Learner Centered Teaching Putting the Research into Practice

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Developed by Professor Terry Doyle Ferris State University www.learnercenteredteaching.wordpress.com doylet@ferris.edu

Slides available for download at:


Learner Centered Teaching Fort Sill, OK

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the day participants will: 1.Have a general understanding of current brain research that deals with human learning. 2. Have the ability to develop teaching activities that integrate the research on how the human brain learns. .

Learning Outcomes
3. Be able to inform their students about which learning preparation activities will prepare them to learn at their best. 4. Be able to guide their students in how to maximize their own learning by sharing the current research on human learning with them.

Here is the Problem?
Teachers can’t make informed decisions about which teaching approaches to use if they don’t first understand how their students learn.

To understand how our students learn we must understand how their brains take in, process, and retrieve information as well as the numerous factors that affect these processes.

Mind, Brain and Education
• • • • Pedagogy Special Ed Gifted Ed



Cognitive Neuroscience Development Psychology Neuroethics Neuropsychology Neuropsychology Developmental Neuroscience

• • • Biopsychology Neurobiology Genetics

Neurochemistry Psychopharmacology Toxicology

Social Science
Sociology Anthropology Philosophy

What was Then
Guido Sarducci Five Minute University

A Caution!
Brain systems relation to complex cognition and behavior can only be explained satisfactorily by a comprehensive blend of theories and facts related to all the levels of organization of the nervous system, from molecules and cells to physical and social environments.
(Antonio Damasio, head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa Medical Center)

Beware of

The Human Brain
The human brain works as a complex design of integrated systems not through specialized and competing right and left brain functions.

The Human Brain
• The human brain weighs three (3) pounds • Contains 86 billion neurons • These neurons can make 40 quadrillion connections

2012 Neuroscience and Learning
“We have accumulated enough knowledge about the mechanisms and molecular underpinnings of cognition at the synaptic and circuit levels to say something about which processes contribute” (James Bibb of the
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)

We are Born to Learn
The brain was meant to explore and learn

The Definition of Learning
Learning is a change in the neuronpatterns of the brain.
(Ratey, 2002)

www.virtualgalen.com/.../ neurons-small.jpg

Teachers’ Definition of Learning?
Learning is the ability to use information after significant periods of disuse and it is the ability to use the information to solve problems that arise in a context different (if only slightly) from the context in which the information was originally taught.
(Robert Bjork, Memories and Metamemories, 1994)

Basic Finding from Mind, Brain and Education Research

It is the one who does the work who does the learning
( Doyle , 2008).

Dendrite Growth
The picture show the dendritic growth that has taken place 20 minutes into new learning . See the new cellular material!
(Cognitive Neuroscientist Janet Zadina, 2010)

Use it or Lose it
When new material is not practiced the new dendrite tissue is reabsorbed by the brain to conserve resources.
(Dr. Janet Zardina, 2010)

Six Major Findings about the Human Brain
1.Human brains are as unique as faces.
A. There are clear patterns of development that are share by all. B. These patterns of development or stages set parameters for learning.

Six Major Findings about the Human Brain
2. All brains are not equal because context and ability influence learning. A. Learning environments B. Motivation
C. Prior knowledge

The goal is to maximize potential.

Six Major Findings about the Human Brain
3.The brain is changed by experience.
A. This happens at a microscopic level.

Six Major Findings about the Human Brain
4. The brain is highly plastic.
A. There are limits on plasticity that become greater as we age.

B. Developmental stages are benchmarks not roadblocks.

Six Major Findings about the Human Brain
5. Brains learns better and faster when they are able to connect new information to old.
A. Prior knowledge

Six Major Findings about the Human Brain
The Brain is Social
Survival is accomplished by working with other brains. Groups of brains almost always outperform a single brain.

What the Brain Needs to Function at Its Best
The brain needs to function effectively: 1.Oxygen 2. Hydration 3.Food (glucose) 4. Sleep 5. Exercise

The Brain and Oxygen
 The brain accounts for only 2% of total body weight.  It uses 25% of the body’s oxygen supply – depleting 1 ½ pints of blood per minute.  It uses up to 30% of the total energy produced by the body.

Water and the Brain
Water is brain food!
In a study by Kempton and colleagues they found—

Given the limited availability of brain metabolic resources, prolonged states of reduced water intake may adversely impact executive functions such as planning and visuo-spatial processing.
(Kempton KJ, et al. 2010)

Water and the Brain
Brain cells need two times more energy than other cells in the body. Water provides this energy more effectively than any other substance.
(Allen, Advanced Learning and Development

Water and the Brain
Water is also needed for the brain's production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Nerve transmission requires one-half of all the brain’s energy.

(Allen, Advanced Learning and Development Institute)

Food and the Brain
Inhaling carbohydrates causes blood glucose levels to yo-yo. As a result the brain, which relies on glucose for energy, is left either glutted or gasping, neither of which makes for optimal cognitive functioning.
(Edward M. “Ned” Hallowell, MD)

Food and Learning
Learning is helped when we rely on the complex carbohydrates found in fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. In general, a balanced diet.
(Edward M. “Ned” Hallowell, MD)

Our Students’ Mindsets

Growth Mindset
Students believe their brain is malleable and their intelligence and abilities can be enhanced through hard work and practice. They believe only time will tell how smart they become.

In a fixed mindset students believe that intelligence is a fixed trait -- that some people have it and others don't -- and that their intelligence is reflected in their performance (Dweck, 2006).

Growth Mindset

Student’s value hard work, learning, and challenges while seeing failure as something to learn from.

Fixed Mindset
Fixed mindsets believe they either– Shouldn’t need to work hard to do well

Putting in the effort won’t make any difference in the outcome.

Growth Mindset
Students are willing to take learning risks and understand that through practice and effort their abilities can improve.

Mindset is Contextual

Students’ Mindsets are often different for different subjects or tasks.

Fixed Intelligence is unchangeable. VS. Growth Intelligence is malleable and can be improved.

Fixed Look smart. vs. Growth Desire to learn is paramount.

Fixed Avoid challenges. VS. Growth Failure is seen as an opportunity to learn. Risks are necessary for growth.

Fixed Make excuses and try to avoid difficulties. VS. Growth Effort is necessary for growth and success.

Fixed Criticism is taken personally. VS. Growth Criticism is directed at their current skills level.

Students know they can improve.

Feedback and Mindset
Teachers should focus on students' efforts and strategies.

Praise students’ efforts or their strategies, not their intelligence.

Mindset and Intelligence
There is no relation between students' abilities or intelligence and the development of a growth mindset.

What Teaching Actions does Brain Research Affirm as Promoting Learning
When the information or skill is made to have personal relevance.

What Teaching Actions does Brain Research Affirm as Promoting Learning
The content is made to respond to the survival needs of the learner.

What Teaching Actions does Brain Research Affirm as Promoting Learning
The teaching that engages the brain in multimodal, experiential and diverse learning. The human brain enjoys this kind of active engagement.

What Teaching Actions does Brain Research Affirm as Promoting Learning
Time on task. Learning something new takes much longer than most students think. It requires a great deal of practice.

What Teaching Actions Promote Learning
When teacher embed facts in a meaningful context they make the learning process much easier and enhance the likelihood of recall in the future.

What Teaching Actions does Brain Research Affirm as Promoting Learning
• The brain doesn’t learn in a linear structured and predictable fashion.

• The use of various sensory channels at the same time are best especially for hard to learn concepts

What Teaching Actions does Brain Research Affirm Promote Learning
The human brain seeks and quickly detects novelty. Teacher who know this can design novel activities that will enhance classroom learning and long term recall.