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C2C Digital Magazine (Fall 2020 / Winter 2021)

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Book review: Seminal educational psychology works for teaching and learning

By Katie Uhlenhake, Baker University

How Learning Happens: Seminal Works in Educational Psychology and What They Mean in Practice
Paul A. Kirschner and Carl Hendrick
New York: Routledge
2020  309 pp. 

“Like most things, good teaching is ultimately an art that is informed by science – both anticipates the future and acknowledges the past.” - Paul A. Kirschner and Carl Hendrick in How Learning Happens (2020, p. xvii)


Decades of educational research leaves a mass of information for educators to consume. Unfortunately, the reality, for many, means little time to read and process how to apply this research. In an age of rapid development and the whirlwind of being an educator in 2020, everyone needs a manageable and trustworthy place to turn for meaningful research to implement in their educational setting. Paul A. Kirschner and Carl Hendrick’s How Learning Happens (2020) could not have had a timelier release. 

Key Components 

Kirschner and Hendrick collected an anthology of research articles that they consider groundbreaking to teaching and learning. Admittedly, they recognize these 28 critical articles, published between 1960 and 2013, are far from a complete compilation. Divided into six parts, this book addresses everything from how the brain functions to the teacher’s role to common classroom misconceptions.

Each chapter is dedicated to an article and formatted similarly into six sections: why it is worthwhile to read; the abstract (either original or paraphrased); gained understanding; implications and conclusions of the research; how to apply the research to teaching; the major takeaways; and finally, suggested readings on the given topic (with convenient QR codes, nonetheless). The simplified organization makes it easy for the reader to jump to the core of the work without muddling through the details. Nevertheless, for those who wish for the details, the doi is available, along with hyperlinks when possible.


As someone who teaches learning and cognition theories to educators and instructional designers, this book meets a significant literature gap. It is designed for all educators and helps apply the research into practice, artfully bridging the research to practitioner divide. One thing that I feel is lacking is the area of adults, or non-traditional learners. A significant number of the articles presented are with traditional-aged school children. However, the majority applies to all learning settings. 

About the Author 

Katie Uhlenhake, Ed.D., is an assistant dean and associate professor of instructional design at Baker University. She completed her Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership with a concentration in Instructional Design and Performance Technology from Baker University and Master's in Adult Education from Park University. Heavily focused on educating and advancing adult learners, she spends her career developing curriculum and instruction that meets adult learners' needs in online and hybrid formats. 

Her email is


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