Neuroscience and Learning
During the summer, I enjoy taking the time to read up on the latest research related to math education. I just finished another amazing and inspiring book called "Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education" by Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher (2016), and I would like to share with you some of the main points in this book and how it relates to learning math (or anything)! Side note: Neuroscience was one of my favorite classes that I took while obtaining my Occupational Therapy degree in California because I was fascinated by the complexity of our brains! Our brains are very flexible organs that help us to make sense of what we hear, see, and do. Researchers often use the word "plasticity" or "neuroplasticity" to describe how neurons are able to re-network when we are exposed to new experiences, or practice recalling information (and even when we have a stroke).
10 Takeaways from Neuroteach for Parents, Students, and Educators:
1) Effort matters most, because the brain can rewire itself. Students have more potential than they know!
2) The prefrontal cortex of our brain, which is the center that is in charge of planning, evaluating information, forming plans, and higher order thinking tasks, develops until our mid 20's.
3) The best way to study for a test is to practice self-testing and *recall*, not by re-reading information/notes/textbooks.
4) Our brains learn better with interleaving - connecting new material to older, already known knowledge.
5) Pre-testing helps to create more enduring learning.
6) Reflection and metacognition is an important part of the learning process.
7) Spread out studying time. Cramming is bad. We already knew this, but neuroscience research confirms it!
8) Our brains do not multi-task, it merely switches from focusing on one task to the next. When completing homework and distracted by phones or digital media, it takes our brains more effort to switch between tasks. The most efficient way to work or study is to limit or eliminate distractions.
9) Our brains require sleep for memory consolidation. Make sure your student is getting enough sleep!
10) Frequent, formative, low-stakes assessment are essential to learning.
Our focus in this school year 2018-19 will be on using new research on education and neuroscience to guide our practices. We will incorporate this knowledge into our tutoring by helping students to find strategies for self-testing, and assessing their own learning. We aim to structure each session with the maximum amount of learning opportunities, low-stakes assessments, and reflection. We hope to teach students about the basics of how their brain works and learns, in order to attain our ultimate goal of developing a strong growth mindset in students, so that they will believe in their own unlimited potential!