Quick Teaching Tips: Helping Students Develop Intuition

Barbara Oakley, Professor of Engineering at Oakland University and author of Uncommon Sense: Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn, offers insights into how the brain’s procedural learning system helps students develop intuition, a skill that is valuable in many problem-solving disciplines. The procedural system helps people complete activities that are done so often that we don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about them. This skill, intuition, is not only useful for rote activities like riding a bicycle, but also for completing sophisticated activities that require us to identify a pattern, such as solving a problem. In this article, Oakley provides three ideas to help students develop intuition: 1.) Feed your procedural system lots of varied data; 2.) Practice actively what you are focusing on; and 3.) Try to put into words what your intuition is telling you. How do you help your students hone their intuition? Share your reflections with us and earn a Reflective Teaching Badge token!


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