Implications of Social Neuroscience for Learning Technology Research and Development

  • Nancy W. Y. LawEmail author
  • Haley W. C. Tsang
Part of the Educational Communications and Technology: Issues and Innovations book series (ECTII)


Neuroscientific research has unequivocally pointed to the deeply social nature of human learning. Learning at the cognitive behavioral level is underpinned by neurophysiological changes in brain structure and connectivity across different parts of the brain as the learner interacts with others and the environment. Studies of epigenetic processes show that learning is dynamic, requiring learner engagement and contingent feedback. Agency, contingency and appropriate feedback are also keys to learning effectiveness at higher cognitive levels. The field of instructional design has traditionally focused on supporting the instructor, built on a model of learning as receiving instructions. Based on learning outcomes that are important for learners in the twenty-first century (communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and global competence), this model of learning support is outdated and irrelevant. This chapter begins with a review of key research directions in the deployment of technology-enhanced learning for infants and children based on neuroscience research, with a focus on social robots and serious games. It then reviews the challenges in the assessment and provision of learning support for collaborative problem-solving. The chapter ends by identifying some research directions for interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers in learning/instructional design and the science of learning that will help to advance theory and educational practice in collaborative problem-solving.


Social neuroscience Social robots Serious games Collaborative problem-solving In-game assessment 



The authors wish to acknowledge that this work is funded by the Research Grants Council of the HKSAR Government, #T44-707/16/N, under the Theme Based Research Scheme.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong

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