Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Scienceof Learning
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Employ cognitive theory in the classroom every day

Research into how we learn has opened the door for utilizing cognitive theory to facilitate better student learning. But that's easier said than done. Many books about cognitive theory introduce radical but impractical theories, failing to make the connection to the classroom. In Small Teaching, James Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with a series of modest but powerful changes that make a big difference—many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These strategies are designed to bridge the chasm between primary research and the classroom environment in a way that can be implemented by any faculty in any discipline, and even integrated into pre-existing teaching techniques. Learn, for example:

  • How does one become good at retrieving knowledge from memory?
  • How does making predictions now help us learn in the future?
  • How do instructors instill fixed or growth mindsets in their students?

Each chapter introduces a basic concept in cognitive theory, explains when and how it should be employed, and provides firm examples of how the intervention has been or could be used in a variety of disciplines. Small teaching techniques include brief classroom or online learning activities, one-time interventions, and small modifications in course design or communication with students.


JAMES M. LANG is director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. He is the author of On Course: A Week- by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching and Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty as well as a monthly column for The Chronicle of Higher Education. His website is


Acknowledgments ix

About the Author xi

Introduction: Small Teaching 1

Part I Knowledge

1 Retrieving 19

2 Predicting 41

3 Interleaving 63

Part II Understanding

4 Connecting 91

5 Practicing 113

6 Self-Explaining 137

Part III Inspiration

7 Motivating 167

8 Growing 195

9 Expanding 219

Conclusion: Beginning 243

Works Cited 247

Index 253