Evaluating and Identifying Online Resources
Wiley Online Library
The topic on the brain and learning strategies is endless. There is so much data on the web that I really needed to filter for myself. I decided to explore the area of the experiential learning theory (ELT).
In regards to our topic some researchers such as James Zull see a link between ELT and neuroscience research. They believe that the experimental learning must be connected to different functions of the brain. Knowing this certainly contributes to problem-solving methods during the learning process.
The following figure illustrates Kolb’s Model:
Experiences come through the sensory cortex, reflective observation involves the integrative cortex at the back, creating new abstract concepts occurs in the frontal integrative cortex, and active testing involves the motor brain. In other words, the learning cycle arises from the structure of the brain (Zull 2002: 68–72).
We can use the knowledge of the brain to structure and design learning materials better. Memory enables learners to use their previous experiences and relate them into context of the information. This leads to changes in the neural network and forming of synapses which will help the student in the encoding process of a concrete problem. The understanding of the learning cycle requires the knowledge of how the brain functions. Student’s emotions and attitudes are different and need different learning styles.
Learning is about creating lasting neural patterns that can be effectively accessed. But this could apply to rote learning, skill development, or stimulus-reward behavioral training. As described earlier, our intentions for our adult learners go beyond mastering behavioral skills or informational content. (Taylor, K., & Lamoreaux, A, p49-60)
Caine explains in his model the several principals of learning. All learning is physiological – all perceptions vary. People look at things and intepret them differently and therefore develop different skills at different levels. It is a natural capacity with which all of us are endowed and by means of which all of us interact with our world. The brain/mind is social – These are neurons in the brains of observers that respond in the same way as neurons in the brains of actors. That is why all of us are potentially hard wired for empathy. It is one reason why learning through imitation and modeling are so effective. The search for meaning is innate – The practical implication is that training and development is much more productive, even if conducted in primitive ways, when it resonates with something that people care about. Humans have the need to find a purpose or a reason in their doings. The search for meaning occurs through patterning. Humans tend to search for pattern that have meaning and make sense. In practice this can mean for example a when a learner becomes familiar with his surroundings for example in an e-learning environment. Emotions are critical to patterning because cognition and emotion interact. Caine goes on explaining that all decisions involve emotions of some nature. So learning experience can be achieved through emotional experiences. That is a challenge for instructional design because the tendency is to design courses with content in mind while ignoring processes that would make the material feel familiar and attractive to learners. The brain/mind processes parts and wholes simultaneously. There are at least two types of memory. If we understand the processing of the information we can enhance the presentation of learning materials. Each brain is uniquely organized and each learner is different. They may of course have most things similar, we are humans after all. These variations in learning skills leave indeed a challenge for the instructional designer. A video may be over stimulating for 3 rd Graders, where as with adults it enhances the audio input. (Caine/Caine 2001).
Caine, G., & Caine, L. L. M. (2010). Making connections between e-learning and natural learning. E-learning, 1-10.
Kolb, A. Y., Kolb, D. A., & Lewin, K. (2005). Learning Styles and Learning Spaces : Enhancing Experiential Learning in Higher Education. Management Learning, 4(2), 193-212.
Taylor, K., & Lamoreaux, A. (n.d.). Teaching with the Brain in Mind. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (119), 49-60. doi:10.1002/ace
Zull, J. E. (2004). The Art of Changing the Brain. Neurological Research, 62(1), 68-72.