Welcome to the blog
A few years ago, I delivered a workshop for trainee Psychology teachers at the Institute of Education in London called Teach Like a Psychologist. In the workshop I talked about some of the ways Psychology has shaped my approach to teaching. I thought I would use this first blog to explain a bit about this psychology informed approach to teaching and learning.
Teaching with Psychology in Mind
I studied a degree in Psychology at UCL back in the 90's, and then later did a PGCE which enabled me to teach Psychology and Maths. Psychology is a huge part of my identity personally and professionally, so it has inevitably become part of my approach to teaching. Most people are surprised when I tell them that Psychology influences my practice when teaching Maths just as much as it does when I am teaching Psychology.
Teaching like a Psychologist
So how do you teach like a Psychologist?
Psychology has been defined as the science of mind and behaviour. By Psychologist I mean someone who has studied how the mind works and can apply this knowledge appropriately. To me, teaching like a “psychologist” means using credible knowledge about the mind and behaviour to inform interactions with learners.
Why? To make learning more effective and efficient.
Where to start?
Thinking and Remembering
A good starting point is to teach help students explore their own cognitive processing systems, such as the mechanisms involved in memory. For example, I talk to students about their working memory. This limited capacity memory component has the potential to act as a bottleneck, blocking the ability to process and store new material, and disrupt the retrieval of material from long-term-memory (LTM). Exploring working memory can be particularly useful for learners who may be struggling in a subject like Maths, where there are often lots of competing demands in a task.
I spend time talking to the A Level Psychology students I work with about how they can best use carefully selected retrieval cues to improve retention and recall. In a content heavy subject, like Psychology, this can be really useful.
Understanding how memory, and other cognitive processing systems work, can help students to take on board sound advice about effective study and revision strategies.
I strongly believe that one of the reasons that I achieved academic success at school is because I have always been curious about how my mind works and what motivates me. I would like to think I might be able to inspire a little curiosity in others by modelling this myself.
There are lots more ways that I use knowledge from Psychology in my teaching, drawing on a range of approaches. Keep reading the blog to find out more as l share these in my future blog posts.
Feeling Cognitively Curious?
I’d love to hear from you if this blog post sparked an idea, a question or encouraged you to be curious and reflect on your own cognitive processing. Get in touch by leaving a comment.