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Center for Teaching Excellence

  • College Student Studying

How Students Learn: Strategies for Teaching from the Psychology of Learning


Abundant research demonstrates that learning takes place when the student's mind actively engages in the material. The major problem is determining how to increase that activity. Within the discipline of human memory, learning, and cognition exists a vast body of literature dealing specifically with this issue. In this workshop, participants gain an understanding of the basic concepts in human learning, how to present information so that students most effectively encode it into long-term memory and how to help students know when they know.      

About the Facilitator

Todd Zakrajsek is the Executive Director of the Center for Faculty Excellence at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He was previously the Inaugural Director of the Faculty Center for Innovative Teaching at Central Michigan University and the founding Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Southern Oregon University, where he also taught in the psychology department as a tenured associate professor. He also directs the Lilly Conference on Teaching and Learning at Traverse City, Michigan, and the International Conference on Improving University Teaching.

Dr. Zakrajsek received his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Ohio University. He has published and presented widely on the topic of student learning, including workshops and conference keynote addresses in 36 states and 4 countries in the past several years.


"This presentation was extremely enlightening. It challenged the way I thought about learning and provided several tools to in turn challenge my students to engage and actually learn material as opposed to simply memorizing it for the test." – Exercise Science

"I learned how to draw students’ attention and help them process the materials and why we should do this from the psychological aspect. I also learned a lot of useful tricks. I think not only the teachers, also the students should know how people perceive knowledge and there are different learning styles, such that they could learn more effectively even when they are doing self-study." – Computer Science

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