[MUSIC, Title: "How to Reach and Teach Both Procedural and Declarative Pathways"] [Barb] Alrighty, on this side we have "Team Declarative." And on this side, we have "Team Procedural." Two contenders, both vying for the trophy of learning. The question is, what strategy does each team use? To keep score, you can add each method we'll be describing to your foldable from the last video. [Beth] Hold on Barb! I think we need to slow down and get a little more serious, at least momentarily. It seems the best strategy we teachers can use for declarative learning is explicit instruction. That is, providing explanations. These explanations can come from a book, a video, or your own face-to-face or online presentation. [Barb] That's right! For example, regular Spanish verbs follow a specific pattern of conjugation, depending on whether they end in -ar, -er or -ir. For most people, figuring those rules out on their own as an adult would take a very long time. But if the rules are explained, you can start speaking correctly sooner. The drawback is, because these rules have been learned with the DECLARATIVE system, you speak much more slowly until you've had plenty of practice to also establish links as well in the PROCEDURAL system. [Beth] In English, we generally explain spelling rules like those involving the difference between "there," "their," and "they're." In math, you might teach students to use the PEMDAS acronym. Of course, equations and relationships like the Pythagorean theorem would take tremendous insight for a student to be able to figure out on their own. That's why we often provide declarative explanations of these relationships. For procedural learning, you might think that "no explanation" is good. That is, letting students figure things out on their own. After all, that's how toddlers learn to speak their native language. The problem is that even as students' declarative learning skills improve with age, their procedural learning skills diminish. Research has shown that just turning students loose with materials to figure things out on their own is less effective than mixing explicit instruction with active practice and exploration. In other words, using direct instruction. After all, by the time students are old enough to find the PEMDAS acronym helpful in math, or to learn language rules and memory tricks, or to use the Pythagorean equation, it would slow learning down tremendously to ask students to deduce these patterns by themselves. That is, unless they might have the math skills of Euclid or the language ability of a distinguished polyglot. What works instead in students who are old enough to understand declarative explanations is to provide explanations as necessary and then allow them to do varied practice with the materials. Yes, they can figure some things out as they practice. But you want to be careful to break the new learning materials up into small enough chunks that those with lesser capacity working memory can stay with you. [Barb] Interestingly, rapid feedback provides those ready dollops of dopamine that help students learn more quickly and efficiently with the procedural systems. This is part of why language learning by being immersed amongst native speakers can be so helpful in learning a language more rapidly. You get instant feedback about whether someone understands you or not. [Beth] This is why multiplication games where students answer as many problems correctly in a minute as they can are so effective. When students continually practice to increase their scores, they are getting the practice they need to answer multiplication problems PROCEDURALLY. And they get that extra squirt of dopamine that motivates them to practice even more. As you'll see later, gamified learning can allow students to practice well procedurally without you having to monitor and coach their every move. A DELAY in feedback, on the other hand, can enhance declarative learning. Delays in feedback might occur when a student says something in class, but you delay providing feedback about whether the answer is right or wrong until the whole class has answered. Or a student turns in a worksheet and has to wait a day or two to get the graded sheets back. The delay in feedback works [for declarative learning], however, only if you make sure your students actually read your feedback and understand, then practice the corrections to their work. We all know how students are excited to see how they did, but not necessarily what they need to do next time to relearn it better. How can you make sure your students actually read and understand your feedback? After you have a stack of papers graded, but before you hand them back, select a paper that has some typical errors. Show it on the side to the author and ask if it might be all right to review the paper together with the class to help everyone learn from it. In our experience, everyone always agrees, but in the event of a rare "no," of course, just try again with another paper. Then project the paper— without showing the grade—so that the class can see it. Announce that John or Jane—or whoever the author is—is a superstar because they volunteered to have their paper reviewed for the class as a learning experience. Quickly go through each error in an upbeat way, pointing out how common misusing "its" instead of "it's" is. Or whatever the error is. And of course, find good things to comment on as well. Make sure you do this exercise BEFORE handing the rest of the papers back to the class. Basically, you are giving students a preliminary coaching of what to look for when they receive their own paper. Doing one or two examples like this each time you return an assignment works wonders in improving the quality of future works. Students learn from the other kids' mistakes