The purpose of this course is to explore the behavioral and cognitive processes involved in learning, memory, and problem solving. Specific objectives include a deeper understanding of individual differences in ability, the role of genetic and environmental influences, brain mechanisms, and how the principles of learning, memory, and problem solving can be applied to education and everyday life. Among those applications will be eyewitness testimony, memory improvement, challenges of aging, brain injuries, and accident prevention. Due to the unique nature of the Semester at Sea Program, and the focus on educational issues in our field work, we will give special attention to cross-cultural perspectives on learning and memory throughout the semester. This will include a comparative examination of the educational systems of several countries we will be visiting during our voyage.
Our field lab will involve a visit to the National Institute of Education and to a nearby school. The purpose of the field lab will be to supplement our examination of educational practices and outcomes in various countries throughout the world. Singapore was selected because of its excellent educational system, one in which teachers are highly qualified and well-respected. We seek to learn more about teacher training, how it affects educational practices in the schools, and what accounts for the impressive performance of Singapore students on international exams. The field lab will be part of a comprehensive study of how the principles of learning, memory, and problems solving have been applied to educational practices. By the time we visit the Institute, you will have read and discussed the book by UVA’s Dan Willingham which applies the principles of cognition to the classroom, watched and discussed an excellent documentary by journalist Fareed Zakaria which examines educational practices and outcomes among the highest performing countries in the world, and studied Sal Kahn’s proposals for reforming education in the U.S. and elsewhere. You will be required to submit a 5-7 page paper in which you use the principles we studied and the things we observed to propose changes in our educational system.
- A deeper understanding of teacher training and educational practices in other countries.
- An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of educational practices in the U.S.
- Development of an educational system based upon the principles of learning, memory, and problem solving.