The Daily Cardinal sat down with UW–Madison’s Mitchell Nathan recently for a conversation about his research, effective teaching, and study techniques.
Nathan, a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the School of Education’s top-ranked Department of Educational Psychology, studies students and how they learn. He also studies how teachers structure learning experiences for students.
“A unique quality of my work is that I don’t only look at how people think in their heads if you will, but I consider the body as part of the cognitive system,” Nathan tells the Daily Cardinal. His research has found that so-called “embodied learning and teaching,” where students are encouraged to use their bodies when thinking about and explaining new ideas, helps students to learn and teachers to assess student learning.
Nathan also offers advice on the best and worst ways for students to study effectively. Instead of the common strategy of highlighting, Nathan says, a much better study technique is “self testing,” such as by developing a “Quizlet” or flashcards.
“What these techniques do is practice the retrieval of information when you need it,” Nathan says. “By taking practice tests that skill of retrieving the information when it’s appropriate is being practiced.”
Read the Daily Cardinal Q&A with Nathan.