How Learning Works

A Workshop with Dr. Susan Ambrose of Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 from 8:15 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center

Session 1, 8:30-10:15 a.m.

  • How Does Prior Knowledge Affect Learning? We will discuss strategies instructors can use to glean students' prior knowledge so that we can help them identify and fill gaps and apply what they know appropriately.
  • How Does the Way Students Organize Knowledge Affect Their Learning? Instructors can help students organize knowledge in more connected and meaningful ways, thus better supporting learning and performance. We will discuss how to help students learn to organize information effectively.

Session 2, 10:30-12:15 p.m.

  • What Motivates Students to Learn? In this interactive session, we will discuss theories of motivation and how they apply to teaching, exploring a range of strategies to engage students more fully in learning.
  • How Do Students Develop Mastery? We will explore why expertise can be a liability as well as an advantage in teaching, and discuss strategies for (1) decomposing complex tasks to build students' skills, (2) helping students integrate skills, (3) helping students learn to apply those skills.

Lunch, 12:15-1:15 p.m.

Session 3, 1:15-3:00 p.m.

  • What Kinds of Practice and Feedback Enhance Learning? We will discuss key features that make practice and feedback most effective, as well as some efficient strategies for incorporating them into your teaching.
  • Why Do Student Development and Course Climate Matter for Student Learning? We will introduce relevant theories of students' social, emotional, and intellectual development, discuss their implications for teaching, and brainstorm strategies for our own classrooms.

Session 4, 3:15-4:15 p.m.

  • How Do Students Become Self-directed Learners? We will review research on students' common difficulties with becoming effective, independent learners, and discuss strategies for helping students develop the skills they need to succeed in college and beyond.

Reception, 4:15-5:00 p.m.

Professor Ambrose, Associate Provost for Education, Professor of History and Director of the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University, is the author of How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. The book "helps to explain why certain teaching approaches do or do not support student learning and provides faculty with a framework for generating effective approaches and strategies in their own teaching contexts." For more information on Professor Ambrose, please see:

Sponsored by the Faculty Development Committee and the Dean for Academic Affairs