Attention and the Brain
Learning, Schooling and the Brain. By Alden Blodget
Learning, Schooling and the Brain is a strong essay! It presents ideas that are important for teachers and administrators to consider as they work to improve learning outcomes for their students. The new field of Mind, Brain and Education offers significant possibilities for meaningful partnerships between researchers and educators – thepotential for real collaborations in which researchers and educators collaborate to ask better questions about designing effective teaching and learning. Alden Blodget has provided here an illustration of how teachers can translate and interpret research so that it can be used in the classroom and inform decisions about school structures and designs. I recommend it strongly for all educators.
Kurt W. Fischer, PhD, Director of Mind, Brain and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Charles Bigelow Professor
ADELE DIAMOND is a professor of developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of British Columbia.
The act teaches you the meaning of the act.
The Science of Attention
What Adele Diamond is learning about the brain challenges basic assumptions in modern education. Her work is scientifically illustrating the educational power of things like play, sports, music, memorization, and reflection. What nourishes the human spirit, the whole person, it turns out, also hones our minds.
Sam Wang, Ph.D., is an associate professor of neuroscience at Princeton University. Before becoming a professor, he studied at Caltech, Stanford, and Bell Labs. His research has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NPR, and the Fox News Channel, and he is the recipient of many honors, including an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and a W. M. Keck Distinguished Young Scholar Award.
Sam Wang, PhD - Child’s Brain: Benefits of Active Learning - Indoor and Outdoor
Learning and the Brain Conference - November, 2013 - Boston, Massachusetts
Dr, Wang, during the conference and in his research summary in Your Child's Brain, correlates the learning with children's active engagement. Neuro transmitters come on during "tagging events." These are events that release dopamine and noro-drenalin. Dr. Wang also states that these events are occuring at a high frequency during play because stress levels are low but actiivity is high.
Dr. Wang also points out the strong association of physical activity and learning. He states that there is moderate evidence supporting the reduction in stress with physical activity. Combined with the introduction of better blood flow and ednorphines, Dr. Wang also sees increased in the number of tagging events in the brain.
Terry Doyle is a professor of reading and the senior instructor for faculty development at Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan, where he has taught for the past 31 years. Since 2000, he has presented more than 50 workshops on teaching and learning at national and regional conferences. In addition, he has worked with faculty on 30 different colleges and universities across the country on issues related to learner-centered teaching. He is the author of Helping Students Learn in a Learner Center Environment: A Guide to Facilitating Learning in Higher Education, (Stylus, 2008), co-author of New Faculty Transition An Ideal Program, (New Forums Press, 2004) and co-author of The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with your Brain, (Stylus, 2014). He can be reached at Doylet@Ferris.edu.
Terry Doyle - A Learner-Centered Approach. Leaner centered teaching.
Learning and the Brain Conference - November, 2013 - Boston, Massachusetts
Doyle's driving message from the neuro-science research is this: Attention is what drives the brain. If you don’t have a student’s attention, then there is no learning. Emotion drives attention, and attention drives learning. He also stated that studies show that group attention is contagious. As with Dr. Wang, the brain's reward for attention is dopamine which stimulates neuro receptors.
Doyle continues by stating that teachers need to make sure the students are the ones working - doing the thinking, not recording the teacher's thinking. He suggests the following to keep students' attention.
relevance - put the content or concepts in context - students must get by the threshold
context in terms of patterns - similarities and differences
content needs to hit home, have meaning
surprises and novelties are good.Change things around. The brain likes change.
it takes longer to learn something than what we previously thought.
use multi-sensory tactics - brain works together. Emotions, scent, taste, touch, sight, and sound.
Related Articles on the Brain and Learning
Polly was asked to prepare a concise research paper which articulated the research behind 4D Learning. The paper also frames the purpose and reasoning behind the development of 4D Learning as part of the Galloway Strategic Plan.
This article is actually a review of a book that will be released by Annie Murphy Paul , “Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter.” It cites several studies which investigate the effectiveness of lecturing as a teaching tool, and if some groups do better than others. The studies used some interesting 4D type models to compare against.
"The act of putting one’s own thoughts into words and communicating them to others, research has shown, is a powerful contributor to learning. Active-learning courses regularly provide opportunities for students to talk and debate with one another in a collaborative, low-pressure environment."
“I’m astounded at the glacial pace of change in education,” she said. “Like many academic areas, there’s a huge disconnect between what’s known and what’s in practice. It’s very slow moving.”
Aamodt and fellow neuroscientist Sam Wang explain how the human brain develops from infancy to adolescence in their new book, Welcome to Your Child's Brain. The two researchers also offer tips for parents to help their children eat their spinach, learn their ABCs and navigate elementary school.
The information in this provocative article was also supported during Learning and The Brain conference. Teaching based on "learning styles," for example, has not been demonstrated as effective.
Brain research summarized in a briefing paper from the Dana Foundation indicates that attention activates not one but several neural networks, including an alerting network, an orienting network, and a third network, referred to as executive attention, enables us to choose manage what to pay attention to. The research also shows that learners' attention can be improved with various metacognitive techniques. This article describes those techniques.
"This is all anecdotal at this point," Baehr says. "But I'll say from our experience in the school, I see [kids learning to be grittier] all the time. ... You can create a classroom culture in which struggle and risk-taking is valued more than just getting the right answer."
An interesting article discussing learners' working memory and our cognitive load: our capacity to "hang on" to things when information is presented in mutiple formats at once.
This study done by two economists at the National Buruoe of Economic Research investigated the impact of introducing Internet access and home computers to low-income students. The results may surprise you. And, it reinforces the importance of effectively trained teachers in using technology in a 4D learning environment. (Op-Ed referencing this study.)
This article desribes the relationship between attention, learning, collaboration and emotion. The author offers practical advice on how to engage students with collabortion and brain change activity.