Monday, March 09, 2015

Educational neuroscience – some cause for critical evaluation

Educational neuroscience is a branch of psychology studying the application or relevance of recent neuroscience research to learning. The American Adult Education Research Association (AAER) has a website for their SIG on ‘brain, neurosciences andeducation. The British equivalent is bested at Cambridge University as the Centre for Neuroscience in Education. Various journals provide access to the work of educational neuroscientists including trends in neuroscience and education, mind brain and education and a more recent addition, neuroeducation. Conferences include this one for June 2015 and the annual AAER one. 

Of note are various publications, including this one from the Times, cautioning the direct match of neuroscience findings application to learning approaches or strategies. As per recent blog, the findings from various brain imagery systems tend to be patterns correlated from analyzing data, usually an ‘averaging’ out of various ‘spikes’ in the graphs measuring brain activity. 

The challenge is, as always, to try to consolidate the many (to teachers unfamiliar with the topic) disparate research themes and distill them to inform teaching practice. The recent book “visible learning and the science of how we learn” summarized on this blog, and websites like the one provided by the danafoundation and brain facts, go some way. However, there is so much coming along, it is hard to keep up.  The News site of the Dana foundation site, gathers newsfeeds from various general bulletins, pertinent to educational neuroscience with regular editorials, collating the latest findings including this one on neuro-myths and education. There is also a link to neuroethics – somewhat telling! 

Other articles of interest to follow up include:
Scientific and Pragmatic Challenges for Bridging Education and Neuroscience Sashank Varma, Bruce D. McCandliss, and Daniel L. Schwartz 

Can Cognitive Neuroscience Ground a Science of Learning?_702 17..23 (2011) Anthony E. Kelly

Neurosciencefor Educators: What Are They Seeking, and What Are They Finding? (2012) Cayce J. Hook & Martha J. Farah 

and a paper found on Ebsco host database -
Getting to the Heart of the Brain: Using Cognitive Neuroscience to Explore the Nature of Human Ability and Performance by  M. Layne Kalbfleisch

As always, a need to keep up with the play. There is much work pertinent to informing improvements in teaching and learning but always to approach with caution and a critical stance. 

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