Unfortunately for me (and all other educators and those interested in education), humans are variable creatures; cause and effect relationships do not exist in education. We cannot be assured “if I do this, then my students will learn that.” (Those who make their living selling “the next big thing” to educators will be disappointed to know their secret is out.)
If cause and effect could be reliably determined in teaching, then it would have been discovered long ago, and we would never hear “I taught it, but they didn’t learn it” and also the never-ending calls for education reform would be silent.
If we do define learning as remembering (neuroscience tells us recall is not really what happens when we remember; we reconstruct what we know when we remember it, but let’s not worry about that right now), there are some strategies that make it more probable that students will be able to do that.
If we define learning in a more comprehensive manner and include the types of cognitive performance that motivate educators and students, then the problem of designing classrooms and lessons becomes much more challenging. This is what faculty want for their students, this is what students need, and this is what society expects; these are the classrooms we are obligated to create.
It isn’t simple. There is no one solution.