The study of neuroscience is constantly revealing more about the parts of the brain used in acquiring and retaining new information. But knowing what happens in a student's prefrontal cortex doesn't necessarily help teachers reach their students.
According to the article, What Teachers Need To Know About The Science Of Learning--And What They Don't, by education researcher Natalie Wexler, teachers would benefit much more from cognitive psychology--the study of the way students learn--than from neuroscience, which focuses more on the brain's physical makeup and connections.
Nevertheless, there's been a huge push among educators to bring the science of learning into the classroom environment, and it hasn't necessarily gone over well - in first-grade classrooms or lecture halls. There's good reason for that, too. Many of those scientific recommendations - including the push toward neuroscience - just aren't that useful for teachers.
Although neuroscience is fascinating and crucial as a research field, teachers really don't need to know which parts of the brain 'light up' when students are completing their tasks. What might actually be helpful for teachers tends to come from the field of cognitive psychology, which focuses on behavior and the mind: how teachers can actually adapt their teaching style to reach students, and how students can study most effectively to make use of what they're learning.
An example: we know students learn more efficiently (and remember what they learn for longer) when they quiz themselves over the material they're studying (i.e, retrieval practice). Reading, highlighting, and then rereading a text, on the other hand? Not so helpful. Encouraging teachers to teach students to study in a way that really engages their mind--through the use of quizzing, flash cards, and other proven-effective techniques--can make a huge difference in their success as a teacher and their students' success. That's the kind of actionable advice that makes a difference.
Some proponents of teachers delving into neuroscience argue that teachers need to combat neurological myths--like the disproven assertions that some students have different learning styles, or the left-brain/right-brain phenomena we hear so much about. But a growing number of teachers and psychologists are arguing that it's easy enough to dispel those myths without having an in-depth understanding of the latest neuroscience research.
Posts on Effective Teaching Techniques (no neuroscience required):
Many thanks to Stefani for her assistance with this post.
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.