Over the recent past, there has been various issues or problems associated with the learning process in a classroom setting. Students tend to be distracted by a variety of issues and since learning requires maximum concentration, they end up performing poorly. This has therefore necessitated a need for coming up with some strategies aimed at enhancing concentration so as to uplift academic performance among students.
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There is a relationship between the brain and student learning and if emphasis is placed on this, better results ought to be attained. One significant strategy is the brain-based learning. This entails a set of principles, knowledge, and skills that enables practitioners in learning institutions to optimize the learning process to allow for better performance (Fogarty, 2009).
This piece of paper gives a critical analysis of brain-compatible learning environments. Much emphasis will however be on the benefits attributed to the brain-compatible learning environments and the problems they are able to solve.
Brain-compatible learning environments are extremely crucial aspects in fostering learning. Despite the fact that brain-compatible learning does not offer solution to all the problems experienced in learning institutions today, it plays a great role in enhancing the learning process. This is mainly through seeking to create a more effective and efficient learning process, which is aimed at benefiting the learner.
This is achieved through gaining a deeper understanding of how the brain learns thus allowing for the provision of the most effective learning environment possible. The concepts of brain-compatible learning include enhanced trust and belonging, directed choices, enhanced environment, meaning-filled content as well as adequate time (Williams & Dunn, 2007).
Some of the key elements that are worth noting while discussing the issue of brain-based learning include the curriculum or what is taught in schools, the instructions or how the different issues are taught, the environment or where the teaching takes place as well as the assessment or how the teaching or learning can be measured.
Irrespective of the methods or techniques used in teaching, the curriculum that is taught in learning institutions ought to be relevant and easy to understand or synthesize. Relevance of the curriculum entails including what is helpful to the students in their personal lives as well as in their future careers. This will enhance learning by making it interesting and avoiding workload.
Instruction is the other crucial element when it comes to the learning process. This entails how the students are taught. In the process of teaching, the teachers and other facilitators ought to engage in different teaching techniques to ensure that all aspects are understood easily. Use of different techniques also helps deal with the problem of boredom.
There should, for instance, be the use of practical examples and illustrations especially for technical issues. This will allow the students to relate the theory they learn with real life experiences.
Brain-based instruction necessitates that the instructors or teachers understand how the brain functions so as to come up with appropriate instruction, that which the mind can handle at a particular time. Teachers should combine their professional knowledge with that of the brain to facilitate environments that are learner-centered.
The environment, within which teaching and learning takes place, is also a crucial element in determining the success level of the learning process. The teachers and other school facilitators should ensure that learning takes place in a favorable environment. The mind is prone to various kinds of disruptions that in one way or the other may affect concentration thus hindering understanding of what is being taught.
A simple example entails buildings. Buildings have been deemed to have a significant effect on teaching and learning. The buildings should therefore be considered right from the time they are set up. “Brain compatible learning environments are places where students’ curiosities are piqued and potential anxiety, frustration or confusion is diminished” (Kaufeldt, 2010).
Assessment of any kind of activity is also essential. There ought to be some appropriate assessment measures to ascertain the progress of learning or what the students are gaining. Assessment allows taking of appropriate adjustments to ensure that all objectives of learning are achieved effectively.
In all the above named processes, the brain and its functioning should be the main point of focus so that the students’ wellbeing is considered and taken into account. This will allow maintenance of a brain-compatible environment that fosters teaching and learning.
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There is a need of a shift in thinking among all responsible parties in the education system. Rather than thinking of a classroom, they should think of a brain-compatible environment. This will ensure that all factors that either foster or hinder learning are catered for in the best way possible hence better performance (Sherry & Morse, 1995).
Some Problems Related To Instituting Brain-Based Learning Into Classrooms
Although brain based learning is attributed to a lot of benefits, it also has got some challenges. The most obvious one is resistance to change among the different parties that are involved.
The fact that learning institutions and the teachers are used to an ordinary classroom, just meant to be a venue for the learning process, makes it hard to accept the concept of brain based learning. Resistance to change could mainly occur due to the extra efforts required to facilitate a brain based learning environment.
Brain based learning is associated with other extra costs in terms of both time and resources. For instance, apart from the normal teaching career knowledge, teachers are expected to gain a deeper understanding of the brain and its functioning in an effort to incorporate the desired aspects of a brain- based environment.
Although this could be considered as an extra burden, the benefits associated with brain based learning surpass this by a great extent.
Another problem could be lack of adequate funds to facilitate the process. This could be in making of appropriate buildings, those that are able to help the students remain focused, away from distractions. A brain-compatible learning environment also necessitates some changes that are not usually present in an ordinary classroom.
This includes provision of tight security levels, enhancing movements for instance through linking indoor and outdoor areas to avoid straining the brain, changing displays to enhance interaction with the environment and stimulate brain development as well as having other resources that in one way or the other facilitate close proximity of the physical, educational as well as other varied settings.
Ignorance of the available methods is also an obstacle to implementation (Lucas, 2004).
All in all, it is worth noting that despite the fact that brain-compatible learning environments are demanding in terms of the changes, time, and other resources required, the advantages accrued to it surpass the drawbacks greatly as it will be seen in the next section. This therefore dictates that brain- compatible environment is a strategy that is worth investing in.
Advantages of Brain-Compatible Learning Environments
Most of the benefits that are associated with brain-based learning environments are based on brain space principles that govern effective teaching and learning.
