Science, Art, and ALEKS: How The Science of Learning Empowers the Art of Teaching


The art of teaching and the science of learning work together in the same way that both creative and intellectual development drive achievement: students can’t learn unless they embrace their interests and passions while simultaneously engaging in critical thinking and active problem solving. Likewise, teachers can’t make the very most of every learning moment unless they combine their creative and emotional intuition with research-based, purposeful technology. It’s a pedagogical and technological practice that will empower students to perform and encourages them to engage in a similar practice in their own learning journeys.

Innovative instructional programs like ALEKS use learning science technology to empower the art of teaching. ALEKS is a research-based, online math program. Using an adaptive, diagnostic assessment, ALEKS identifies each student’s current knowledge gaps to deliver personalized instruction on topics the student is most ready to learn.  Through a continuous cycle of learning and assessment, ALEKS improves content mastery and retention. By arming educators with such deliberate, adaptive, and efficient technological tools, ALEKS delivers the very best of the science of learning: it empowers teachers on two levels. First, its powerful Artificial Intelligence engine and rigorous learning and assessment cycle enable teachers to drive thorough mastery of content and outstanding student outcomes. However, ALEKS also gives them the time, freedom, and opportunity to foster peer-to-peer collaboration between students and to take advantage of creativity in learning moments. In the hands of passionate and dedicated educators, ALEKS is the key to striking harmony between the science of learning and the art of teaching.

ALEKS truly exemplifies the phrase the science of learning. The program was built on the philosophy that learning opportunities can be harnessed, analyzed, and maximized based on systematic processes rooted in scientific research. All educators know that each moment spent in the classroom is precious: time is limited, and for many students, the experiences and outcomes that result from their education can literally change the course of their entire lives. Understanding and utilizing the science of learning is about ensuring that not one moment of potential student engagement goes to waste: it addresses the individual needs of every learner and reassesses comprehension until mastery is evident. ALEKS uses science to target learning gaps with built-in remediation, and promotes critical thinking by providing an open-response environment and avoiding multiple choice. It has a toolbox full of teacher components, too: ALEKS’s math curriculum is aligned with Common Core and state standards, and comes equipped with real-time reporting, which provides visibility to topics needed for classroom review. ALEKS is a classroom model of using logic, evidence, and scientific research to inform decisions. It empowers both students and teachers to reach new heights in educational achievement.

While ALEKS provides the “learning science” half of the educational equation, it still works actively to serve the “art of teaching”: by providing purposeful and personalized instruction, ALEKS frees up teachers to access the creative aspects of their profession, to explore unforeseen opportunities as they arise, and to focus on student collaboration. Before adaptive, personalized learning technology, teachers spent a great deal of their classroom time attempting to reach learners at the largely varying stages in their personal learning journeys. They did their best, trying to challenge the advanced (and sometimes bored) students and simultaneously working tirelessly to help the struggling ones to catch up, while still addressing all those in between. But with tools like ALEKS that utilize the science of learning to drive comprehension at any level, teachers now have enough time and freedom to really flourish as mentors in the artistic, the creative, and the emotional. They can capitalize on those vital moments when a student asks a question that peaks the interest of other students, and leads to an investigative learning experience for the entire class. Now, they can focus their energy on the social, emotional, and collaborative learning that’s happening in small group instruction or projects. They can step in when students need a teacher’s personal touch to make it through a tough topic, and they can guide advanced students in discovering the next step in their intellectual path. The science of learning allows teachers to embrace their profession for what it truly is: an art.

To hear more about how educational technology uses the Science of Learning to leverage the Art of Teaching, hear from McGraw-Hill School President, Chris Willig:

To discover the program that embodies the science of learning and empowers the art of teaching, check out  ALEKS®, the web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that’s driving exceptional outcomes across the country.

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Posts from the McGraw-Hill Education Social Media & Content team.

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