TOPIC 4: Social Forces & Student Learning

Thursday July 21th: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm

Moderator: Janice Walters


  • Jennifer Cromley, Professor, Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning, College of Education, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • Mesmin Destin, Associate Professor, Brain, Behavior and Cognition, Northwestern University.

Dr. Cromley will provide a big picture overview of a large body of research about the kinds of things students do while learning and studying – e. g., reading notes, studying with flash cards, remembering what they already know about the topic – with an eye towards what is most effective for different learning situations, STEM disciplines, and topics. Dr. Cromley will highlight the obstacles to students using the most effective strategies, overview principles for effectively teaching these strategies, present a series of cases of effective strategy instruction in undergraduate STEM, and point to a few resources that are freely available.

Dr. Destin will address significant advances in psychological science that have shed insight on how to best support the achievement and well-being of students from a diverse range of backgrounds. The interactive session will review the latest experimental research evidence on the effects of learning environments and strengths-based messages about students’ marginalized identities. Participants will explore how the study findings apply to their own learning contexts and educational practice.


9:009:15Greetings and check-in with Faculty Fellows 
9:3010:15Presentation by Jennifer Cromley
10:3011:15Presentation by Mesmin Destin
11:3012:15Round table discussion with all participants
12:1512:30Wrap up


  • Strategies for effectively scaffolding student learning.
  • Time management and study skills
  • Self-regulation and learning strategies
  • Learning environments and student identities

Key questions:

  1. What can faculty do to include strategies for student learning in the curriculum?
  2. How can faculty incorporate time management and study skills into pedagogy?
  3. How can faculty promote self-regulation and learning strategies?
  4. How might faculty foster students’ understanding of their learning strategies and study skills?
  5. How might faculty shape students’ perceptions of academic and professional resources, and opportunities available to them?
  6. How do various contexts provide messages to students about their backgrounds and identities?
  7. What teaching strategies convey strengths-based messages about students’ backgrounds?

Readings for Topic 4:

Lodewyk Ken R., Winne, Philip H., and Jamieson-Noel, Dianne L. Implications of task structure on self-regulated learning and achievement. Educational Psychology Vol. 29, No. 1, January 2009, 1-25. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.

Friday July 22th: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm

Moderators: Janice Walters and Kelly Rodgers

Pedagogy Workshop:

On Friday Fellows and Team will continue to reflect on Topic 4 and will participate in a pedagogy workshop facilitated by Institute co-directors Walters and Rogers. Small groups will consider resources and imagine how they might incorporate them into their teaching.

Key Questions:

  1. How does student effort combined with learning strategies lead to student success, and how do you incorporate strategic effort into your coursework? Give examples.
  2. How does the use of metacognitive strategies facilitate student learning, and how do you incorporate these in your teaching pedagogy? Give examples.
  3. How might faculty present material to students that will help overcome the limitations of memory capacity? 
  4. What strategies can faculty use to promote active learning among students?
  5. How can we utilize students’ backgrounds and experiences to contextualize and facilitate learning?
  6. How can we provide social connections and support to relieve status uncertainty and belonging among students from low SES communities?
  7. How will you assess the changes you have made to your pedagogy related to academic behaviors and student learning?


9:009:15Greetings and check-in with Faculty Fellows 
9:1510:15Discussing key questions
10:3010:45In small groups, choose 1 change that you can make in your syllabus/course schedule to incorporate different learning strategies.
10:4511:15Discussing syllabi in the large group
11:3012:00In small groups, choose a second change that you can make in your syllabus/course schedule to incorporate different learning strategies.
12:0012:30General discussion/wrapping up

Bring your syllabus. Build in connections in your classrooms. Explicitly embed opportunities for connection with faculty and with students in your syllabus and curriculum. 

Readings for Topic 4:

Destin, Mesmin, Rosario, Josiah R, and Vossoughi, Shirin. Elevating the Objectives of Higher Education to EffectivelyServe Students from Diverse Socioeconomic Backgrounds. In Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8(1). Sage Publishers pp. 59-66.

Pressley, Michael and Harris, Karen R. Theory, Research, Reflection on Teaching and Learning. The Journal of Education. 2008/2009. Vol. 189. No. ½.pp. 77-94.

Silverman, David M., Hernandez, Ivan A, and Destin, Mesmin. Educators’ Beliefs About Students’ Socioeconomic Backgrounds as a Pathway for Supporting Motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. pp.1-18.