Structuring class activities and assignments that best help students learn is a difficult art to master, so GSIs do well to become informed about the practices that are most effective for student learning and what makes them effective.

On this page, you will find links to a variety of resources that explain findings from the research on learning that GSIs can apply to their teaching. All the linked materials were developed as part of the How Students Learn project of the GSI Center, which was sponsored by grants from the Teagle Foundation’s Graduate Student Teaching in the Arts and Sciences Initiative.

Talks by UC Berkeley Faculty Researchers
Related Articles in the Teaching Guide for GSIs
Core Readings about How Students Learn

Talks by UC Berkeley Faculty Researchers


Daniela Kaufer, Associate Professor, Integrative Biology: What can Neuroscience Research Teach Us about Teaching?


Jean Lave, Professor Emerita, Department of Geography: Learning as a Socially Situated Activity

Rosemary Joyce, Professor, Department of Anthropology: Remarks on Legitimate Peripheral Participation

Cognitive and Social Psychology

Arthur Shimamura, Professor, Department of Psychology: Active Learning AND Testing: The Key to Long-Lasting Memories

John Kihlstrom, Professor, Department of Psychology: How Students Learn: A Perspective from Cognitive and Social Psychology

Martin Covington, Professor of the Graduate School, Department of Psychology: Why Students Learn and (Sometimes) Don’t Learn


Lawrence Lowery, Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Education: Effective Teaching for Effective Learning

Kathleen Metz, Professor, Graduate School of Education: The Interplay of Conceptual Understanding and Engagement in Disciplinary Practices

Alan Schoenfeld, Professor, Graduate School of Education: Learning to Think Mathematically (or like a scientist, or like a writer, or …)

Related Articles in the Teaching Guide for GSIs

Learning: Theory and Research
Neuroscience and How Students Learn
Cognitive Science: Memory and Learning
Anthropology: Situated Learning in Communities of Practice
Psychology: Motivation and Learning
Education: Organizing the Learning Process
Education: Learning to Think in a Discipline

Core Readings about How Students Learn

If you would like to learn more about how understanding student learning can improve your teaching, the following books are a great place to start. (Items marked with an asterisk [*] are available for check-out from the GSI Teaching & Resource Center library in 301 Sproul Hall.) A more extensive reading list is posted in How Students Learn: A Select Bibliography (pdf).

*Ambrose, Susan et al. (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Blakemore, Sarah-Jayne and Uta Frith (2005). The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

*Lave, Jean and Etienne Wenger (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

National Research Council, U.S. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Expanded edition. Ed. John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2000.

National Research Council, U.S. (2005). How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom. Ed. M. Suzanne Donovan and John D. Bransford. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.

*Ramsden, Paul (2003). Learning to Teach in Higher Education. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

Roediger, H. L. and Karpicke, J. D. (2006). “The Power of Testing Memory: Basic Research and Implications for Educational Practice.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 1.3 (Sept.): 181–210.

Tokuhama-Espinosa, Tracey (2011). Mind, Brain, and Education Science: A Comprehensive Guide to the New Brain-Based Teaching. New York: W. W. Norton.

The GSI Teaching & Resource Center has an extensive library of materials that address all aspects of teaching and professional development for GSIs. The Center is generally open from 9 to 12 and from 1 to 4, Monday through Friday, in 301 Sproul Hall.