Some of the principles include; creation of stimulating environments with attractive displays, linking indoor and outdoor areas in an effort to facilitate movement, allowing for maximum security away from dangers and threats, allowing for flexibility in the learning process where there are breaks between lessons and change of environments and promotion of intrapersonal as well as interpersonal intelligence through provision of active and passive areas for the students to have some personal reflections as well as active engagements among others (Gagne, Briggs., & Wager, 1992).
There are various benefits that are associated with brain-compatible learning and environments. The significance of brain compatible learning environments could clearly be derived right from their definition. It entails active engagement, utilization of strategies and adherence to certain stipulate principles that are deemed important in enhancing learning to the highest or best possible level.
According to Williams and Dunn (2007), brain based learning entails an active engagement of appropriate strategies that are usually founded upon principles that are drawn from neuroscience. In simple terms, brain-compatible learning entails coordinating learning in regard to the manner in which the brain is naturally meant to function and learn. This allows for effective learning that yields better results.
Another benefit associated with brain-based learning environment is the fact that they allow for catering of the specific needs of the different students based on their capabilities. This is because by understanding that different individuals possess different talents and understanding capabilities, the teachers are able to come up with different strategies aimed at catering for the varying students’ needs.
Failure to understand and deal with the differences in an appropriate manner may lead to overworking of some students which in turn result in stress, reduced motivation, and a generally poor academic performance (Slavkin, 2002).
Classrooms should be transformed to real world environment that is stimulating. The curriculum should be set in such a way that it stimulates the brain’s neural networks. This could be through the inclusion of cultural, sensory, and other aspects.
Brain compatible learning environments allows teachers to refrain from the tradition practice of applying uniform strategies for all the students with the belief that it is still effective and instead learn to take care of the diverse learners appropriately. This could be achieved through development of unique learning profiles for all the students and preparation for complex instruction.
Brain-compatible learning environments take into account the fact that the brain is a complex organ that is responsible for carrying out various responsibilities. The conscious and unconscious elements of the brain are used in the learning process.
Other functions of the brain that are relevant in learning include attention, perception as well as memory. Brain-compatible learning environments are associated with the immersion benefit. This entails making the learning process as real and involving as possible. This is made possible through strategic incorporation of different stimuli (Slavkin, 2002).
Brain-compatible learning environments also make use of problem solving knowledge and skills in the learning process as opposed to ordinary learning by rote. This has the advantage of enhancing the experience by making it more significant and rewarding for the students.
This in turn makes the entire learning process inspiring and effective. The active engagement of the brain contributes to improved learning. It for instance promotes memory, which is a crucial element in learning due to the need for future reference or consultation.
A brain- compatible environment also fosters learning that is absolutely free from stress. Stress is a condition that not only affects learning in a negative manner but also other processes especially those that require concentration. Stress in the learning environment could result from a wide range of sources and activities.
For instance, when students are subjected to strict deadlines or tightly designed time frames they may get stressed. This is especially where the students are relatively slow in learning. Stress disheartens the learning process, makes it impossible for a student to engage in creative thinking and hinders memory retention.
Although it may be a hard task to eliminate activities that lead to stress in a learning environment, a brain-based approach makes use of stress relieving practices in an effort to offer a supportive environment to the learner that helps in satisfying his or her needs. Some of the practices could seem simple but they are extremely helpful.
They include; physical activities such as stretching and having some breaks for physical exercises to avoid overworking that could build up stress, provision of some training that impacts the students with skills that allow coping with emotional related stress among other strategies (Slavkin, 2002).
Individualization is the other benefit that is attributed to brain-based learning environments. Brain-compatible learning environments allow the teachers to apply an individualized approach as opposed to applying a uniform strategy upon all the students. This ensures that all the needs of each and every student are catered for appropriately bearing in mind that different students have different learning capabilities.
This allows for discovery of new aspects and thus deepens learning. The use of a variety of approaches and a wide range of problem solving methods in a brain-based learning environment is also beneficial because it allows students to learn in a personal and pragmatic manner. Every student feels well represented and is motivated to work even harder to better academic performance (Jensen, 2008).
From the above discussion, it is evident that there have been major problems in the field of learning. This has brought about the need to come up with appropriate strategies aimed at minimizing or eliminating the problems. As opposed to the past, the field of education has entered an extremely significant era, the brain era.
Various parties have become interested in learning more about the human brain and how it operates so as to enhance learning by providing a favorable learning environment that does away with distractions that may hinder attention, an aspect that is incredibly crucial in a learning setting. Although there are problems that are associated with brain-based learning environments, the benefits surpass them greatly.
This therefore dictates that this scientific approach should be introduced and strategically implemented in learning institutions to enhance learning. The issue of understanding the brain and how it functions is extremely crucial and it helps in the adoption of appropriate strategies in the learning process.
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Gagne, R. M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager, W. W. (1992). Principles of Instructional Design 4th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich College Publishers.
Jensen, E. (2008). Brain-Based Learning; the New Paradigm of Teaching 2nd Ed. California: Corwin Press.
Kaufeldt, M. (2010). Begin With the Brain: Orchestrating the Learner-Centered Classroom. Scotts Valley, CA: Sage.
Lucas, R. W. (2004). The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning. New York: AMACOM.
Sherry, L., & Morse, R. (1995). An Assessment Of Training Needs In The Use Of Distance Education For Instruction. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1(1): 5-22.
Slavkin, M. L. (2002). The Importance of Brain Functioning On Cognition and Teacher Practice. The Journal of Teaching and Learning 6(1): 21-34.
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