Book Review: Cognitive Science for Educators by Robert G.M. Hausmann, PhD

This book provides the teacher with a smooth entry into the somewhat intimidating world of cognitive science. The strength lies in its intentional brevity. Most chapters can be read in around 5 minutes.

Each chapter is written in language that is accessible for those of us with little knowledge of cognitive science. In addition, each chapter follows the same format.

The Formats

It starts with Learning by Doing. These sections simply give you a chance to apply the chapter’s content before you read (Don’t worry, you can attempt this activity without knowing the cognitive science behind it.)

Then it shifts into the main body of the chapter. Here you are served a good midwestern dinner of meat and potatoes. You are introduced to the concept with everyday examples. Often, he will introduce key terms with definitions and examples and then weave them together, showing you the part and whole. This section is all killer, no filler. 

After introducing the topic, Hausmann writes about the Classroom Connection. This section is important. For teachers, research is no good if we don’t understand how to apply it. He gives us some ideas for application. 

Finally, each chapter ends with a section called Going Beyond the Information Given. This section is simply a fancy name for footnotes. But I like it because he cites his sources and gives some of his own thoughts.

Final Thoughts

I do wish that some of the sections had more detail, especially for the Classroom Connection sections, but, his goal was to write a brief introduction and he certainly succeeded. If you want a good primer on cognitive science, here is a good place to start.

Rating (out of 5):⭐⭐⭐⭐

Cognitive Science for Educators (Amazon Link)

Book Review: Powerful Teaching

This book was written by two powerful educators.
Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D., a cognitive scientist and founder of RetrievalPractice.org
Patrice Bain Ed.S., a veteran K-12 teacher with more than 25 years of teaching middle school social studies.

In chapter one, they introduce “power tools”. These are research backed, classroom proven strategies that lay the foundation of all powerful teaching and then they spend the rest of the book unpacking the how-to’s and implications.

Power Tools

  1. Retrieval Practice
  2. Spacing
  3. Interleaving
  4. Feedback-Driven Metacognition

They translate the research-ese behind each power tool into lived, teacher-friendly examples that go beyond explaining the academic benefits you would expect research based strategies to yield.  For students, the beyond academic benefits are significant. Students who are taught with power tools remember more and get better grades. Importantly, this includes SPED, ADHD, and ESL students. In addition, students taught with these strategies show a decreased level of anxiety. Us teachers benefit from using power tools as well! If you utilize these free strategies, you will be able to spend less time grading, and more time refining your practice.

What’s not to love about this? All students learn more and are less anxious while we spend less time grading. Win-win. And while all of this is super valuable, the best part comes next, where they apply the research to their own classes. 

Powerful Tools in the Classroom

Agarwal, Ph.D. applies each strategy in a university classroom while Bain, Ed.S. applies each strategy in a middle school classroom.

For the busy teacher, this is a goldmine. When you read through this book, you will not have to think too hard about how to use the power tools because the authors have already shown the way. What is important is for you to understand the framework the book develops. Once you understand this, you are ready to rock and roll.

Final Thoughts

Powerful Teaching has had a significant impact on my classroom because it has helped me refine my practice. It has confirmed some things I knew subconsciously, allowing me to move forward with confidence in what I had already been doing. While also surprising me with new information. Helping me “redeem” some of my more ineffective practices. 

This may be the best education book I have ever read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You should buy this book. You will benefit from it.

Rating (out of 5):⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Powerful Teaching (Amazon Link)