From Scientific American:
Most teachers would agree that it is important that students remember much of what they read. Yet one of the most common sights on high school and college campuses across the land is that of students poring over textbooks, yellow marker in hand, highlighting pertinent passages—which often end up including most of the page. Later in the semester, to prepare for their exams, students hit the textbooks again, rereading the yellow blocks of text.
Studies have shown that highlighting and rereading text is among the least effective ways for students to remember the content of what they have read. A far better technique is for students to quiz themselves. In one study, students who read a text once and then tried to recall it on three occasions scored 50 percent higher on exams than students who read the text and then reread it three times. And yet many teachers persist in encouraging—or at least not discouraging—the techniques that science has proved to fall short.
It is easy to argue that teachers ought to do a better job of keeping up with science, but teaching is already a labor-intensive profession. And it is difficult for the nonspecialist to separate scientific research from the usual flood of quackery and pseudoscience. Peddlers of expensive and supposedly research-based nostrums lobby school districts. Other products that may have scientific validity have not yet been thoroughly tested. For example, theories of mathematical learning suggest that linear (but not circular) board games may boost math preparedness in preschoolers, but the idea needs large-scale testing.
How are educators supposed to know which practices to use? An institution that vets research and summarizes it for educators could solve the problem. Medicine provides a precedent. Practicing physicians do not have the time to keep up with the tens of thousands of research articles published annually that might suggest a change in treatment. Instead they rely on reputable summaries of research, published annually, that draw conclusions as to whether the accumulated evidence merits a change in medical practice. Teachers have nothing like these authoritative reviews. They are on their own.
Link to the rest at Scientific American