top of page

Twelve truths about learning

We looked at Stella Vosniadou's research on teaching and learning to pick the following twelve truths about learning. Teachers can embed these truths in their routine teaching and assessment practice to make learning stick. What are those truths?

Truth One

Learning demands active involvement.

Cognitive construction is impossible without the active engagement of the learner. Avoid situations where the students are passive listeners for a long time.

Truth Two

Learning is a social activity.

The brain is social. Therefore, learning sticks better when students collaborate with their peers to learn.

Truth Three

Learning requires cultural relevance.

Our brain finds only culturally relevant concepts and ideas meaningful. Design tasks that have authentic cultural contexts and real-life connections.

Truth Four

Learning is a constructive activity.

New knowledge is constructed based on what is already understood and believed. Great teachers know how to tap into prior knowledge and activate it.

Truth Five

Learning is a formative process.

Learners must know how to plan and monitor their learning and how to correct errors. Design tasks to encourage children to think about their thinking, express their opinions, and defend them.

Truth Six

Learning restructures mental models.

Sometimes prior knowledge can stand in the way of learning something new. Students must learn how to solve internal inconsistencies and restructure existing conceptions when necessary.

Truth Seven

Learning is about making connections.

Learning is better when you organize the material around general principles and explanations rather than memorizing isolated facts and procedures.

Truth Eight

Learning sticks when applied in real life.

Learning becomes more meaningful when tasks allow students to apply the lessons to real-life situations. Design tasks that help students to gain mastery by drawing abstract general principles from concrete examples.

Truth Nine

Learning calls for iterative practice.

Learning is a complex cognitive activity that one cannot rush. It requires considerable time and repeated practice to build expertise in an area.

Truth Ten

Learning is uniquely individualistic.

Children learn best when we respond to their individual and developmental differences. Introduce children to a variety of materials, activities, and learning tasks to address the uniqueness of their brains.

Truth Eleven

Learning depends on internal motivation.

Learner motivation critically influences learning. Recognize student accomplishments and explicitly place high expectations on your students to help them remain motivated.

Truth Twelve

Learning thrives with strategic scaffolding.

Teachers need to gradually fade their assistance and allow students to take greater responsibility for their learning.


Want to work with us to embed these principles into the routine teaching and assessment you promote in your school? Check out Classroom Shapeshift, our revolutionary school improvement and teacher development intervention. We can support your school to embed these principles across the classrooms in your school through Classroom Shapeshift.


bottom of page