Learning is a complex and continuous process that usually occurs whenever people interact with other human beings and or objects in their surrounding environments. At the same time, we also need to realize that learning may as well take place in either a consciously or sub-consciously manner.
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Thus interaction is very important for creating learning experience for learners. Learning experience enables the learners to acquire cognitive, psychomotor and affective behavioral changes (Jensen, 2000). The most important aspect of brain-based learning is what the learners are expected to perform, how the learners are supported to accomplish their expectations and how they engage with the challenges.
Brain-based learning is a theory which is concerned with working of the brain during the learning process. Each brain develops uniquely such that learners of the same chronological age may not have the same level of brain development (Jensen & Johnson, 1994). Brain-based learning calls for a learner-centered learning as well as differentiated instruction to allow active participation of learners in the learning process.
Theories of Learning Supporting Brain-based Learning
According to Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligence, the brain consists of seven levels of intelligences and that human beings exhibit varied and unique intelligence abilities (Gardner, 1991).
This implies that learners learn in different ways and therefore classroom learning and teaching should provide various learning opportunities to learners to increase their chances of success (Wertsch, 1997). Thus people would normally build knowledge upon that which they have already acquired. It also implies learning from experience is very important.
Thus it is essential to apply teaching and learning process that incorporates learning through experience. This theory recognizes that each learner is unique and has complex needs and therefore it is important that teachers understand the entry behavior of each learner and the learner’s unique learning ability. There is the need for the teacher has to consider all these when planning any learning content to be delivered to the learners.
The Research Paper illustrates the use of scientific method for exploring and developing a topic of interest on issue/problem(s) referring to brain-based learning.
The study focuses on the relationship between the brain and student learning. One of the most exciting fields today is brain-based learning. It is a way of thinking about the learning process. It is not a solution to all of the problems in teaching today, nor is it a recipe for teachers.
It is a set of principles and a base of knowledge and skills that enables future and current teachers to make better decisions about how to construct lessons and present information to students to optimize the learning process. Failing schools and failing students in our country may be an indication of a faulty system not a faulty brain. This Research Paper focuses on an issue/problem(s) related to instituting brain based learning into classrooms.
This study used document analysis method in (Çepni, 2005) to discuss the currently existing written theoretical knowledge on brain and learning in respect to the curriculum, teaching and learning instructions, learning environment, assessment and the advantages of brain-based learning. The knowledge discussed in this document mostly come from books.
Issue/problem(s) related to instituting Brain-based Learning
Brain-based learning requires that the curriculum be structured around learners’ interest in order to make learning more contextual. The curriculum should be structured to reflect the intelligences and the uniqueness in the learners learning abilities and characteristics (Jensen, 2000).
Schools and classrooms should also be structured in a manner that enhances provision of individual learners needs. This curriculum should adopt more experiential learning which enhances exploration and creativity in learners.
For brain-based learning to be successfully achieved, learners need to be exposed to the subject content as much as possible and should also be given the opportunity to actively participate in the learning process (Caine, Crowell & Nummela-Caine, 1999).
The teachers have to expose each learner to suitable learning experience which best meet his or her needs. Learners have to be provided with various manipulatives to enhance the learners’ creativity.
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In brain-based learning, the learning content should be designed to connect the learning to learners’ previous experiences so as to ensure active processing of the learning content (Caine, Crowell & Nummela-Caine, 1999).
Learners would be able to better comprehend new concepts if the learning content is structured to connect with the knowledge that had been previously learnt. It is important for the curricula to be updated to reflect the life experiences of the learners.
Teachers also need to enable learners to gain insight into problems that they meet during the learning process by providing intensive analysis of the various approaches which can be used to solve the problem thus enabling learners to achieve active processing of experience (Caine, Crowell & Nummela-Caine, 1999). Teachers also need to design learning groups so as to develop social skills and stimulate cooperative learning in learners thus widening their source of knowledge.
The Learning Environment
Brain-based learning approach requires that the learning institution or classroom maintain a relaxed and focused atmosphere which would enable both learners and teachers achieve individual learners’ learning satisfaction. The learning environment should completely immerse learners in an educational experience (Jensen & Johnson, 1994).
Thus the environment should be that which enables learners to continuously build concepts and new information based on their previous experiences. The learning environment should enable external stimulation on the learners learning experiences and hence enhance gradual intellectual development.
Brain-based learning would be better achieved in an environment which provides many sensory, problem as well as cultural layers. It is therefore important to provide learners with various instructional opportunities which make learning more meaningful. The learning environment should be stimulated by learner created materials.
The learning environment should also stimulate a relaxed alertness in learners. This learning approach suggests that the learning environment should be able to balance stress and comfort (Jensen & Johnson, 1994).
Therefore teachers need to provide learning environments which stimulates the brain while at the same time eliminating fear in learners. It is important to note that the brains functions best when challenged, but shuts down completely when bombard with excess stress. It is therefore essential to create learning environments where learners feel safe and accepted.
This implies that educators need to look at; how the learners interact, classroom design and how the teachers teach. This would help eliminate factors that would stress the brain and inhibit learning. The classroom should be designed to create stage where learners can act their scenes during the learning process.
Brain-based learning requires the use of more diverse assessment forms. According to Jensen (2000), learners need to be exposed to many assessment methods. The assessment forms should include self-assessment aimed at determining reflective improvements. The assessment should enable learners to understand their learning preference as well as their learning style and should be aimed at monitoring demonstrated growth in learners during the learning process.
