A delightful, short, breezy introduction to how to leverage the brain to learn.
Interesting research looking at brains of graduate school students vs. high school dropouts (through autopsies) have revealed that the first ones have about 40% more connections than the latter. That the state of learning in the general population is not particularly encouraging, on the other hand, is confirmed by the fact that only 50% of the adult population has acquired formal reasoning skills...
If we are in the business of maximizing brain growth, two ingredients are essential according to recent neurobiological research: challenge and feedback. Challenges can be problem solving, critical thinking exercises, carrying out relevant projects, engaging in complex activities. Feedback has to be specific, multi-modal, delivered in a timely fashion, and controlled by the learner to the extent that it is possible. All of this will make for much more engaged and responsive students.
Both kinds of memory are important for learning. Semantic memory is more closely associated with classic “book learning”, it is difficult, and it comes less naturally, probably because it is still evolutionarily novel. Episodic memory is stimulated by novelty, it is very dynamic, and it comes more naturally. The right panels list the kinds of activities known to stimulate semantic and episodic memory.
Concept maps can be used to learn, to think, and to teach. They can be done with simple post-it notes, using generic graphic software such as Power Point, or using special software such as “Inspiration”.
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