Weekly Digest #72: Talk to the Learning Scientists!

Weekly Digest #72: Talk to the Learning Scientists!

There are various ways in which researchers can communicate about their findings with practitioners. There are two broad models of researcher-practitioner communication in education research: the active dissemination model, and the passive dissemination model (1). The passive model involves simply putting information out there for teachers and other educators to find (2). With the Learning Scientists project, on the other hand, we are emphasizing communication with teachers instead of to teachers. A teacher recently stated the following about research: “It [research] is done to us, not for us”. We are trying to get away from this by fostering bi-directional communication between teachers and researchers. So, in this digest, we wanted to highlight some of the ways that you can get in touch with us and start a conversation.

1) Comment on our blog, and look out for our response

If you subscribe to our blog, you should already know that we keep to a strict blogging schedule: Every Monday we release a resource digest, every Wednesday a guest post, and every Friday a post by one of us. (If you don't already subscribe, you can do so here, choosing whether you receive an e-mail when each post is released, or just one per week summarizing the 3 posts). Commenting on the blog is one is the most obvious ways to communicate with us, but it's still worth mentioning in this era of frighteningly awful comment sections. Luckily, so far we have been spared this phenomenon. Instead, we have had some really interesting long-form discussions between teachers and researchers on our blog posts!

For example, our very first blog post on the communication breakdown between research and practice in education generated a fascinating debate about the translation of research into the classroom, and scientists' role as science communicators. Another, more recent example is Megan's post "Does Prompting Students During Retrieval Practice Improve Performance?" where she discusses a scaffolding manipulation that failed to increase the benefits of retrieval practice that she found with the un-prompted version of the task. Various people chimed in with ideas and questions, which Megan promptly answered. One tip: when you post a comment, make sure you subscribe to responses so you get a notification when someone answers! 

2) Check out our FAQ page and ask us another question

We recently developed a mechanism that involves teachers submitting questions through our website. We then answer these questions either personally via e-mail if the question is too specific to be of use to other teachers and students, or publicly on our FAQ page. So far, we have answered 28 questions on the page, and countless more questions over e-mail. Keep them coming! Some of the questions we get are easy to answer, while others require us to find external experts (such as those listed below) to help out. 

3) Join one of our Twitter chats

We've held two Twitter chats so far, under the hashtag #LearnSciChat. These chats have been fast-paced, as we try to ask and answer questions about learning. The format of the chat is that the first half is dedicated to answering pre-selected questions, whereas the second half is a free-for-all where anyone can throw out their own question, and we try to answer them with the help of others in the chat. We get a wonderful mix of teachers, researchers, and even students on these chats! Then, with Storify, we create a summary of each chat:

Click on the image to read the Storify of the First Learning Scientists Twitter Chat (June 14th, 2017)

Click on the image to read the Storify of the First Learning Scientists Twitter Chat (June 14th, 2017)

Click on the image to read the Storify of the Secont Learning Scientists Twitter Chat (July 19th, 2017)

Click on the image to read the Storify of the Secont Learning Scientists Twitter Chat (July 19th, 2017)

Join us on our next chat, which is set to take place on Wednesday 30th August at 9pm UK Time / 4pm Boston Time.

4) Join us on Facebook Live

This month, with funding from the Wellcome Trust, we have started hosting regular virtual workshops (3) with question and answer sessions through the “Facebook Live” video app on the Learning Scientists Facebook page. Our first one was on Friday August 11th, and it was a great success. We had over 500 people tune in at some point during the broadcast, and dozens of questions came flowing in. Watch it below!

Our next Facebook Live is planned for Friday September 4th at 8pm London time / 3pm Eastern Time, and it will be a back-to-school special for parents. To get notified when we go live, all you need to do is Like our Facebook page!

5) Submit a guest post proposal to our blog

We welcome guest posts, and publish one per week. However, we tend to get booked out quite far in advance for guest posts! Right now, for example, we're booking out for October 2017. The general content we look for is evidence-based education, particularly related to cognition: articles about learning, study strategies, or teaching strategies, with an emphasis on research-based recommendations. We also love to hear from teachers about their experiences putting evidence-based recommendations into practice. We also accept guest posts for our weekly digests. These posts are somewhat different in that the topic can go beyond evidence-based practice and can focus more on tools that teachers might use (e.g., we did a digest on websites that are helpful for grading writing). To find out more and submit your proposal, please click below!


(1) Cook, B. G., Cook, L., & Landrum, T. J. (2013). Moving research into practice: Can we make dissemination stick? Exceptional Children79, 163-180.

(2) Dearing, J. W., & Kreuter, M. W. (2010). Designing for diffusion: How can we increase the uptake of cancer communication innovations? Patient Education and Counseling, 81S, S100–S110.

(3) García-García, C., Galán, J., & Izquierdo, R. (2017). Social live streaming tools for the development of virtual workshops. Multidisciplinary Journal for Education, Social and Technological Sciences, 4, 37-51.

Every Sunday, we pick a theme and provide a curated list of links. If you have a theme suggestion, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Occasionally we publish a guest digest, and If you'd like to propose a guest digest click here. Our 5 most recent digests can be found here:

Weekly Digest #67: Dual Coding in the Classroom

Weekly Digest #68: Desirable Difficulties

Weekly Digest #69: Behaviorism in the Classroom

Weekly Digest #70: Teachers’ Implementation of Spaced Practice

Weekly Digest #71: Technology to Help You Create an Active Classroom Environment