instructors have to balance encouragement with constructive criticism to help students learn.

    Here is a revised summary that incorporates the additional details:

  • During the 1970s and 1980s, Elizabeth Bjork faced challenges in her research career due to nepotism laws at universities that penalized married couples where both spouses worked at the same institution.

  • Despite these restrictions, Elizabeth found ways to collaborate indirectly with her husband Robert through separate but complementary studies. Their 1978 publication examining memory retrieval established an important new finding.

  • The study discovered that retrieving memories boosts their future recall but depresses recall of competing items. This unexpected result laid the groundwork for Robert and Elizabeth's new theory of disuse, which directly challenged Thorndike's dominant theory that forgetting occurs purely due to decay over time.

  • Their theory of disuse proposed that forgetting results not from decay, but from lack of practice retrieving information. Memories are not passively lost, but actively disrupted by new learning that competes for brain resources.

  • Together, Robert and Elizabeth's collaborative work under challenging conditions helped revolutionize understandings of memory formation and forgetting through innovative experiments manipulating retrieval and interference effects.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • 42 Silicon Valley is a free, nonprofit coding school located near Silicon Valley that was established in 2015 by French billionaire Xavier Niel.

  • It uses an unconventional peer-to-peer learning model where students teach each other without traditional instructors. Students advance through rigorous project-based learning at their own pace.

  • Admission is based solely on a coding challenge; no resumes or degrees are considered. This aims to promote diversity and judge students only on their abilities. The school has no teachers, grades, or dorms.

  • Though unusual, graduates have obtained jobs at top tech companies with starting salaries comparable to traditional computer science graduates. The model keeps costs very low at around $3,000 per student versus $50,000 at private for-profit schools.

  • Inspired by its success, other 42 network schools have since opened in several other countries, promoting coding education worldwide through a unique, inclusive peer-learning approach.

    Here is a summary:

  • The passage discusses different perspectives on personalized education approaches, including "inside-out" models that try to automate learning through data-driven instruction, and "outside-in" models that focus on experiential, project-based learning facilitated by teachers.

  • 42 is presented as an example of an outside-in approach, relying on peer-to-peer learning through collaborative coding projects. Students teach each other, growing the school's institutional knowledge base. This model has shown promise at scale.

  • Both inside-out and outside-in approaches now offer potential to expand access to personalized education. Inside-out uses data/AI to customize instruction at scale but risks oversimplifying learning. Outside-in models rely on human facilitators and face challenges scaling cost-effectively.

  • Overall, the author argues both approaches warrant further exploration and have benefits as well as limitations. More research is still needed to determine how best to deliver truly personalized education for all students. The future may involve hybrid models integrating the strengths of different approaches.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • MIT created MicroMasters credential programs by packaging existing online MITx courses to certify knowledge independently of a degree.

  • The first MicroMasters was in Supply Chain Management. It aimed to broaden the applicant pool for the on-campus master's program and improve diversity.

  • Two working professionals, Gisbrecht and Kidambi, enrolled part-time from Germany and India respectively. They found the flexible online format suitable for their careers.

  • Kidambi was able to apply concepts from one course to expand operations at her company.

  • After 16 months, both women earned the MicroMasters credential. They then applied successfully to the on-campus master's program based partly on this credential.

  • The MicroMasters approach proved effective at building upon online learning for career and educational advancement on a global scale.

    Here is a summary of the key points about Edward Thorndike's contributions to educational psychology:

  • Thorndike developed the theory of connectionism, which viewed learning as forming associations between stimuli and responses through practice and repetition.

  • His Law of Effect stated that behaviors followed by satisfaction are more likely to be repeated, influencing the use of rewards and punishments in education.

  • Experiments on animal learning established psychology as a scientific discipline, though his views on intelligence testing and heritability were controversial.

  • Thorndike applied connectionism principles to education, breaking learning into discrete testable elements and advocating for frequent standardized exams.

  • This led schools to adopt scientific management approaches with a focus on measurable outcomes and quantifying performance, shaping the structure of modern American education. Thorndike's theories emphasized measurable learning outcomes over Dewey's progressive ideas.

    Here is a summary:

  • The monitorial school systems developed by Bell and Lancaster in the early 19th century aimed to make basic education more widely accessible through an efficient model using older students to monitor younger ones. This significantly reduced costs compared to the traditional single-teacher model.

  • Their systems spread rapidly as a means to expand schooling, but faced criticism for providing less individual attention and inconsistent teaching quality when overseeing large numbers of students. Disciplinary issues also arose.

  • By the mid-19th century, critics' views had gained more traction and the monitorial systems began declining, with traditional smaller primary schools taught by one teacher becoming more common again. However, the earlier expansion of schooling through this model laid important foundations for later public education systems.

  • Supporters saw the monitorial systems as affordable and practical for expanding access to basic education at the time. Critics argued their methods were not as efficient or effective as claimed, with students receiving lower quality instruction. It addressed the goals of access and affordability but faced pedagogical challenges.

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