Neuroscience of Learning or Brain-Based Learning

Neuroscience of learning or brain-based learning is an integral concept in for instructors in order to provide holistic and effective instruction.  The human brain is not governed totally by one side of the brain or the other, but both in a symbiotic fashion that is not necessarily equal either.  The left brain helps to learn concepts, but the right side puts those concepts into a larger perspective.  It is therefore incumbent upon the instructor to provide the types of learning opportunities for learners to be able to put concepts into a great context in order to improve overall deep learning.

I believe this is why adults learn languages much more effectively when they are immersed into the language as opposed to learning it piecemeal in a static classroom setting.  Immersion provides the context and immediate use of language in that context, so it is learned more easily and quickly.  The brain is forced to create new neural pathways or phase sequences (Schunk, 2012).  For children, language acquisition is much more efficient, and they can easily pick up two languages at the same time, especially when they are at an early age (Driscoll, 2005).

This concept was also used by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki who developed the Suzuki Method for young children to learn a musical instrument.  He started with the violin, and my daughter is currently learning the violin with this method. She began when she was four years old.  Dr. Suzuki refers to the Mother-Tongue approach in learning music, which uses the basic principles of language acquisition among children (Suzuki Association of the Americas, 2012).  He noted that all children learn a native language with the same factors present: parental involvement, encouragement, constant repetition, and group work with other students of varying levels.  Through this method some children have become violin prodigies.  Not my daughter, but she does well, and I can see how she picks up concepts easily and in a different way than I did when I learned music as a middle-schooler.

As I consider the idea of context, it reminds me of the work of Garrison and Vaughan (2008), which contains and aspect of community of inquiry (COI) and social presence that is imperative to learning in the online, or in their case a blended learning environment.  There is a great deal of literature out there on COI and social presence as effective tools for online learning.  The concept behind that is that practical application of ideas and subject matter to real life through personal reflection and analysis contributes more toward learning than simple reflection and response, which is why online discussion is so important (Kim & Bateman, 2010).

References

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon.

Garrison, D. R. & Vaughan, N. D. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kim, H. K., & Bateman, B. (2010). Student participation patterns in online discussion: Incorporating constructivist discussion into online courses. International Journal on E-Learning, 9(1), 79-98.

Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Suzuki Association of the Americas. (2012). Retrieved from http://suzukiassociation.org/

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