Great Teaching is at the Heart of Learning: The Science to Prove It

Q&A with Dr. Christine Gouveia, Vice President of Applied Learning Sciences

At McGraw-Hill Education, we believe that in an age where technology, culture, and knowledge meet, it is our job to put them into context within our learning ecosystem. Purposeful technology is the force that enables us to move smoothly with less effort and should feel like the right tool, at the right time, for the right purpose.

We had the pleasure of co-hosting a webinar with Turnitin on how combining the science of learning with purposeful technology can enhance teaching and improve learning outcomes. Since we were unable to get to all of your questions during the webinar, we sat down with Dr. Christine Gouveia to get the answers to your questions.


Can you speak to technology enhancing and supporting the teacher, not replacing?

Great question!

In educational technology, especially, we cannot think of technology the way we might in, say, a factory — where robots can replace humans in tasks such as packaging a product or building a circuit.

Educational technology may sometimes be used to substitute for one-on-one instruction (thus the increased interest in adaptive technologies). However, this technology is only as good as a) its content, b) its intended use, c) its implementation. In blended environments, the most effective teaching integrates technology purposefully, at the moments and in the ways that can provide the optimal impact on student outcomes.

What happens when students don’t have access to technology in the classroom?

This is a very important question, with no easy or obvious answer. The “digital divide” has remained an equity issue since digital technologies first began to be used in the classroom. Two recent articles in the New York Times provide an excellent overview of this topic:

  1. Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind
  2. The Challenges of Closing the Digital Divide

There are efforts throughout the country to bridge this divide, and teachers have been very creative! To learn more, I suggest starting here:

  1. Bridging the Digital Divide: A Forum on Using Technology in Early Childhood Education

Suggestions for dealing with students who use the internet as a substitute for reading texts or deeper thought on assignments?

This may be a question of mindset, both for you as an educator and for your students as learners. Remember that books (and too much reading!) themselves were once considered dangerous substitutes for deeper thought!

The Internet is neither bad nor good for students, nor does it necessarily serve as a substitute for reading text or thinking deeply. It is simply a portal to other forms of media that can, in fact, promote exactly the sort of deep learning and transfer that we desire in a learning space.

However, both educators and students must be thoughtful, purposeful consumers of what is available online. SAMR is one great tool to begin evaluating these online resources, and there are many other guidelines and resources available to help choose wisely.

Common Sense Media is a great place to get started!

We talked about evidence in learning. Is there a body of research that informs us that technology is working to improve learning?

Indeed there is! In fact, for nearly every technology you can think of (including emerging technologies such as virtual reality) there has been extensive research to evaluate the impact of that technology on learning. The body of research available on this subject is too vast to include here, but we highly recommend reading the Horizon Reports for an introduction of educational technology research.

This report by the U.S. Department of Education also offers a helpful summary of some existing research.

How much are practicing educators involved in technology design and development?

We have found that the answer to this varies widely, not just from institution to institution, but even within a single grade level in a single school. At McGraw-Hill Education, we strive to not only listen to and research the needs of practicing educators, but directly involve them in design and development.

Nationally, there is a growing body of “digital hubs” or “innovation clusters,” which are organizations specifically designed to bring together educators, researchers, and developers, e.g. izone. Similarly, there has been an increase in funding opportunities to support the generation and maintenance of these clusters.

To learn more about efforts for bringing together networks committed to these efforts, visit Digital Promise.

Has interdisciplinary alignment been an issue with working with the SAMR model?

The SAMR model can be applied to technology in all disciplines, and in fact may assist educators in thinking about how technology may enhance interdisciplinary alignment. So in fact, it is quite the reverse! By deeply evaluating how teaching and technology may mesh, connections between disciplines may become more obvious than before.

For an example of an interdisciplinary, purposeful use of technology that explore complex topics fully online or in blended environments, visit the Big History Project.

How does evaluation figure into the SAMR model?

SAMR is meant to serve as a framework for evaluating the integration of technology into learning activities. While it is not specific to assessments, it can also be used to examine assessment activities. For example, a digital science lab may redefine how we assess students, by allowing us to see how student develop, test, and refine hypotheses.

Dr. Puentedera, who created SAMR, has provided a slide deck outlining his thoughts on SAMR and assessment.


Read Dr. Gouveia’s article on Learning Science published in the Voice From the Industry in EdNET News Alert.


Dr. Christine Gouveia is Vice President of Applied Learning Sciences at McGraw-Hill Education where she leads the applied research, iterative design, and early validation of next generation learning experiences to promote learner outcomes and system effectiveness. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Educational Psychology & Cognitive Science from Cornell University, an M.S. in Developmental & Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and a B.S. in Social Psychology from Howard University.

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