Research into Practice

Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 331-340

First online:

Integrating Cognitive Science and Technology Improves Learning in a STEM Classroom

  • Andrew C. ButlerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University Email author 
  • , Elizabeth J. MarshAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University
  • , J. P. SlavinskyAffiliated withDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University
  • , Richard G. BaraniukAffiliated withDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University

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The most effective educational interventions often face significant barriers to widespread implementation because they are highly specific, resource intense, and/or comprehensive. We argue for an alternative approach to improving education: leveraging technology and cognitive science to develop interventions that generalize, scale, and can be easily implemented within any curriculum. In a classroom experiment, we investigated whether three simple, but powerful principles from cognitive science could be combined to improve learning. Although implementation of these principles only required a few small changes to standard practice in a college engineering course, it significantly increased student performance on exams. Our findings highlight the potential for developing inexpensive, yet effective educational interventions that can be implemented worldwide.


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