21st December 2016

Neon Elephant Award Announcement

Dr. Will Thalheimer of Work-Learning Research announces the winner of the 2016 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul A. Kirschner, and Casper D. Hulshof for their book, Urban Myths about Learning and Education. Pedro, Paul, and Casper provide a research-based reality check on the myths and misinformation that float around the learning field. Their incisive analysis takes on such myths as learning styles, multitasking, discovery learning, and various and sundry neuromyths.

Urban Myths about Learning and Education is a powerful salve on the wounds engendered by the weak and lazy thinking that abounds too often in the learning field — whether on the education side or the workplace learning side. Indeed, in a larger sense, De Bruyckere, Kirschner, and Hulshof are doing important work illuminating key truths in a worldwide era of post-truth communication and thought. Now, more than ever, we need to celebrate the truth-tellers!

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

2016 Award Winners – Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul Kirschner, and Casper Hulshof

Pedro De Bruyckere (1974) is an educational scientist at Arteveldehogeschool, Ghent since 2001. He co-wrote two books with Bert Smits in which they debunk popular myths on GenY and GenZ, education and pop culture. He co-wrote a book on girls culture with Linda Duits. And, of course, he co-wrote the book for which he and his co-authors are being honored, Urban Myths about Learning and Education. Pedro is an often-asked public speaker, one of his strongest points is that he “is funny in explaining serious stuff.”

Paul A. Kirschner (1951) is University Distinguished Professor at the Open University of the Netherlands as well as Visiting Professor of Education with a special emphasis on Learning and Interaction in Teacher Education at the University of Oulu, Finland. He is an internationally recognized expert in learning and educational research, with many classic studies to his name. He has served as President of the International Society for the Learning Sciences, is an AERA (American Education Research Association) Research Fellow (the first European to receive this honor). He is chief editor of the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, associate editor of Computers in Human Behavior, and has published two very successful books: Ten Steps to Complex Learning and Urban Legends about Learning and Education. His co-author on the Ten-Steps book, Jeroen van Merriënboer, won the Neon-Elephant award in 2011.

Casper D. Hulshof is a teacher (assistant professor) at Utrecht University where he supervises bachelors and masters students. He teaches psychological topics, and is especially intrigued with the intersection of psychology and philosophy, mathematics, biology and informatics. He uses his experience in doing experimental research (mostly quantitative work in the areas of educational technology and psychology) to inform his teaching and writing. More than once he has been awarded teaching honors.

Why Honored?

Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul Kirschner, and Casper Hulshof are honored this year for their book Urban Myths about Learning and Education, a research-based reality check on the myths and misinformation that float around the learning field. With their research-based recommendations, they are helping practitioners in the education and workplace-learning fields make better decisions, create more effective learning interventions, and avoid the most dangerous myths about learning.

For their efforts in sharing practical research-based insights on learning design, the workplace learning-and-performance field owes a grateful thanks to Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul Kirschner, and Casper Hulshof.

Book Link:

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…



22nd December 2010

Neon Elephant Award Announcement

Dr. Will Thalheimer, President of Work-Learning Research, announces the winner of the 2010 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Richard Clark for his many years in leading the workplace learning-and-performance field by bridging the gap between academic research and practical application.

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

2010 Award Winner – Richard E. Clark

Richard E. Clark is Professor Of Educational Psychology and Technology at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. He is also director of the Center for Cognitive Technology. Richard Clark is currently focusing on the design and practical application of research to the areas of complex learning, performance motivation and the use of technology in instruction. He teaches courses in adult learning theory, motivation research, and instructional design.

His most recent books include:  

  • Handling Complexity in Learning Environments: Theory and Research
    (2006, Elsevier, with Jan Elen;  
  • Turning Research Into Results: A Guide to Selecting the Right Performance Solutions
    (2002, CEP Press, with Fred Estes) which received the 2003 International Society for Performance Improvement Award of Excellence and
  • Learning from Media: Arguments, Analysis and Evidence
    (2001, Information Age Publishers).

In 2002, he won the Thomas F. Gilbert distinguished professional achievement award from the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) and in 2003 he received the Socrates award for excellence in teaching in the Rossier School of Education. He is an elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 15, Educational Psychology), a Fellow in the Association of Applied Psychology and a Founding Fellow of the American Psychological Society.

Richard Clark is honored this year for (1) his lifetime of research and (2) for his exhaustive efforts over the years in bringing research to practice (especially as represented in his association with ISPI and his book (Turning Research Into Results – A Guide to Selecting the Right Performance Solutions )

Dick’s 1983 research review of media effects has become a classic.

Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-459.

With this one article, Dr. Clark brought a profound insight to the forefront: When two different types of instructional media (for example Video and PowerPoint) use the same learning method (in other words present the learning material in the same way), learning results will be equivalent. In other words, it’s not the media that matters, it’s the learning methods that matter. Of course, when different media utilize different learning methods, then results will not be equivalent. Dick’s grand insight helped pave the way for hundreds of thousands of instructional designers (and other learning professionals) to have intelligent conversations about learning media. While people will still ask us, “is e-learning better than classroom instruction?” we now know to counter their simplistic query with wisdom about how learning really works.

In 2006, Richard Clark contributed to another classic research review.

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.

Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006) argue that learners do better when instructional designers help provide appropriate guidance during instruction.This article launched a thousand ships—spurring research, discussion, and changes in practice.

And just last year, in 2009, Dr. Clark contributed to the enormously important book, Constructivist Instruction: Success or Failure?, a book that pits researchers arguing each side of the issue to get to the bottom of this essential debate.

And here’s one little known fact: Dick worked as an Associate Producer for Television News and Public Affairs, WHYY-TV and WFIL-TV Philadelphia, PA back in 1964-1965, when I was a youngster in the Philadelphia area. So that I don’t flatter Dick too much, I’ll have to tell him that Gene London (a Philadelphia Mr. Rogers) was much higher on my radar back then. Still, I often wonder whether such practical experience is what allows some researchers to bridge the gap to practice, while other’s ideas lay dormant within the ivory tower.

For his lifetime of work and for his ability to speak practicality from the academy, we owe Richard Clark our most grateful thanks.

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…

Note: Because researchers pride themselves on precision, let me note that yesterday was the actual winter solstice, when the Neon Elephant Award is typically released. Something came up.