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Posts published in “Education”

The Science of Learning in Action: A Visit to Iron Range

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There are not that many universities that have fully embraced the science of learning. Some schools might have clickers in a few classrooms for example. Others may have intense mentoring programs. But broadly speaking instructional practice hasn't changed much in higher education since it was first pioneered.

This makes Iron Range Engineering in northern Minnesota pretty unusual. The program has fully embraced the research on how people learn and it's made for a very different educational experience.

I visited Iron Range engineering recently and was really impressed by their approach. When it comes to assessment, they use a lot of oral tests. As co-founder Ron Ulseth explained to me, the oral assessments allow students to explain what they know, both elaborating on their knowledge as well as showing it to the assessor. In this sense the assessments are both a form of learning and a form of evaluation.

The school's faculty has also taken some innovative approaches to retrieval practice. One educator showed me this scratch-off that she uses to help students learn.

A spacing approach to learning is also encouraged, and once students learns a principle in any of their courses, they are accountable for being able to describe and apply that principle right up until graduation.

It helps that the program is small. It only has about a hundred students. It's also well supported financially. There is funding from a regional economic development agency that gives the school a lot of flexibility.

The program has won some recent kudos. MIT recently listed IRE as one of the best engineering programs in the world. For Ulseth, that’s not enough. “Engineering education should always be changing. That’s the nature of engineering. You’re always looking to improve for the betterment of people."

--Ulrich Boser

This post first appeared at The Learning Agency.

Launch of the Learning Agency

Ulrich Boser 0

In an effort to improve education delivery services, I've decided to launch The Learning Agency.

Part service provider, part consultancy, the organization will offer professional services around the science of learning. We are a boutique firm that delivers value for our clients. In other words, we have a niche in the science of learning that we serve effectively and at cost.

Ulrich Boser started the Learning Agency after the success of his book "Learn Better." Released in 2017, the book examines the new science of learning and was featured in many media outlets, including Wired, Slate, Vox, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and The Atlantic. Amazon called it simply “the best science book of the year.”

The Agency already has a number of partners and clients including  Class Dojo,the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Holdsworth Center. We are also in the process of developing a number of other projects including creating a mini-class on 'learning to learn,' a project using AI to help retrieval practice, and creating a science of learning network of scholars and practitioners.

More on the organization here.

My book on the science of learning named one of the top business books of the year by Entrepreneur magazine

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Entrepreneur magazine named Learn Better as one of the top business books of the year, and as a book you'd want to read "to help you tackle the learning curves you hope to surmount in 2018."


So much of life has centered on one approach to learning that involves memorizing facts, dates, and details — but this approach isn't working. Instead, better learning comes from simple techniques described in this book.

Learn Better named one of the “best books for getting a job.”

Ulrich Boser 0

I'm excited to share that Business Insider has named Learn Better as one of the best books for getting a job, and a great book for building up expertise in your field!


"Boser's smart and approachable writing style engaged me at once as he laid out six methods for becoming an expert at whatever you like, whether it's basketball or quantum physics,"Adrian Liang, a senior editor at Amazon, tells Business Insider.

The author uses clear, accessible language and backs up all of his examples with anecdotes, data, and experiments.

"There's a lot to absorb here, but happily you have an expert teacher guiding you now on your own path toward effective learning," Liang says.