How Learning Happens introduces 28 giants of educational research and their findings on how we learn and what we need to learn effectively, efficiently, and enjoyably. Many of these works have inspired researchers and teachers all around the world and have left a mark on how we teach today.

Exploring 28 key works on learning and teaching, chosen from the fields of educational psychology and cognitive psychology, the book offers a roadmap of the most important discoveries in how learning happens. Each chapter examines a different work and explains its significance before describing the research, its implications for practice, how it can be used in the classroom and the key takeaways for teachers. Clearly divided into six sections, the book covers:

  • How the brain works and what this means for learning and teaching
  • Prerequisites for learning
  • How learning can be supported
  • Teacher activities
  • Learning in context
  • Cautionary tales and the ten deadly sins of education.

Written by two leading experts and illustrated by Oliver Caviglioli, this is essential reading for teachers wanting to fully engage with and understand educational research as well as undergraduate students in the fields of education, educational psychology and the learning sciences.



part 1|50 pages

How does our brain work?

chapter 1|9 pages

A novice is not a little expert

Novices and Experts

chapter 2|8 pages

Take a load off me

Problem Solving

chapter 3|9 pages

How deep is your processing?

Depth of Processing

chapter 4|8 pages

An evolutionary view of learning

Evolutionary Psychology

chapter 5|10 pages

One picture and one thousand words

Dual Coding

part II|63 pages

Prerequisites for learning

part III|38 pages

Which learning activities support learning

chapter 12|7 pages

Why scaffolding is not as easy as it looks

chapter 13|9 pages

The holy grail

Whole class teaching and one-to-one tutoring

chapter 14|6 pages


How to find a needle in a haystack

chapter 15|9 pages

Activities that give birth to learning

Mathemagenic Activities

part IV|66 pages

The teacher

chapter 16|9 pages

Zooming out to zoom in

chapter 18|10 pages

Direct instruction

chapter 19|8 pages

Assessment for, not of learning

Assessment for Learning

chapter 20|8 pages

Feed up, feedback, feed forward

chapter 21|11 pages

Learning techniques that really work

Learning Techniques

part V|42 pages

Learning in context

chapter 22|9 pages

Why context is everything


chapter 23|9 pages

The culture of learning

Culture of Learning

chapter 24|9 pages

Making things visible

Making Things Visible

chapter 25|9 pages

It takes a community to save $100 million

Communities of Practice

part VI|45 pages

Cautionary tales

chapter 26|9 pages

Did you hear the one about the kinaesthetic learner … ?

Urban Legends

chapter 27|8 pages

When teaching kills learning

What doesn’t Work

chapter 28|10 pages

The medium is NOT the message

Medium not the Message

chapter 29|10 pages

The ten deadly sins in education

Ten Deadly Sins