Cover Image
close this bookHow Children Learn (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 32 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe International Academy of Education
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. Active involvement
View the document2. Social participation
View the document3. Meaningful activities
View the document4. Relating new information to prior knowledge
View the document5. Being strategic
View the document6. Engaging in self-regulation and being reflective
View the document7. Restructuring prior knowledge
View the document8. Aiming towards understanding rather than memorization
View the document9. Helping students learn to transfer
View the document10. Taking time to practice
View the document11. Developmental and individual differences
View the document12. Creating motivated learners
View the documentReferences and further reading
View the documentThe International Bureau of Education - IBE


The psychological principles described in this booklet summarize some of the important results of recent research on learning that is relevant for education. They attempt to integrate research coming from diverse areas of psychology, including educational, developmental, cognitive, social and clinical psychology. This research has offered us new insights into the learning process and the development of knowledge in many subject-matter areas. As a result, curricula and instruction are changing in schools today. They are attempting to become more student-centred than teacher-centred, to connect the school to real-life situations, and to focus on understanding and thinking rather than on memorization, drill and practice.

Although each principle is explained on its own, all twelve principles are best understood as an organized whole with one supporting the others. As a whole, these principles are meant to provide a comprehensive framework for the design of curricula and of instruction. Indeed, they are found behind a number of innovative programmes in schools across the world today.

We begin with a discussion of three principles that are widely recognized as forming the basis on which teachers should design the learning environments of today's schools; namely, learning environments that encourage students to be active learners, to collaborate with other students, and to use meaningful tasks and authentic materials. We continue with seven principles that focus on cognitive factors that are primarily internal, but also interact with environmental factors in important ways. Teachers need to take these principles into consideration in order to design more effective curricula and instruction. We end with a discussion of developmental and individual differences, and with motivational influences on learning. These last two areas are very important for learning and instruction, and - to be treated adequately - deserve to become independent booklets.

We have not dealt with a subject that is becoming very important in the schools of today - the use of information and communication technology to support learning. We have not done so because this area is too vast and we believe that a special booklet needs to be devoted to it.

In discussing each principle, we start by presenting a summary of the research findings and then continue describing the implications for teaching that follow from them. At the end of the booklet there is a list of references and suggested readings that provide further information on the principles that have been discussed.