As such, teachers should adopt forms of assessment that give learners an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learnt in each topic by using means other than the usual written and standard tests. The assessment methods should include oral presentations, theoretical performances and even assignment projects. Assessing of learners progress should test useful academic growth in learners and should include cross-curricular and interdisciplinary projects (Caine, Crowell & Nummela-Caine, 1999).
The requirement of broad-based learning is that learners need to be exposed to challenging tasks, beyond their skills and abilities (Jensen & Johnson, 1994). Consequently, this acts to increase the level of confidence of a learner.
Structuring the curriculum to enhance provision of all the intelligences is very difficult considering that teaching one intelligence form alone requires much resources and time. This implies that structuring the curriculum to ensure that all the intelligence levels are covered might only be easy in writing but might prove to be tricky if implemented. Besides, brain-based learning may be limited by constraints on learning and human cognition. These constraints in the mind may limit introduction and learning of new concepts.
Brain-based learning may prove to be costly. Providing various manipulatives that meet learners’ needs as well as field trips might be costly and not readily available in some schools. Besides, learner-centered approach where learners are actively involved is time consuming and as such may derail the process of content coverage.
Moreover, provision of differentiated instruction requires more preparation on the part of the teacher. It is therefore very difficult for the teacher to adequately provide brain-based learning to all learners in large class sizes. Thus the whole content may not be covered.
In addition, achieving a complete ideal environment that enables effective brain-based learning may not be possible due to constraints that results from limited resources and the nature of the society. Some regions do not have adequate resources in their surroundings which can be used to provide learning experiences to the learners.
Advantages of Brain-based Learning
Having knowledge on how brain-based learning occurs at different stages of development helps teachers and all those involved in the provision, development and support of education to develop effective learning strategies, appropriate instructional materials as well as relevant and effective teacher training educational programs (Caine, Crowell & Nummela-Caine, 1999). It also enables teachers to effectively integrate learners’ personal and emotional experiences, learning styles and characters in the learning process.
Application of brain-based learning in classrooms enables teachers to provide for the different learning abilities that exist in classrooms since differentiated instructions ensure that the learning process accommodates all the learning abilities in the classroom. Learners come into class with different levels of entry behaviors, learning styles and learning abilities. Teachers have to assess these differences that learners come with into class and organize learning content, experiences, resources and processes which benefit all the learners in the classroom.
Application of brain-based learning enables teachers to use the levels of intellectual developments of learners to plan lessons and to develop instructional materials which take into considerations the learners learning experience (Caine, Crowell & Nummela-Caine, 1999). The lessons are planned and built according to what the learners already know with little advancements to enable learners build new concepts.
By adopting brain-based learning, teachers are also best placed to embrace methods of teaching that are able to address the needs of all the learners. The design of learning strategies is therefore informed by an understanding of the working of the brain, and its role in helping a learner to interact with teachers, learning material, and other students as well.
This ensures that the learning content is better retained. Besides, active participation of learners in the learning process ensures that all learners are involved in the learning process.
This learning method makes it possible for teachers to use various assessment methods which provide multiple types feedback which are specific and are also task oriented; and can be used to enhance the growth of the brain (Jensen 2000). Brain-based learning also provides opportunities for self-assessment. These assessments can be used to reinforce the applicability of all that the learners have learnt to activities outside the classroom.
Brain-based learning approach enables learners to acquire more knowledge and concepts which they would otherwise not have acquired in other traditional teaching and learning processes. They are also able to acquire knew knowledge through this learning approach due to their curiosity. The learners are also enabled to become more imaginative, creative and innovative since they learn by discovering knew knowledge through research.
The benefits of brain-based learning include among others, the acquisitions of knowledge on say, the necessary foods to ensure optimum function of the brain, not to mention the necessary physical exercises for purposes of relieving stress, thereby aiding learning. Thus teachers and other educators can use this knowledge in provision of nutritional and physical health programs to learners.
The study analyses the connection between the brain and learning process. It looks at other theories that support brain-based learning and how these theories explain the needs of a learner during classroom learning.
It focuses on what should be done to ensure that the curriculum, the learning instructions, the learning environment and the assessment processes are tailored to meet the needs of learners with different learning abilities. The study also focuses on the problems that face brain-based learning. It extensively analyses the advantages of brain-based learning as opposed to traditional learning methods.
Brain-based learning takes into consideration the needs of all learners. It helps to establish a learning environment that blends wells with learners characterized by different learning abilities. In addition, it also enables learners to internalize information since it gives them an opportunity to experiment and practice what they have learnt in class.
Learners take charge of their learning process and are therefore able to discover their potential and the nature of their talents. This learning approach is interesting and motivating to the learners since the curriculum and the instructional materials are built around learners’ interest.
The learning is also focused on relating the learning experiences which learners are exposed to, to real life problems. Thus it ensures that the learning content is meaningful and practical to learners. Besides, brain-based learning approach enables learners to learn through all the possible approaches of solving problems.
Caine, G., Crowell, S and Nummela-Caine, R. (1999). Mindshifts: A brain-based process for restructuring schools and renewing education. 2nd edition. Tucson, AZ: Zephyr Press.
Çepni, S. (2005). Araştırma ve proje calışmalarına Giriş, 2. Baskı. Üçyol Yayıncılık, Trabzon.
Gardner, H. (1991). The unschooled mind: How children think and how schools should teach. New York: Basic.
Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning. San Diego: Brain Store Incorporated.
Jensen, E. & Johnson, G. (1994). The learning brain. San Diego: Brain Store Incorporated.
Wertsch, J.V. (1997). Vygotsky and the formation of the mind. London: Cambridge University Press.