Neuroscience for Educators: What Are They Seeking, and What Are They Finding?
- 1.4k Downloads
What can neuroscience offer to educators? Much of the debate has focused on whether basic research on the brain can translate into direct applications within the classroom. Accompanying ethical concern has centered on whether neuroeducation has made empty promises to educators. Relatively little investigation has been made into educators’ expectations regarding neuroscience research and how they might find it professionally useful. In order to address this question, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 13 educators who were repeat attendees of the Learning & the Brain conferences. Responses suggest that ‘brain based’ pedagogical strategies are not all that is sought; indeed, respondents were more often drawn to the conference out of curiosity about the brain than a desire to gain new teaching methods. Of those who reported that research had influenced their classroom practice, most did not distinguish between neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Responses indicated that learning about neuroscience can help educators maintain patience, optimism and professionalism with their students, increase their credibility with colleagues and parents, and renew their sense of professional purpose. While not necessarily representative of the entire population, these themes indicate that current research in neuroscience can have real relevance to educators’ work. Future ethical discussions of neuroeducation should take into account this broader range of motivations and benefits.
KeywordsEducational neuroscience Neuroeducation Classroom instruction Mind, brain and education
The research reported here was conducted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts with honors in Cognitive Science. We thank Daniel LaGattuta and Kelly Williams for assistance with subject recruitment and Charlotte Pope for assistance with transcription.
- 1.Ansari, D., B. Smedt, and R.H. Grabner. 2011. Neuroeducation—a critical overview of an emerging field. Neuroethics. doi: 10.1007/s12152-011-9119-3.
- 4.Hardiman, M., L. Rinne, E. Gregory, and J. Yarmolinskaya. 2011. Neuroethics, neuroeducation, and classroom teaching: Where the brain sciences meet pedagogy. Neuroethics. doi: 10.1007/s12152-011-9116-6.
- 5.Howard-Jones, P.A., and K.D. Fenton. 2011. The need for interdisciplinary dialogue in developing ethical approaches to neuroeducational research. Neuroethics. doi: 10.1007/s12152-011-9101-0.
- 6.Society for Neuroscience. (2009). Neuroscience research in education summit: The promise of interdisciplinary partnerships between brain sciences and education (http://www.sfn.org/siteobjects/published/0000BDF20016F63800FD712C30FA42DD/D0E7F2B692E1853CC31DDB5D80E4AE69/file/EducationSummitReport.pdf).
- 9.OECD. 2002. Understanding the brain: Towards a new learning science. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
- 10.Armstrong, S. 2008. Teaching smarter with the brain in focus: Practical ways to apply the latest brain research to deepen comprehension, improve memory, and motivate students to achieve. New York: Scholastic Teaching Resources.Google Scholar
- 11.Jensen, E.P. 2000. Brain-based learning: The new science of teaching and training, revised edition. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
- 12.Medina, J. 2008. Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle: Pear Press.Google Scholar
- 15.Dehaene, S. (2009). Reading in the brain: The science and evolution of a human invention (1st ed.). Viking Adult.Google Scholar
- 25.Howard-Jones, P.A., Franey, L., Mashmoushi, R., and Liao, Y.C. (2009, September). The neuroscience literacy of trainee teachers. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Manchester, UKGoogle Scholar