Barbara S. Thomson
During the past 40 years, numerous books and articles have been written criticizing teachers and teacher educators for the low academic achievement of students in reading, mathematics, social studies, English, and the sciences. In order to be accountable, standardized tests and proficiency examinations designed to meet national and state standards were administered to obtain student achievement data. Based on the data obtained from those assessments, attempts to reverse declining achievement scores among the diverse U.S. student population have spawned numerous intervention strategies. Although teams of educators and academicians repeatedly have massaged and reworked the curriculum with content innovations and provided continual professional training for teachers to implement these new programs, we still are not meeting appropriate expectations or academic goals for our children (NCTAF, 1996). Everyone realizes that the continued success of our country depends on the academic excellence of all students and a commitment to that goal is more important now than at any time in the history of this nation. However, until we focus on how students internalize and retrieve new and difficult material so that we can ensure quality learning for all students, we shall continue to grasp for that elusive variable—academic excellence. How do our children learn new and difficult information?
For more than 30 years, researchers working with learning and teaching styles have accumulated substantial documentation to support the belief that