What is brain-based learning and how can it inform problem based learning and differentiation?
“Brain-based learning stresses the importance of patterning, that is, the fact that the brain does not easily learn things that are not logical or have no meaning”(Caine & Caine, 1995, p.44). If we understand how the brain works, we can better assist in student learning. Factors that have shown to influence learning are: engagement, repetition, input quantity, coherence, timing, error correction, and emotional states. (Jensen, 2005, p.34) Using rewards can; “induce pleasure, increase the frequency of goal-seeking behaviors, maintain learned behaviors, increase social behaviors, reinforce existing learning, and increase the success rate of new learning” (104). Weiss even supports the fact that attention, emotions, motivation, and context and patterns play key roles in learning. “…Educators …are relying on brain-based learning theory to take advantage of the growing body of evidence that neurologists are un-covering about how humans learn” (Weiss, 2000 p.28).
“Genes begin the process: behavioral geneticists commonly claim that DNA accounts for 30– 50 percent of our behaviors (Saudino, 2005), an estimate that leaves 50– 70 percent explained by environment” (Jensen, 2009, p.13). Jensen goes on to tell us that Genes can be turned off or become strengthened according to stress and nutrition. This is where that home environment plays a large part in student’s learning in the classroom. Even though they are in the classroom, it doesn’t mean they don’t have other major stresses in their lives that keep them from focusing. Living in poverty can cause a lot of stress which sets a student headed in the wrong direction from the start. School breakfast and lunch programs are a step in the right direction, but we also need to make sure that the students feel safe in the school environment. Sometimes it is the only place they do feel safe.
Then there is experience-based brain changes; video games enhancing attention skills, intensive language training enhance auditory skills, training for the deaf can enhance visual capacity, learning to play music can affect sensory, motor, and higher-order thinking, learning new skills helps with processing speed. Kids brains are changing daily with experiences and exposure. We need to focus and hone the skills they need to help them to be better equipped to deal with their worlds whether stressful or not. Knowing that there are so many different factors in all of our student’s lives, we need to be able to differentiate for all of them so that they are able to receive the instruction that best suits their needs.
Caine, R. N., & Caine, G. (1995, April). Reinventing Schools Through Brain-Based Learning.
Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with Poverty in Mind : What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and
What Schools Can Do About It. Retrieved from: http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=28&docID=10375878&tm=1428259489468
Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the Brain in Mind (2nd Edition). Retreived
Weiss, R. P. (2000, July). Brain-Based Learning: The Wave of the Brain. ASTD Magazines.
28-31. Retrieved from http://pequotlakes.k12.mn.us/userfiles/file/aep04_2_6-1.pdf