Three Important Conversations About Learning Science and Equity in Education Today

Published March 15, 2018

Education leaders discuss insights from new research projects, how to improve classroom teaching practices, and how schools can achieve equity for all learners.

Learning Science Stage at SXSW EDU 2018

No two students’ educational paths are identical. Factors like classroom practices, access to learning opportunities, family background, and personal learning preferences shape and define the education experience for each individual. In response to increasingly diverse student populations, educators today are challenged to provide academic experiences that are both consistently high-quality and infinitely variable.

By combining the lessons of learning science with insights from educators in the field, we can gain a deep understanding of what makes instruction effective and how students truly learn best. This knowledge can be incorporated into curriculum design, teaching models, and learning tools to help all students achieve their full potential.

This year at SXSW EDU we invited experts and educators from different fields of learning science to speak at live panels in our Learning Lab. Here are some of the key takeaways and insights. 

Learning Science in the Wild

Learning scientists share their research projects and explain how educators can implement the findings in the classroom. Featuring Christine Gouveia, VP of Applied Learning Science with Tanya Joosten of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“At the end of the day, what we are learning is it’s not about the technology per-se – the technology cannot equate to a pill. It’s about the social effects around the technology. So, how did the instructor introduce it to the students? How did the students learn how to use it? Did the instructor even fit it in to their pedagogical model? Did all the instructors know how to do this effectively, or were they shooting in the dark?” | Professor Tanya Joosten of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Three Ways Education Leaders Are Thinking About Equity

Leaders in K-12 and Higher Education explain what is needed to provide equitable learning opportunities for students of all backgrounds. Featuring Heath Morrison, President of McGraw-Hill School Group with Pedro Martinez of San Antonio ISD, Lou Pugliese of Arizona St. University, and Bill de la Cruz of Denver Public Schools.

“When I’m working with learners and teachers the first thing I have to do is shape their mindset. And it doesn’t cost money to change their mind, it’s getting people to realize that, just because that’s a white teacher and that’s a black student, doesn’t mean that you need to buy into the stereotypical messages that you’ve heard about that group of folks and then treat them that way.” | Bill de la Cruz, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools

Learning Science: Becoming a Better Learner

Researchers share data-driven evidence and tips on how we can improve learning – from practicing better to getting grittier. Featuring Amanda Stedke, VP of Intervention of Acceleration with Melina Uncapher of UC San Francisco, and Christina Gouveia, VP of Applied Learning Sciences.

10 Key Practices: Practical Applications of the Science of Learning
Courtesy of Dr. Melina Uncapher of UC San Francisco – click to learn more (PDF document).

  1. Don’t make learning easy! (‘Desirable Difficulties’)
  2. Retrieval strengthens learning. (‘Retrieval Practice’)
  3. Spacing out learning strengthens learning. (‘Spaced Practice’)
  4. Don’t suppress the social brain – use it! (‘Social Learning’)
  5. Teach with the end in mind. (‘Interleaved Learning’)
  6. Reframe failure. (‘Failure as Fodder’)
  7. Keep them at the edge of their mastery. (‘Leveling-Up’)
  8. Be transparent about why difficulties are necessary. (‘Learning Mindset’)
  9. Don’t forget about exercise, sleep, and music! (‘Non-Cognitive Support’)
  10. Ineffective learning techniques: Highlighting and Re-reading.

See how learning science is guiding our mission to help all students achieve their full potential at