Learning, Understanding and Conceptual Change

This week, I wrote a short essay that examines the foundational ideas of learning, understanding and conceptual change. The ideas of this essay are a reflection of the reading How People Learn by Bransford, Brown & Cocking’s (2000). In this essay, I capture the differences of a novice and expert learner and how this affects their depth of understanding in new experiences. I reflect on teaching methods that facilitate a high level of learning, including building background knowledge, cultural awareness and motivation. The full essay can be found here. Thoughts, questions and reflections are encouraged!


Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience

and school (pp. 3-78). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from


2 thoughts on “Learning, Understanding and Conceptual Change

  1. hannahrhendrickson says:

    After writing my own essay (on the same topic), it was very interesting to read your essay and to hear your ideas. I really like how you incorporated many relevant situations into your essay. If I remember correctly from your intro video, you are teaching 2nd grade. The math stories felt authentic and hooked me as a reader. This allowed me engage with your essay and it also pushed me to think about educational experiences I have had as an art teacher and how I also teach students who are novices and who are experts simultaneously. This is something I struggle with but I have found it very helpful to tune into students and find out what they know before so that I am able to differentiate my lessons accordingly. I definitely agree that learning engagements must be applicable and meaningful to student’s lives outside of the classroom. I am interested in the kind of real-world learning engagements you currently use in your classroom.

    • Jennifer says:

      I enjoyed reading your essay. The experience you are receiving from teaching Visual Arts to 3rd-5th grades in another country is an wonderful opportunity. I am so excited to hear what else you will be writing and reflecting on with your current position. I agree with the point that you made about how educators should help students make explicit connections to what they are understanding. If a student can relate or make a connection with what they are learning they are more likely to remember what they learn. I also liked how you mentioned, classrooms should be learner centered. I also completely agree that the learning environment for a student needs to be centered around where they are at that moment. There was much discussion throughout what we read about what knowledge the student has and how to make that connection. So by just saying students need to be at one point and students really being there is really different student to student.

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