SAT Curriculum Teaching Principle #2: Learning Pyramid

Last week, we covered confidence-building scaffolding, the first of three teaching principles applied to ArborBridge's proprietary SAT curriculum. The second key principle to our method is the incorporation of the Learning Pyramid.

Learning Pyramid

When writing our curriculum, it was important that we didn’t just start students at the right level, but also ensure that the way we taught students would maximize student involvement and retention. A lot has been said recently about the "Learning Pyramid" (see image below), which takes into account the retention rates for students based on different teaching methods.

Learning Pyramid

This pyramid was the foundation of the structure of our lessons, which follow an activity based learning style. Each aspect of the pyramid makes an appearance in lessons, so students shift between different learning methods, eliminating zoning out or information overload.

Introduction of concepts: First, lessons are purposefully structured with clearly delineated concepts and eye-catching colors to target “audiovisual” (retention rate 20%). Students are asked to read any information included out loud to target “reading” (retention rate 10%).

Teaching of concepts: Then, the information read is discussed with the tutor in order to target “discussion” (retention rate 50%). To address demonstration (retention rate 35%), an example is then worked through with the student.

Application of concepts: Then, activities in which a student must explain why something is right or wrong are walked through, activating the highest retention learning method ("teach others", which has an average retention rate of 90%). Finally, a student is given practice on the concept to fulfill the practice doing aspect of the pyramid (retention rate 75%).

Incorporating all these different methods presents concepts in a way in which the student is not overwhelmed by too much at once (such as immediately asking the student to teach the concept). It also avoids merely lecturing students, which has the lowest retention rates, and is typical of most tutoring or classroom programs.


What is our last teaching principle? Keep an eye out for our next post!

Lisa McManus

About Lisa McManus

Lisa graduated from the Columbia School of Public Health where she finished a degree in sociomedical sciences after studying biology as an undergrad at Georgetown. At both universities, she completed theses based on education and pedagogy, conducting original research and teaching in low-income middle schools. After graduation, Lisa developed targeted curricula for small after-school programs.

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