How Learning Happens introduces 32 giants of educational research and their findings on how we learn and what we need to know 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.

Now updated to include a new section on Memory and Cognition with five new chapters, this revised second edition explores a selection of the key works on learning and teaching, chosen from the fields of educational psychology and cognitive psychology. It offers a roadmap of the most important discoveries in the way learning happens, with each chapter examining a different work and explaining its significance before describing the research, its implications for practice, and how it can be used in the classroom – including the key takeaways for teachers.

Clearly divided into seven sections, the book covers:

  • Memory and cognition
  • How the brain works
  • Prerequisites for learning
  • How learning can be supported
  • Teacher activities
  • Learning in context
  • Cautionary tales

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 I|58 pages

Memory and Cognition

chapter 1|12 pages

Working memory

How Deep is the well?

chapter 2|12 pages

Opening the black box

The Brain Rediscovered

chapter 3|10 pages

Ah, yes, I remember it well

Episodic and Semantic Memory

chapter 4|12 pages

“What you know, you know”

Bartlett's Schema Theory

chapter 5|10 pages

Do You Know What You Know? Metacognition

part II|54 pages

How Does Our Brain Work?

chapter 6|10 pages

A Novice is not a Little Expert

Novices and Experts

chapter 7|10 pages

Take a Load off me

Problem Solving

chapter 8|14 pages

Dancing in the Dark

Skill Acquisition

chapter 9|8 pages

An evolutionary view of Learning

Evolutionary Psychology

chapter 10|10 pages

One picture and one thousand words

Dual Coding

part III|64 pages

Prerequisites for Learning

chapter 11|12 pages

What You Know Determines What You Learn

Advance Organisers

chapter 13|10 pages

Beliefs about intelligence can affect intelligence


chapter 14|12 pages

… Thinking Makes It So


chapter 16|10 pages

Where are we going and how do we get there?

Goal Orientation

part IV|42 pages

Which Learning Activities Support Learning

chapter 17|10 pages

Why scaffolding is not as easy as it looks


chapter 18|12 pages

The holy grail

One-to-One Tutoring Whole class Teaching and one-to-one Tutoring

chapter 19|8 pages


How to find a needle in a Haystack

chapter 20|10 pages

Activities that give birth to learning

Mathemagenic Activities

part V|66 pages

The teacher

chapter 21|10 pages

Zooming out to zoom in

Elaboration theory of instruction

chapter 22|10 pages

Why discovery learning is a bad way to discover things

Discovery Learning

chapter 23|12 pages

Direct instruction

Direct Instruction

chapter 24|10 pages

Assessment for, not of learning

Assessment for Learning

chapter 25|10 pages

Feed up, feedback, feed forward


chapter 26|12 pages

Learning techniques that really work

Learning Techniques

part VI|44 pages

Learning in context

chapter 27|12 pages

Why context is everything


chapter 28|10 pages

The culture of learning

Culture of Learning

chapter 29|10 pages

Making things visible

Making Things Visible

chapter 30|10 pages

It takes a community to save $100 million

Communities of Practice

part VII|62 pages

Cautionary tales

chapter 31|10 pages

Did you hear the one about the kinaesthetic learner …?

Urban Legends

chapter 32|10 pages

When teaching kills learning

What doesn't Work

chapter 33|12 pages

The medium is NOT the message

Medium not the Message

chapter 34|12 pages

The ten deadly sins in education

Ten Deadly Sins

chapter 35|16 pages

Lethal Mutations

The Dirty Dozen