You are on page 1of 5

What is brain-based or brain-compatible learning?

How can brain research be integrated into the classroom?

How does brain research relate to technology integration?
Brain-based learning has been called a combination of brain science and common
sense. Hart (1983) called the brain "the organ of learning." He advocated learning
more about the brain in order to design effective learning environments. Caine
and Caine (1991) developed twelve principles that apply what we know about
the function of the brain to teaching and learning. These principles were derived
from an exploration of many disciplines and are viewed as a framework for
thinking about teaching methodology. Read Caine and Caine's (1994) Mind/Brain
Learning Principles for the principles with brief descriptions, the longer
descriptions, or to Caine's Website for a diagram. The principles are:
1. The brain is a complex adaptive system.
2. The brain is a social brain.
3. The search for meaning is innate.
4. The search for meaning occurs through patterning.
5. Emotions are critical to patterning.
6. Every brain simultaneously perceives and creates parts and wholes.
7. Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral attention.
8. Learning always involves conscious and unconscious processes.
9. We have at least two ways of organizing memory.
10. Learning is developmental.
11. Complex learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.
12. Every brain is uniquely organized.
For complex learning to occur, Caine and Caine have identified three conditions:
1. Relaxed alertness - a low threat, high challenge state of mind
2. Orchestrated immersion - an multiple, complex, authentic experience
3. Active processing - making meaning through experience processing
The nine brain-compatible elements identified in the ITI (Integrated Thematic Instruction) model
designed by Susan Kovalik include: Absence of Threat, Meaningful Content, Choices, Movement to
Enhance Learning, Enriched Environment, Adequate Time, Collaboration, Immediate Feedback, and
Mastery (application level).

There's lots of research on Right Brain/Left Brain. Check out a great links page to get you started.
Brain-based Learning Resources
Artful Minds - This project provides theoretical information and practical applications about arts
education, brain research, and technology use and integration.
Brain-Based Learning - This page provides an introduction to brain-based learning
Library - links to interesting articles
Brain Compatible Learning - This is an excellent article by Jane McGeehan on brain-compatible
learning including a brief history, implications, and applications. She focuses on they key brain
research findings 1) emotion is the gatekeeper to learning; 2) intelligence is a function of experience;
and 3) the brain stores most effectively what is meaningful from the learner s perspective.
The Brain Lab - This page within the New Horizons website links to articles related to brain-based
Brain Connection: The Brain and Learning - This website provides resources, links, and ideas for
incorporating brain-compatible learning projects into your classroom.

The Brain-Based Learning Theory

Neuroscience has disclosed important information about the brain and how it learns. It has
uncovered "unprecedented revolution of knowledge about the human brain, including how it
processes, interprets and stores information" (Sousa, 1998). The new brain-based learning theory
"require[s] that we now shift our focus to the learning process" (Sousa, 1998). This information
can be used to "facilitate learning" (Jackson, 1999). This paper will discuss how technology can be
used to support a brain-based finding that "emotions" are critical to learning.
How learners feel is very important to their learning process. If a learner is enthusiastic and
doesn't feel stress, learning will take place. If the conditions are negative and the learner doesn't
feel safe, learning will not take place. Neuroscientists discovered this information about the
learning process as they were researching the way the brain learns.
Is the learning process the same as it was in the past? According to David Sousa, "yesterday's
methods worked well for yesterday's students. But the student brain of today is quite different
from the one of 15 years ago" (Sousa, 1998). It is therefore necessary to study how students'
brains work today so that it is possible to enhance their learning. "Today's children spend much
more time with television and other electronic media than with their parents" (Sousa, 1998).
Technology can cater to these neuroscience brain-based findings in the computer lab as well as for
online learning courses. Various Microsoft tools such as PowerPoint presentations, Excel, Word
processor and other software with multimedia functions can be used by the teacher and students
instead of using conventional outdated class tools. Since today's brain needs a TV like
environment, both sound and animations can be used to suit today's learner. Lessons can be
prepared by utilizing the information that is readily available on the internet. Learning can be
meaningful. However to avoid frustrations and stress that can interfere with learning, lessons
must be planned very carefully "to helps structure and focus students' explorations of the Net"
(Deal, 1998). This will direct them to the goals at hand. Today's students experience different
"patterns" (DeJong, 1999) from those of the past. Brain-based learning findings reveal that "the
search for meaning is innate, occurs through "patterning"... and [that] emotions are critical to
[these] patterning" (DeJong, 1999). Meaning must be based on previous interests and "emotions
interact with reason to support or inhibit learning (Sousa, 1998). How students feel in the
classroom "determines the amount of attention they devote to ...[the lesson] (Sousa, 1998). It is
very important for learners to feel relaxed and safe in the learning environment. Feeling
threatened will shut down the learning process and as Daniel Goleman claims, "hijack" the rest of
the brain (Viader, 1996). Teachers can help students understand the impact negative and positive
emotions have on learning. "Positive emotions such as love, excitement, enthusiasm and joy
enhance the ability to process information and create permanent mental programs" (Sylwester,
1996). Learning cannot take place unless the learner feels "safe"(Sylwester, 1996). "Stress and
constant fear, at any age, can circumvent the brain's normal circuits" (Viadero, 1996). And yet,
emotions are critical to learning.
"Larry Cahill, James McGaugh, and their colleagueshave found that people were better at
recalling stories or slides that had aroused strong feelings in them than those that were devoid of
emotional context" (Viadero,1996). Emotions can improve memory. Another finding was that
emotions can either add or detract from learning. Since learning is based on individual patterning
and experiences (Caine, 1997, p. 19), in this case electronic media, it is only natural that these
environments be duplicated in school. Learning can no longer be limited to a single confined
environment, such as the classroom. Teachers need to "establish an environment that is free from
intimidation and rejection, high in acceptable challenge and where the learner experiences active
participation and relaxed alertness" (Dwyer,2002). This can be done by giving constant positive
and encouraging feedback to the students while they are working in the computer room.
Monitoring these rooms are much easier than in a conventional classroom. Each student has work
assigned to him. Individualized lessons are possible so that each learner can find meaning in his
particular assignment.
Computer based learning such as project work (Deutsch. 2003) or working on WebQuests in
teams of three or four is a great way to keep emotions alive. It is very challenging to work with
others on a mutual goal. Since social skills are developed at this age, it is only natural for students
to want to work in teams. This leads to many discussions and calls for decision making. Students
develop character and responsibility on the team. At the same time it is very important for the
teacher to interact with the students to make sure that team spirit is high. If there are social
problems some learners may feel threatened and uncomfortable. This will detract from their
learning. Regular reflections and team discussions will help keep the team busy with their work.
Daily journal reports are an excellent way to encourage both team and individual reflections on
how students feel. These should be handed in regularly. Technology and computer work is very
important. It's a challenge to do projects and learn collaboratively. However, feelings must be
taken into account. Teachers must monitor the room at all times. Careful attention should be
given to teams that are having difficulties. This gives the teacher a chance to sit with each team in
order to discuss the team's progress and encourage the members to speak about how they feel.
Feelings are part of the learning process. Students should learn about emotions and their
importance to the learning process.
Teaching students how to feel enthusiastic about their assignments and projects will enhance
their learning. Students can be empowered to find freedom in the Web instead of getting caught
in it (Deal, 1998). It is up to educators to find ways of integrating brain-based learning with

