Benjamin Riley

Founder & Executive Director, Deans for Impact


Learning by Scientific Design

Deans for Impact has launched the Learning by Scientific Design Network, a group of six educator-preparation programs that want to infuse cognitive science throughout the way they prepare teachers. We’ll share early insights from this effort, including data we’ve collected on what teacher-candidates (and teacher-educators) know about how students learn.


Benjamin Riley is the founder and executive director of Deans for Impact, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring every child is taught by a well-prepared teacher. As part of that mission, Deans for Impact believes that every teachers should understand and know how to apply the science of learning in their practice. Prior to founding Deans for Impact, Ben conducted research on the New Zealand education system, worked as policy director for NewSchools Venture Fund, and served as deputy attorney general for the State of California. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and J.D. from Yale Law School.


Read “The Science of Learning” in Issue 1 of researchED Magazine.


The (Emerging) Science of Teacher Expertise

Deans for Impact is developing a new publication that will summarise principles from the emerging science of expertise and as developed through purposeful or deliberate practice, and connect these principles to concrete approaches to improving teaching. In this working session, we will explore together the ways in which deliberate- practice principles map to instructional practice — and where they do not. The conversation will draw upon research pioneered by Anders Ericsson, author of Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise and will help guide the structure of our forthcoming publication.

The Emerging Science of Teacher Expertise – Session will explore the role of deliberate practice in developing and improving teaching skill.

The Persistence of Neuromyths

Time and again research has debunked the value of learning styles. Nevertheless, the neuromyth has persisted among teachers. Why? And is the persistence of this myth the result of some failure on their part…or the failure of advocates of learning science to communicate effectively with them? What if advocates of cognitive science in education are advancing strategies at odds with, well, cognitive science itself? This session is not a “safe space”: come only if ready to have your ideas challenged.

Dancin’ with Ourselves?

The past several years have seen a serious uptick in interest around the application of cognitive science to teaching, due perhaps in large part to the efforts of ResearchED. But the time is right to take stock of the growth of these ideas and ask hard questions about whether they’re reaching all educators and students — or whether there’s a bit of an echo chamber developing.