When Neuroscience Guides Education

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Science  08 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6159, pp. 671
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6159.671-b

How do findings in neuroscience guide educational research and practice? In particular, does providing information about the neurobiology of learning to in-service teachers improve their pedagogy? Dubinsky et al. addressed these questions by organizing three sessions of BrainU, a summer professional development workshop designed by the Society for Neuroscience, where plasticity was the key neuroscience concept taught. It was expected that teachers would see themselves as capable of changing students' neural circuits and feel empowered by being able to explain why practice and application were needed to consolidate learning. BrainU provided inquiry-based activities that teachers could subsequently use with their students. A multiple-choice test given before and after the workshop showed that teachers' basic neuroscience knowledge improved. Two pedagogical quality tests given to teachers once they returned to their classrooms indicated that cognitive engagement among students and teachers improved. Thus, BrainU succeeded in motivating teachers to implement student-centered lessons, based on the concept of plasticity, and in modeling best practice in inquiry pedagogy. This research raises the question of whether teaching the neurobiology of learning to preservice teachers is also efficient.

Edu. Researcher 10.3102/0013189X13499403 (2013).

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