What Is Neuroeducation? [And Why We Should All Embrace It]
Have you heard about neuroeducation? It’s a new, revolutionary process of learning, a combination of neuroscience and education.
Here’s the thing:
Neuroeducation is basically the merger of biological and educational processes. Scientists are implementing it today because of the benefits it brings to the learning process. For instance, the intertwining of neuroscience and education helps with reading, numerics, and attention span.
Neuroscience offers a new perspective on education by focusing on the following characteristics – brain state, hormonal state, and genetic state. As a result, students obtain different types of learning and retention.
You might be wondering:
Where does neuroeducation get its utmost application?
Neurolearning has great potential in enhancing the learning abilities of students with ADHD, dyslexia, and dyscalculia. So, it’s a great way to overcome the huge obstacles that students with learning disabilities are facing on a daily basis.
And that’s not all:
In addition to being specifically helpful for students with short attention span and learning disorders, the neuroscience learning theory provides effective learning strategies for all students.
So, if you’re eager to find out more about the importance of neuroscience in education, then it’s time to check out some of the top questions related to the topic. At Mark in Style, we’ll also give you some tips on applying different aspects of neuro education in the classroom.
But before we get there, let’s cover a bit of background.
How It All Began
Neuroeducation emerged out of the need for a new practice within the educational field. In an attempt to replace the already obsolete methods of traditional learning and education, scientists started applying educational neuroscience methods in the pursuit of an effective outcome. We might say that there isn’t all that much neuroeducation history because it’s a relatively recent approach. Which makes it all the more exciting and worth exploring, of course!
Even though education theory is closely tied with the names of Abraham Maslow, John Dewey, and Lev Vygotsky, there wasn’t a thorough understanding of the process of learning until it was connected with neuroscience. Just by getting a grip on the functions of the brain, neuroeducation makes the learning process ‘digestible’.
Since then, scientists have been engaged in discussions about the new philosophy that includes the human brain and learning. Several modern technologies have been used to measure brain activity and establish the relationship between neuroscience and education.
The two trailblazing neuroeducation books at the very beginning are the 1995 edited volume by George Singer and Deborah Graham, The Decade of the Brain, and David A. Sousa’s How the Brain Learns, published in 2000. The books explore the impact emotions have on the decision making processes in the brain, attention span and its effects the process of learning, and how the process of teaching should be done in order to aid learning.
Now that we know the beginnings, let’s delve deep into the most pressing questions.
What Is the Major Goal of Educational Neuroscience?
The major goal of educational neuroscience is to merge the two fields of education and neuroscience. This way, we can build a bridge between researchers and educators, while dangerous neuromyths are excluded from the picture.
As a result, neuroeducation has the potential to ease the process of studying as well as the process of teaching. There are even specialized websites that help teachers, such as Big Brain Education. Just by applying some of the following principles, teachers can see a positive outcome in learning and retention:
Focus on Learning in Small Chunks
According to the latest brain research education findings, learning new information is best done in small chunks. The reason behind this way of providing mini-lessons is that students remember the beginning and end of a lesson the most. Learning in small chunks is also called microlearning. And as microlearning statistics show, this method is 17% more effective than traditional ways of learning.
Link to the Lesson Emotionally
Prior to teaching a lesson, teachers should form an emotional connection between the lesson and the students. This is why stories are remembered so well. Once the students connect with the story, they will learn the concepts within it more quickly.
Learning Should Be Active, not Passive
Passive learning is when teachers teach a lesson without involving the students. However, this way the retention is lower compared to when students are active participants in the lesson. Some of the ways to include the students in the lessons are gamification, simulations, role-playing, etc.
Immediate Application of New Knowledge
Teaching concepts that involve only teaching a lesson, without immediate application of the knowledge acquired, result in less knowledge retention. Unless the knowledge is applied by the students immediately after the teaching, there will be a lack of student achievement.
Learning Breaks Are Important
The brain needs some rest in order to sort things out better. This is why education and neuroscience focus on making breaks within a lesson. In addition, students can get the most out of a lesson by getting a few minutes of rest after one hour of continuous learning.
Some schools prohibit the use of mobile phones and checking social media in class in order to boost student productivity. When students do several things all at once – talk to others, check their phones, and so on, their attention span is very low. This is why educational neuroscience programs say no to multitasking.
Repeat to Retain Neuroplasticity
Concepts already learnt have to be repeated to stay in the memory longer. As a result, the brain will develop and retain neuroplasticity and then provide growth of the neural networks that work on retaining knowledge.
Healthy Body = Healthy Brain
To get the most out of the brain, you should give it optimal support. This includes some of the key factors in keeping the body in shape – healthy food, exercise, and plenty of sleep. Successful learning happens when students are well-rested, get vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables, and are physically active.
What Is Neuroscience Learning Theory?
When it comes to the combination of neuroscience and learning, we can see the revolutionised theories of learning in the last decade. In fact, all of the changes are due to the application of cognitive, affective, and social neuroscience to education. For instance, the impact of emotional and social learning was already evident in the past. But due to the new technology and measures, its importance is far greater.
The understanding of the process of learning is closely connected to theories that note changes in the neurophysiology and changes in behaviour.
So, if you’re looking for a typical example of recent neuroscience breakthroughs, you need to look no further than the results of a study conducted by the scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. As the students were learning about simple matters, their brain activity was scanned in order to get an insight into the brain matters when acquiring new concepts.
