Tuesday, September 16, 2014

University of Cambridge Conference Focused on Practical Implementation

Donna Wilson and I had the extraordinary experience this summer of traveling to Cambridge, England, to make a presentation at the 2014 Conference on Implementation Science, which took place July 28 at the University of Cambridge. We were pleased to have the opportunity to present a paper discussing the practical implementation of our graduate degree program and how it supports the emerging science of learning.

Those who are familiar with our program, which is offered through Nova Southeastern University's Abraham S. Fischler School of Education in Florida, know that it was designed with real-world implementation in mind. Thus, it fit in very well with the theme of the Cambridge conference: "Implementing Implementation Science: The Science of Making Interventions Effective in Real-World Contexts."

Our paper was entitled: Program Designed With Implementation in Mind: Investigating the Impact of Graduate Studies Focused on Applications of the Emerging Science of Learning. In our presentation, we described how the graduate degree program for teachers translates implications from mind, brain, and education research and theories into practical frameworks and strategies so that teachers may better align instruction with research on how students learn.

We shared data suggesting that graduates of the programs were applying strategies to increase student’s metacognitive and cognitive skills and learning achievement. At the same time, new understandings about neuroplasticity have had a positive impact on expectations of students potential to learn.

Our graduate program has been shown to positively affect the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of teachers in the classroom. Teachers who have completed their brain-based teaching degrees credit the program with helping them to increase student engagement and achievement. The analysis of results led us to better understand how some essential "big ideas" can be used as a coherent psychological foundation in teacher education.

Our paper focused on four such ideas: understanding that the structure and function of the brain change in response to learning (known as experience-dependent synaptogenesis), increasing expectations for student learning potential grounded in brain plasticity, dynamic conceptions of intelligence, and the advantages of explicitly teaching metacognition and cognitive strategies.

Implementation science is a new area of scientific, academic, and practitioner interest that focuses on exploring and explaining what makes interventions effective in real-world contexts. The purpose of the Cambridge conference was to give psychology and education practitioners, academic leaders, policy-makers, and stakeholders the opportunity to explore how to implement interventions effectively in education, psychology, and social care contexts.

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