Perspektif Pembelajaran Berasaskan Otak
Hasil kajian dalam bidang neurologi sejak dua dekad yang lalu berjaya menemui pendekatan
pembelajaran yang lebih selari mengenai cara otak berfungsi secara semula jadi. Pendekatan ini
dikenali sebagai pembelajaran bersesuaian dengan otak (brain-compatible learning) atau
pembelajaran berasaskan otak (brain-based learning).
Berasaskan kajian dalam bidang neurosains, biologi, dan psikologi pula, kefahaman mengenai
hubungan antara pembelajaran dengan otak merangkumi aspek lain seperti peranan emosi, corak,
gaya, sikap, pemaknaan, persekitaran, irama tubuh, tekanan, trauma, penilaian, muzik, pergerakan,
gender, pengayaan dan sebagainya.
Menurut Eric Jensen dalam bukunya Brain-based Learning (2000), dengan menyepadukan amalan
pendidikan yang standard, pembelajaran berasaskan otak menjana sebuah organisasi pembelajaran
yang lengkap.

1. Apakah itu pembelajaran berasaskan otak?

Pembelajaran berasaskan otak adalah satu teori yang menyatakan bahawa proses pembelajaran
berkait rapat dengan struktur dan perkembangan otak. Jika otak tidak dihalang daripada proses-
proses semulajadi berlaku, maka akan berlakulah proses pembelajaran.

2. Apakah prinsip-prinsip utama dalam pembelajaran berasaskan otak?

Otak adalah pemproses selari iaitu boleh berfungsi menjalankan beberapa aktiviti dalam satu
Pembelajaran menghubungkaitkan keseluruhan fisiologi
Mencari makna secara dalaman
Mencari makna melalui pencorakan
Emosi adalah penting dalam pencorakan
Otak memproses secara keseluruhan dan bahagian secara serentak
Pembelajaran melibatkan persepsi periferal dan penumpuan yang sedang ditumpukan.
Pembelajaran melibatkan proses sedar dan luar sedar.
Terdapat dua jenis ingatan iaitu spatial dan rote
Pemahaman tertinggi berlaku apabila pengetahuan diletak (embedded) dalam spatial memory.
Pembelajaran akan berkembang melalui cabaran tanpa paksaan.
Otak adalah unik

3. Nyatakan tiga teknik pengajaran yang berhubungkait dengan pembelajaran berasaskan otak.

Orchestrated immersion: Mengujudkan suasana pembelajaran yang melibatkan pelajar dalam
pengalaman pembelajaran.
Relaxed alertness:Mengelakkan ketakutan dalam proses pembelajaran
Active processing: Membolehkan pelajar mengukuhkan dan memahami maklumat secara mendalam
melalui proses yang aktif

4. Cara otak berfungsi memberikan impak yang signifikan terhadap aktiviti pembelajaran yang
berkesan. Guru perlu membantu pelajar mengembangkan pengalaman pembelajaran mereka.
Nyatakan elemen- elemen interaktif yang penting dalam proses ini.

Guru perlu menyediakan pengalaman yang komplek dan interaktif yang sebenar dan pelbagai.
Pelajar perlu ada cabaran yang bermakna dalam dirinya
Bagi mempastikan pelajar memahami sesuatu masalah secara mendalam, mereka harus membuat
analisis secara intensif dari pelbagai pendekatan
Maklumbalas adalah terbaik apabila ia hadir secara realiti berbanding daripada pihak berautoriti
Pembelajaran lebih berkesan apabila masalah diselesaikan secara realistik
Gambaran keseluruhan tidak boleh dipisahkan daripada bahagian-bahagiannya.
Oleh kerana otak berbeza, guru perlu membenarkan pelajar belajar merancang pembelajaran
mengikut persekitaran sendiri
Penyelesaian masalah terbaik adalah ketawa.