Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 01/05/2013 06:14 | By Channel NewsAsia

Cognitive science can help educators design better lessons: Education Minister

Cognitive science can help educators design better lessons: Education Minister


Cognitive science can help educators design better lessons: Education Minister

SINGAPORE : Cognitive science, which is the study of the mind, could become an increasingly important area of research for the Education Ministry.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said understanding why different students learn differently would help educators come up with better ways to help them.

What makes some dyslexic children progress better in learning to read than other dyslexic children? The answer could lie in cognitive science, an interdisciplinary field that studies how the mind works.

Mr Heng said cognitive science can help educators design better lessons.

He said: "Understanding students’ individual cognitive differences is a new frontier to better devise strategies for teaching and learning.

"If we can grasp the many dimensions that make our students unique and different — be it differences in experience, behaviour or cognition — it will enable us to better help individual students learn."

Mr Heng said cognitive science can help educators understand the learning abilities of young children. An example would be the optimal age to develop abilities in areas like arts and sports, and in Singapore’s case, how young children can master two languages or more.

But the Education Minister said that brain scientists and teachers need to work together to have a significant impact in the classrooms.

He said: "Educators and scientists must be able to ’cross—over’, that is, work alongside and with each other to hold conversations to learn each others’ paradigms and methods, and to engage in joint problem solving.

"From these conversations, new questions about teaching and learning will arise, and new answers and insights can be explored and subsequently tested out for efficacy."

At the two—day CogSci Connects conference, participants will explore a variety topics, such as visual perception and how music influences learning.

Most of the 700 participants are students.

Tara Venkatesan, founder—convener of CogSci Connects, said: "The idea of the conference is really not meant to be a technical conference, it is not meant for experts. There are enough of those technical conferences for researchers.

"This is a conference about exciting people and young people specifically, because that is the future of interdisciplinary learning in Singapore and in Asia for that matter."

The conference is the first—of—its—kind in Asia that is organised by students.

— CNA/ms

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