How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories behind Effective College Teaching


Joshua R. Eyler

December 2018
PB 978-1-946684-64-6
CL 978-1-946684-65-3
eBook 978-1-946684-66-0

Teaching and Learning in Higher Education




Even on good days, teaching is a challenging profession. One way to make the job of college instructors easier, however, is to know more about the ways students learn. How Humans Learn aims to do just that by peering behind the curtain and surveying research in fields as diverse as developmental psychology, anthropology, and cognitive neuroscience for insight into the science behind learning.

The result is a story that ranges from investigations of the evolutionary record to studies of infants discovering the world for the first time, and from a look into how our brains respond to fear to a reckoning with the importance of gestures and language. Joshua R. Eyler identifies five broad themes running through recent scientific inquiry—curiosity, sociality, emotion, authenticity, and failure—devoting a chapter to each and providing practical takeaways for busy teachers. He also interviews and observes college instructors across the country, placing theoretical insight in dialogue with classroom experience.




Part 1   Where We Are Now

1. How Universal Design for Learning Got to Higher Education      

2. It’s the Law . . . Except When It Isn’t        

Part 2   Reframing UDL

3. Meet the Mobile Learners   

4. Engage Digital Learners     

5. Adopt the Plus-One Approach        

6. Coach the Coaches and the Players           

Part 3   Adopt UDL on Your Campus    

7. Expand One Assignment    

8. Enhance One Program: UDL across the Curriculum         

9. Extend to One Modality: The Online Environment            

10. Embrace One Mind-Set: Campuswide UDL        

11. Engage! The UDL Life Cycle      




About the Author     




Joshua R. Eyler is the director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and adjunct associate professor of humanities at Rice University. He has a PhD in medieval studies from the University of Connecticut and has published on a range of topics, including evidence-based pedagogy, technology in the classroom, and disability studies.



“Unique and compelling. Eyler brings lyrical prose and a truly fresh perspective to problems that have stubbornly persisted.”
Michelle D. Miller, author of Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology

"A warm, humane little book—a scientifically informed reminder that even in college, students and teachers are really driven by emotion, anxiety, curiosity, and care." 
—Daniel F. Chambliss, coauthor of How College Works