High-quality education research
Thanks to advancements in sociology, psychology, and neuroscience, our knowledge of how people learn continues to expand. Since the 1990s, with the advent of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), scientists have been looking inside the brain in ways they never have before. New images of the brain coupled with research findings from brain-related research is changing how we think about learning and, therefore, how we think about teaching.
Our brains are always changing
The study of neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change with learning, provides insights into how the brain compensates for damage following an injury by at least partly rewiring itself and assigning new tasks to undamaged regions. Similarly, brain scans now allow us to see that learning changes the brain by repeatedly organizing and reorganizing it, which literally changes its physical structure. We know, too, that different parts of the brain may be ready to learn at different times and that during learning, nerve cells in the brain become more powerful and efficient. These and similar findings suggest that the brain is a dynamic organ, shaped to a great extent by experience and by what a living being does (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2004).
This one idea alone has huge implications for education. By knowing the brain craves variety, for example, a teacher can provide information in unique ways or have students practice solving math problems in many different ways instead of practicing them many times using just one method (NPR, 2011).
No two brains are the same
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