Neuroscience and Education: Teacher and Student Perceptions of Brain-Based Strategies that Engage the Brain

By: Ryan Wlodek, P.h.D | Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives of teachers and students on the effectiveness of brain-based teaching and learning strategies that engage the brain.  The focus of this study was on eighth grade teachers and eighth grade students in one Midwest school district.  The research methodology was a convergent mixed methods case study.  Qualitative data were collected through individual interviews with teachers and focus group interviews with students.  Quantitative data were collected through teacher and student surveys in which study participants rated the effectiveness of specific brain-based teaching and learning strategies.  Qualitative and quantitative data were collected to explore the perspectives of teachers and students related to the effectiveness of brain-based strategies that engage the brain.  It was also used to determine what brain-based strategies assist eighth grade students with learning.  Results indicated that physical movement, social interaction, adjusting physical aspects of the classroom/school environment, emotion, and repetition are effective teaching and learning strategies and assist eighth grade students with learning.  Although causation was not possible, correlations with brain research were established.

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Copyright © 2020 By Ryan M. Wlodek All Rights Reserved.

Physical Movement: A Key Brain-Based Strategy that has Positive Impacts on Learning

By:  Ryan Wlodek, Ph.D.

There are strong connections between physical movement and improved cognition, learning, and memory.  Physical movement has an effect on the whole body including the brain.  Physiologically, movement stimulates a wide variety of brain regions as well as increases heart rate which increases blood flow.  With increased blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to the brain are increased and waste products eliminated.  

Physical movement helps to involve students through active learning.  Students do not just sit and get information; rather, they actively participate and involve more senses while they learn.  Activating more senses is attributed to increased attention as more neural resources are needed to process the information. 

Movement, from a brain-based perspective, has multiple positive impacts on learning.  It helps students pay attention and focus, incites appropriate emotions necessary to assist the brain with learning, and has a positive impact on learning and memory.  The effects of movement can also be positive for special-needs learners.  

Educators can capitalize on the positive effect movement has on the brain and optimize student learning by strategically incorporating instructional methods that deliberately integrate movement.  Movement in the classroom can be as simple as providing stretch breaks or having students momentarily stand up.  These actions will have an immediate impact on blood flow and force students to activate a wider variety of brain regions.  Other ways to incorporate movement in the classroom include building models, creating and building devices, hands-on experiments and projects, the use of manipulatives and tools, acting, creating artwork representations of concepts, etc.  The supporting role movement has on cognition, learning, and memory also provides evidence for school-wide programs such as recess, physical education, extracurricular courses, and field trips.  

Copyright © 2020 By Ryan M. Wlodek All Rights Reserved.