Ertmer and Newby (1993) suggest that “the way we define learning and what we believe about the way learning occurs has important implications for situations in which we want to facilitate changes in what people know and do” (p. 50). On this premise, incredible research has been conducted into understanding how learning takes place and numerous theories have been returned as more persons add their voice to their discussion.
A significant portion of the research and discussion has been dedicated to how the functioning of the brain affects learning. According to Ormond, Schunk & Gredler (2009), “the human brain is an incredibly complex mechanism, and researchers have a long way to go in understanding how it works...Yet they have made considerable progress in the past two decades” (p. 28). In my reading, I have discovered two online sources (amongst a plethora of similar sources) that provide quite comprehensive insights into some of the research that has been carried out thus far.
The Brain & Learning – Educational Neuroscience (http://www.brainandlearning.eu/index.php)
Created by the Centre for Brain & Learning at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, this website offers insight on the issue at hand. With the benefit of originating from a non-western educational institution, not only does the site provide a review of some of the recent developments in the research on the brain and learning (Centre for Brain & Learning), but it also gives readers a peak into some of the advances taking place in another area of the world (the Netherlands) into the topic (Home). I find the FAQ page to be very useful in providing a background to the relationship between how the brain works and learning, in providing simplified responses to common questions (Egs - Why should we build bridges between cognitive neuroscience and educational practice? Are there differences in brain development between boys and girls?), as well as in providing links to other sources of information on similar topics. In short, I find this site, though simple in layout and content, to be very useful in its presentation of the subject matter.Brain-based Learning – Funderstanding (http://www.funderstanding.com/)
The theory of brain-based learning (BBL) is a recent development in the area of the brain and learning, which seeks to gain insight into the operation and function of the entire brain in learning (WikEd, 2010). First proposed by Renate and Geoffrey Caine in the 1990’s (WikiEd, 2010), this theory has made its mark in the research repertoire. This website has been created by the organisation ‘Funderstanding’, which focuses on Instructional Design and Knowledge Management and therefore has a vested interest in offering insight into considerations for the learning process.
The site’s page on BBL provides a definition of the theory and outlines its major principles, as well as instructional techniques (orchestrated immersion, relaxed alertness, active processing) the impact on the approach to learning and the learning environment. I find this to be quite a useful source for grasping an initial understanding of the theory and its implications. The site also offers reference to the two major contributors to this theory.
Again, the research, the notions, the suggestions are numerous. These sites are a ‘drop in the bucket’ of what is available. They however, provide simple and comprehensive overviews of influential aspects of the research on the brain and learning.
Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical
features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50.
Jolles, J. (2007). Brain and Learning: An Initiative of Brain & Learning Centre, Institute, Brain
and Behaviour University, Maastricht. Educational Neuroscience. Retrieved from http://www.brainandlearning.eu/index.php
On Purpose Associates (2008). Brain Based Learning. Funderstanding. Retrived from
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom
edition). New York: Pearson.
WikEd (2010). Brain Based Learning. Retrieved from http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Brain_Based_Learning