and corrections. Students also learn and are motivated by examining high-performance examples. This means it can be good to showcase exceptional work as well, and then ask students what they would do to their own work to improve their submission. Allowing yourself a day or two to assess assignments takes the pressure off us teachers, too. After all, it can be super hard to keep up with grading and returning feedback to students in a timely manner when you have a 150 papers or more to grade and give comments on. It can also be helpful on some assignments, instead of giving any corrective feedback, to circle spots where the errors are and have students fix them. Then re-examine them. [Terry] This is where advances in artificial intelligence, which give rapid personal feedback to the student while reducing the teacher's workloads, will be a wonderful educational advancement. A solid foundation for learning both declaratively and procedurally involves spaced repetition and its related technique, retrieval practice. The more often you repeat an activity and even just repeat a thought, the easier it becomes for the pattern recognition system in your cortex to say "This is happening too darned often. Let's turn it over to our gang of basal plants— the basal ganglia procedural system—so that we don't have to be involved in all the dreadful details anymore." Interestingly, dopamine allows both procedural and declarative pathways to learn how to work together SIMULTANEOUSLY. Dopamine can do even more than simply strengthen neural connections. It can help the two main learning systems to simultaneously strengthen neural connections, working together. Likewise, exercise is like a double door-opener, allowing both declarative and procedural learning to take place simultaneously. [Barb] But there is one last approach related to spaced repetition and retrieval practice that can be of special value in boosting procedural learning. That's the idea of interleaving. We talked about interleaving in our previous course. It's that form of learning where you start to mix closely related concepts up once students have gotten a quick sense of things. An example might involve calculations of perimeter, area, and volume. Instead of doing a dozen of each type of problem before moving on to the next type, as soon as they have the main idea, you start mixing the problems up. This is much more like the kinds of random problems you might give a student on a final exam. Or like the random types of problems people encounter in real life. Interleaving allows a student to learn the patterns and nuances that distinguish between closely related concepts. It's a way of concentrating practice so that the procedural system can more quickly learn what it's best at learning. This also means that you need to take care with interleaving. As Daisy Christodoulou, author of "Seven Myths About Education," observes: "A colleague of mine, who works with a lot of science teachers, recently told me that he's very worried about the recent popularity of interleaving in English classrooms. He says he sees a lot of lessons where students are being bombarded with a lot of different questions about concepts they don't fully understand, and when you ask the teacher what they're trying to accomplish, they say "interleaving." Remember, interleaving is meant to help students learn to differentiate between closely-related concepts that students could confuse. Or that they need to grow comfortable in using in a variety of contexts. Interleaving questions about the differences between bird species is a good idea. Interleaving questions about the differences between a bird and the rule of capitalisation for words is NOT a good idea. [Beth] One last approach which seems to develop procedural learning is called "concept attainment." Here you present both examples and non-examples of the concept. Your students then figure out the common attributes of the concept and generate a potential definition. After you provide a few more examples, students can test their hypothesis and solidify their definition. This is a way for you to carefully, and relatively quickly, allow students' procedural systems to begin to deduce the patterns underlying what you are teaching. Let's say you want to teach students the difference between nouns and verbs. You would first present your students with a series of "yes" and "no" examples of the concept. For example, "cow"—No. "Jump"—Yes. "Talk"— Yes. "Hair"— No. "House"— No. "Bake"—Yes. Then you would ask, what do all the "Yes's" have in common? How are they different from the "No's"? Have your students generate a list of key attributes and develop a theory. Then ask your students to give you words to test out the theory. You will answer "Yes" or "No." When a student or a small group of students feels confident that they have a handle on the concept, you can call on them to share. Hopefully, students are beginning to notice that some words involve action and some are just things. Bam! We have a lesson on verbs! Concept attainment can be geared up to teach even more complex concepts, such as rational versus irrational numbers or organic versus inorganic compounds. So here we have it—a list of different teaching methods we encourage you to use to enhance student learning via the two neural pathways. [Barb] How well did you do at the end of the last video in guessing what these methods were? [Beth] In any case, you've got a sense now that the procedural system can be very important when it comes to certain classroom activities. Whether those activities involve humdrum everyday actions or actions to be taken in dangerous situations. [Beth] I'm Beth Rogowsky. [Barb] I'm Barb Oakley. [Terry] I'm Terry Sejnowski. [All] Learn it, link it, let's do it!