Brain-Based Research and Learning
Research about the brain and how it learns is fascinating, and it provides many new considerations related to learning. There are three things that strike me as very important in brain-based learning. The first is the importance of making associations. The second is active involvement. The third is emotion. Each of these points will be addressed in this post, starting with associations.
The importance of associations cannot be underestimated. According to Cercone, “The human brain is always looking to make associations between incoming information and experience” (2006, p. 298). Because this is an important way for the brain to grow, it must be considered as a part of learning and Corporate Training Programs. For me, this means that I must find a way to help students make connections between what they already know and what they must learn. One way in which I do this is through the use of advance organizers. There are many different styles of advance organizers, and they can each be used as a means to help students learn new material by showing them how it relates to what they already know.
In addition to making connections, it is also important to ensure that students are actively involved in the learning in Corporate Training Programs. By keeping students actively involved, there is less of a chance of the students becoming bored by what is being taught. While hands-on activities are a great way to ensure this, physical activity can also be useful. One example that Cercone (2006) gives is to have students perform physical dexterity exercises to stimulate both hemispheres of the brain. For example, students can march in place or touch their right leg with their left hand. In my own classes, I have found these exercises to work quite well to keep students engaged in the learning; I have actually had them march in place while learning how to use formulas in Microsoft Excel!
Just as important as associations and active learning, ensuring that students are reached emotionally is also very useful. As Cercone (2006) mentions, I vividly recall what I was doing on September 11, 2001, and it was indeed related to learning. I will never forget it! While I do not believe that this extreme type of emotional connection is a good thing, making some kind of positive emotional connection can be very helpful for students. One of the best types of emotion that I have found useful in class is happiness. If I can keep my students very happy, through the use of humor and fun learning activities, they seem to retain more information. The emotional connection they have with the material makes it easier for them to remember the information in the future.
Brain-based learning is still a young field, and we will undoubtedly know more about it in the future. Even so, there is plenty that we currently know about how the brain learns. By using what we know about the brain in our Corporate Training Programs, we have a better chance of connecting with our students and helping them in the learning process.
Cercone, K. (2006). Brain-based learning. In Sorenson, E. K. (Ed.). (2006). Enhancing learning through technology. (pp. 292-320). Hershey, PA, USA: Information Science Publishing.