That being said:
Expert opinions are divided when it comes to the learning process. Some think brain scans have less potential compared to physiological approaches in investigating matters. For instance, some of the methods explored by the psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the 19th century focus on the vitality of repetition in the learning process. In fact, memories are mostly formed and retained when there is a time span between two repetitions, rather than when the repetitions are made in a very short period of time.
An additional theory that supplements these educational breakthroughs is connected to the rewards that students get from learning. Brain research and education studies show dopamine levels in the brain increase when there is an anticipation of a reward. As a result, there is an increase in the students’ emotional response and engagement. In effect, the brain will form new memories if rewards follow. Teachers who plan activities with this process in mind will eventually see success.
Last but certainly not least:
We have to mention a theory that stands behind the learning processes in teenagers. In fact, many studies suggest that teenagers should start classes later in the day. That’s because, at this stage of development, a teenager’s brain needs a good night’s sleep to function at its best. That’s closely connected to the processes of creativity, memory consolidation, and information processing.
So, the neuroscience of learning advises teachers to accept the fact that teenagers may be unresponsive (in addition to being cranky) first thing in the morning, as they have a delayed sleep/wake cycle.
What Is Brain-based Learning?
If you’ve been asking yourself what is brain-based education, maybe now is the right time to find out.
Here’s the scoop:
Brain-based learning involves specific teaching methods and school programmes, as well as particular lesson design and planning. All of the teaching and learning aids that revolve around brain-based learning are created according to the latest findings on how the brain works as well as cognitive development. Cognitive development, in fact, is all about the different ways of learning that change with the age and growth of the students.
Brain research and education studies suggest learning can be enhanced if teachers grasp the potential of the new scientific ways of how the brain works rather than sticking to the old, traditional ways. Still, it’s important to emphasise that religiously clinging to a certain trend in neuroscience doesn’t bring any benefits, either.
For instance, researchers used to believe that intelligence stays the same throughout life. However, the latest studies show that the brain is enhanced by learning new skills, and it physically changes throughout the process.
So, when teachers implement the brain-based learning method, they are slowly getting to understand how does neuroscience influence learning. Just by understanding the concept, they are more likely to keep diverse learners engaged, create a better learning environment, and provide valuable feedback to learners to enhance the learning process. Through this method, teachers can address the students’ emotional and social needs.
This is important:
Learning neuroscience shows us emotions are vital to the learning process.There's no such thing as neutral learning, as every type of learning triggers an emotional response. Click To Tweet
To put this in concrete terms:
Relationships between teachers that are nurturing and full of mutual respect will more likely facilitate a safe environment for learning and growing. In contrast, relationships that are overly strict, lacking communication, and based on punishments will likely result in negative learning outcomes.
Why Are Brain-based Theories Relevant in the K-12 Classroom?
Although brain-based theory developed approximately 30 years ago, it’s still considered a fairly recent phenomenon. Thanks to it, we’ve learnt much about how the brain is structured and how it functions. These findings support the brain-based theories and the notions of integrating the fields of cognitive science and education.
A large body of research examines the potential benefits in the classroom and the curriculum from neuroscience learning. It justifies reforms in the curriculum in several areas such as the arts and language learning.
The thing is:
Education brain connections research shows that humans learn best in a state of relaxed alertness, where the challenge is high but the threat is low. Brain-based theories do not support stressful environments where students experience high levels of exam stress, for example. These situations have negative implications for the students, the teachers, and the schools in general.
Then, there’s more:
Brain-based theories suggest there’s insufficient time in the curriculum for subjects such as art, music, and physical education. And studies show that, regardless of the fact that more time is devoted to science, students do not show improved results. Neuroeducation learning arts and brain integration certainly have benefits.
Additionally, research has shown that brain-based learning strategies can positively influence student motivation, attitudes, and academic achievement. To illustrate the relevancy of brain-based theory, we can take brain-based mentoring and neuropedagogy as an example.
Studies on brain-based mentoring published in the Educational Neuroscience journal involve the use of problem‐solving activities. In a few phases, the learners are first introduced to the main subject and the problem. Then, they’re encouraged to use their soft and hard skills as resources for finding solutions.
Research in neuroscience should focus on understanding how much teachers are informed on brain-based learning and to what extent they’re knowledgeable, trained, and equipped for integrating brain-based learning in the curriculum.
How Neuroscience Can Help Teachers
Neurological education enables teachers to take into consideration the physical, social and emotional development of their students. Since not all students acquire knowledge in the same manner, neuroscience recommends engaging the students in different ways.
Unlike individual work, brain-based learning promotes engaging students in collaboration and communication. These strategies enhance the students’ ability to learn and achieve curriculum objectives in a meaningful way. Furthermore, providing students with a safe environment where they feel supported is a prerequisite to nurturing them.
And on that note:
Exchanging ideas about science is called communication. This is the exact reason why science can be a part of any field, including education. And as we’ve seen, the latest scientific research shows the growing importance of neurological education.
So, at the end of the day, we don’t need a Neuro 24 pill or some other magical brain enhancement formula. Instead, we should apply some of the principles of neuroeducation in the classroom to provide a safe learning environment, boost our students’ learning abilities, and relieve teacher stress.