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10 Powerful Steps for Improved Learning

Brain Based Teaching and Teacher Workshops

How to Make Your Job Easier and Give Students an Amazing Gift
for a Lifetime:

It’s the “Gift” of “How to Learn”

Usually, we feature a column on how to be a better teacher, administrator or trainer. This month, we’ll pause for a moment and work at the other end of the process. What do STUDENTS NEED to be doing to become far more effective learners? Some of the research tells us things we already knew.

PART ONE: The Research

We all know that teaching kids HOW to get more organized for study is important. But there might be a few surprises that are downright counter-intuitive. For example, you’ll be surprised to find out that quizzing MORE OFTEN actually promotes learning. But that’s just one of the 10 powerful steps for improved learning. If you are in a position to share these with staff that can reach students, please share this upcoming list. The research for this month was collected by the following scientists:

Harold Pashler (Chair)
University of California, San Diego
Patrice M. Bain
Columbia Middle School, Illinois
Brian A. Bottge
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Arthur Graesser
University of Memphis
Kenneth Koedinger
Carnegie Mellon University
Mark McDaniel
Washington University in St. Louis
Janet Metcalfe
Columbia University

Typically, I use this area to fill your brain with the “why” behind all the action. This month, it’s posted, so you can look it up. The full research document is posted on the web. Only one of 50 of you either: 1) work with students in this capacity, or, 2) are hungry enough to look it up. The document can be downloaded here (pdf).

The research tells us that the following suggestions have reasonable scientific support for them. If something’s not a good idea, you won’t hear it from me. But wait, there’s more! The online research posted 7 ideas and I have added 3 of my own, for a total of 10. Read more

10 Critical Things You Should Know About Brain Based Education

ADCD article by Eric Jensen

October 2010 Leaders of Learners – Eric Jensen article published. Texas ASCD.

The brain is involved in everything we do and it takes many approaches to understand it better. Brain-based education has withstood the test of time and an accumulating body of empirical and experiental evidence confirms the validity of the new paradigm. Many educationally significant, even profound, brain-based discoveries have occurred in recent years such as neurogenesis, the production of new neurons in the human brain. It is highly likely that these discoveries would have been ignored if the education profession hadn’t been primed, alerted, and actively monitoring cognitive neuroscience research and contemplating its implications and applications.

Why Brain-Based is a “No Brainer”

Let’s start this discussion with a simple, but essential, premise: the brain is intimately involved in and connected with everything educators and students do at school. Any disconnect is a recipe for frustration and potentially disaster. Brain-based education is best understood in three words: engagement, strategies, and principles. Here you will learn the principles of how the synergy of biology, cognitive science, and education can support better education with direct application to schools. Here are some of the powerful connections for educators to make in our new understanding of the new brain-based paradigm.

One

1. Highly relevant is the recent discovery that the human brain can and does grow new neurons. Many survive and become functional. Now we now know that new neurons are highly correlated with memory, mood, and learning. Of interest to educators is that this process can be regulated by our everyday behaviors, which include exercise, lowering stress, and nutrition. Schools can and should influence these variables. This discovery came straight from neuroscientists Gerd Kempermann and Fred Gage. Practical school application: support more – not less – physical activity, recess, and classroom movement.

Read the rest of the article here..

Are Learning Styles a Big Hoax? What Does the Latest Science Say About Different Learners?

MSc eLearning: Essay Wordle

Before we begin, I want to address a study that was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, and on the mainstream news. It claimed that “brain-training” is not effective. Huh? In spite of the quality of the journal, don’t swallow the study results. Why?

Three reasons: 1) the “brain training” was only 10 minutes a day – way too short for the brain to change. You need 20-60 min./day. 2) a small sample size was used, not a large random one, so you can’t generalize, and 3) there was no monitoring the brain training; all was done at home, where presumably, people are talking to family, spacing out, and not highly vested. Listen: the brain can change, but you have to follow the rules!

Okay; I got that off my chest. Now, let’s focus on something I ordinarily NEVER focus on.

There are many so-called “truths” that float around in education. Some actually are true, and others are a big, smelly pile of doo-doo. For example, if you’ve been to any of my workshops lately, you know why you should NEVER buy into the myth of the “normal” kid.But for today’s newsletter, we’d got another shocker: neuroscientist Susan Greenfield said that from a neuroscience point viewpoint, the whole idea of using learning styles for teaching is nonsense. By the way, she’s not alone in believing there is no such thing as a learning style.

But wait, there’s more…

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) commissions panels of leading psychologists and cognitive scientists to evaluate topics of public interest, and publishes their reports in Psychological Science. In late 2009, the panel concluded that an adequate evaluation of the learning styles hypothesis – the idea that optimal learning demands that students receive instruction tailored to their learning styles – requires a particular kind of study – AND IT HAS NOT BEEN DONE.

How could you “prove” learning styles.

Here’s what you’d have to do: group students into the learning style categories that are being evaluated (e.g., visual learners vs. verbal learners), and then students in each group must be randomly assigned to one of the learning methods (e.g., visual learning or verbal learning), so that some students will be “matched” and others will be “mismatched.”

After the learning and consolidation time, all students must sit for the same test. If the learning style hypothesis is correct, then, for example, visual learners should learn better with the visual method, whereas auditory learners should learn better with the auditory method. But Massa & Mayer, 2006 have found that this has not been done.

So what does this mean?

Read more